A healthy digestive system is essential for maintaining a quality life. Even though the food we consume is the driving force for digestion, there are several other factors that can stimulate it.
By eating a balanced diet, our body promotes better nutrient absorption, gut health, and waste elimination. We could also utilize activities like yoga to enhance digestion and find relief from digestive issues. In this article, I set out to explain how yoga can help digestion, along with some effective poses.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a traditional practice that coordinates both mind and body through meditation (dhyana), breathing exercises (pranayama), and gentle movements (asanas) to promote better physical and mental well-being.
Apart from these, yoga also includes spiritual elements and has been passed down from generation to generation. Its origins can be traced back thousands of years to the Upanishads, which are ancient yogic texts dating from 800 BC to 400 AD. Owing to its health benefits, it has now become a global phenomenon.
How Does Yoga Help With Digestion?
Regular yoga practice does much more than strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility, and keep your body fit, it is proven to improve your digestion. Here is how yoga helps digestion:
? Stimulates The Digestive Organs: There are certain yoga poses or asanas that apply pressure, compress, or stretch the digestive organs. These actions improve circulation, which further increases the blood flow to the organs, thus enhancing their natural function.
Twisting poses in particular facilitate easy transport of food in the digestive tract and relieve constipation. Additionally, breathing exercises help massage and mobilize the digestive organs. Yoga can also increase your appetite and balance your metabolism.
? Improves Gut Health: Inverted yoga poses are great tools for improving gut health. They reduce the weight of the bowel from other organs and allow easy passage of food materials along the digestive tract. Headstands or shoulder stands are the best-inverted asanas for digestion.
? Soothes The Nervous System: The portion of the nervous system that controls the digestive system is called the parasympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for what we call ‘rest and digest’ responses.
The ‘rest and digest’ mechanism promotes digestion by reducing heart rate and blood pressure. But under pressure or stress, the body switches from ‘rest and digest’ responses to ‘flight or fight’ responses that inhibit all digestive processes to prepare you to fight the emergency.
Hence, to keep your digestive system healthy, it is essential to ensure stress management. The relaxation practices offered by yoga, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and relaxing asanas, can relax your parasympathetic nervous system and promote digestion.
? Promotes Healthier Habits: Yama Niyama in yoga addresses various dos and don’ts and encourages us to make healthy life choices. It involves a holistic treatment of the body and preventing illnesses. Yoga offers us certain dietary practices to prevent digestive issues.
Yoga Poses For Better Digestion
- Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana): Ardha Matsyendrasana is a sitting pose that involves compression of the digestive tract and organs. This asana is simple which makes it suitable for beginners and people with mobility issues.
- Plough Pose (Halasana): This is an inverted asana that activates the ‘rest and digest’ responses and helps release the pressure on the colon. It provides compression to visceral organs and promotes blood circulation.
- Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana): This seated pose stimulates the digestive tract by giving us a squeeze and release effect on the tract. Paschimottanasana helps to improve digestion and combat constipation.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): This asana stimulates the digestive tract by putting pressure on the abdominal organs. It also gives relief from constipation by stimulating contractions of the intestines.
- Cat-Cow Pose (Marjariasana): As the name suggests it transitions between 2 classic yoga poses and together they stretch your back and belly muscles. This pose massages your digestive organs as you alternately compress and lengthen the intestines, improving gut function and relieving stress.
Yoga is a holistic approach to maintaining all the primary organs of our body as well as our overall well-being. As we live in a world of unhealthy lifestyles and stress, practicing yoga can be beneficial in preventing physical and mental issues.
We have seen how yoga can improve our digestive functioning and gut health through specific postures and movements. With continued practice, yoga can improve digestion and relieve various digestive issues.