Let’s be real – Whether from too many kale chips and kombucha, or hot dogs and beer, everyone gets gas. Yoga can have fantastic effects on a person’s digestive system. After all, practicing yoga often involves bending, folding, arching, stretching and twisting the torso. All of those actions manipulate the internal organs, including the stomach and intestines. That can help “move things along,” so to speak. That’s one of the many reasons hearing someone break wind in class is not an uncommon occurrence. See below for a few poses that specifically facilitate healthy digestion, whether at home or in the studio:
If you ever feel like your stomach is about to burst with pressure, Puppy Pose can be a great one to create an optimal release. This blend of Downward Facing Dog and Child’s Pose primes the hips as the highest point in the body, which gives any trapped gas bubbles the perfect path to freedom. To experience, come onto your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward as far as they’ll go, keeping your hips high over your knees. You can rest your forehead or chin to the earth, and stay for 8-10 breaths.
Twists in yoga are known to be great for aiding digestion. The squeeze/compression followed by the release mimics and amplifies the natural, involuntary wave-like contractions of the intestinal tract called peristalsis. A seated twist is a great way to aid that process. Sit comfortably with your legs extended forward. Cross your right foot over your left thigh, keeping your knee pointed to the sky. If available, you can hook your left heel under and around towards your right hip. Tent your right fingertips behind your right hip. Inhale and extend your left hand to the sky to lengthen your waist. Exhale, twist towards the right, either hugging your knee into your chest with your left arm or hooking your left elbow outside of your right knee. Each inhale, focus on lengthening your spine. Each exhale, explore deepening the twist. After a few rounds of breath, inhale to release, and switch sides.
Wind Relieving Pose
One final option to help move food along is a wind-relieving pose. Start by laying on your back. Draw your right knee in towards your chest, interlacing your hands around your shin or behind your thigh. Draw in a deep breath in. Exhale, and peel your right knee wide of the ribs towards your right armpit. Stay for a few rounds of breath, applying gentle compression to the right side of your belly. This puts pressure on your ascending colon, which aids in digestion. Exhale to release your right leg back to the floor. Repeat on the left side. By compressing the left side of your body, you put pressure on the descending colon, which aids in elimination.