According to Ayurveda, which is one of the world’s oldest science, dating back to 3000 BC, a healthy digestive system is crucial to our well-being. Symptoms such as constipation, indigestion, cramping, or bloating are not only uncomfortable but also in the long-term, we can develop very serious health problems. Most of the diseases are caused by inefficient digestion.
Yoga is much more than just a physical workout; it unifies the body, the mind, and the soul. A big part of yoga practice is breathing. Breathing brings life force into the body and cleanses the body of toxic materials formed due to unhealthy lifestyle and accumulated stress. If you occasionally suffer from constipation or feel bloated and puffy, try this yoga poses to improve digestion. Ideally, you should practice the asanas 1-2 hours after eating or even better with an empty stomach. And don’t forget -regularity is the key!
1. Knees To Chest Pose (Apanasana)
To begin your routine, start from a reclining position. Apasana can help relieve menstrual or digestive cramps, it aids the optimal functioning of the digestive, urinary, and sexual organs, and it also lengthens the spine. Keeping your knees and feet hip-width apart, draw your legs as far as you can but make sure that the shoulders are grounded. Breath deep and slow, and stay in the posture for at least a minute or two.
2. Knee Down Twist with Crossed Legs (Jathara Parivartanasana)
This yoga pose improves digestion and elimination by relaxing the abdomen. It also improves breathing by opening the ribcage and expanding lung capacity and great for lower back pain. Reach the arms wide and cross the top leg over the lower leg. Place the legs on the floor and look in the opposite direction. There are many variations to this pose; you can also put your legs together without crossing them and do the same twist. Breath into your belly and stay in the pose for a few minutes.
3. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
This asana is great for stretching and lengthening the back as well, but by placing a bolster or pillow on your thighs, you can get even more benefits from it. Allow your belly to rest upon the support (pillow or bolster); this way, when you fold forward and breathe, you will get a gentle digestive massage. Stay there for five to ten deep breaths.
4. Yogic Squat (Malasana)
This squat is really essential for all of us, sitting more than 7-8 hours a day on average. Malasana stimulates the metabolism and the digestive organs (helps the body eliminate waste), thus relieving constipation and menstrual cramps. It also strengthens the calves, feet, and legs and relieves lower back pain. Use blocks or bolsters under the buttocks if this is too intense or hard on the knees.
5. Twisting Triangle (Open Trikonasana)
The Triangle pose improves the blood circulation through the entire body, and it tones the belly besides giving a good stretch and twist to your back. The twisting motion tones and energizes abdominal organs, especially the intestinal tract and liver. Make sure to have both heels on the floor and maintain a straight back. Use a block under your front hand if you cannot comfortably reach the floor.
6. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This standing forward bend is a great pose to calm the nervous system, stretch the spine, and relax the neck. It also pacifies adrenals in the kidneys, compresses the abdominal area to aid in digestion. Stand with your legs apart, and bend forward from the waist. Keeping your back straight, hold for 5 to 7 breaths. Bend your knees if it’s more comfortable.
The boat pose requires you to really engage your core and lower back muscles to maintain support, and thus the pressure is being placed on the abdomen to aid digestion. This asana also challenges balance, stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestine. If you find this too challenging, you can bend your legs so that your shins are parallel to the floor.
8. Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
All twists have fantastic effects on digestion; this asana is no exception. Twisting reduces blood flow to the digestive organs, so you’re basically letting in “new” blood to the digestive organs when you come out of the pose. This asana can cleanse the digestive system by massaging your abdominals. Begin by sitting firmly on your buttocks. Place your left leg straight on the floor, right knee bent with the right foot outside of the left thigh, hug your leg, and pull it close to your chest. Make sure to maintain a straight spine and breath into your belly during the pose.
9. Full Butterfly (Purna Titali Asana)
This pose is one of the most relaxing hip opening poses. It stimulates and strengthens abdominal organs like kidneys, liver, uterus and ovaries, prostate, bladder, etc. It can be practiced during pregnancy, and it is extremely helpful for women in menstruation, relieving symptoms of menopause as well. After getting into this position (see on the picture), as you exhale, bend forward to hold your feet with your hands and pull them towards yourself.
10. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Shavasana is a very important asana to finish your routine with. Lay down on the mat, straighten your legs, your toes pointing outward. Put your arms along your side with your palms up. Close your eyes and relax. Try to calm your mind as much as you can and focus on your breathing. Let healing take place in your body.