I have been doing yoga on and off since college. My first exposure to it was when I needed to register for a required gym class. Although I did not know anything about yoga, I chose it because it fit best into my schedule and seemed to require the least amount of cardio and sweat since I had to go to another class afterwards. I am very grateful that I tried it. One, I like to try new things and expand my horizons and two, it has been an exercise that I have come back to at various points in my life to stay in shape, stretch my tight muscles, and calm my mind.
Exercise in general is good if you have a digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and acid reflux. Studies have demonstrated that patients with IBS who moderately worked out for 30 minutes a day for five days a week had a decrease in abdominal pain and constipation. Yoga can be especially helpful and has been shown to improve the physical and emotional aspects that can be affected by IBS. Yoga can decrease stress and ease the nervous system, improve deep breathing, massage digestive organs and promote muscular movement that can improve issues, such as constipation and excess belly weight. A regular yoga practice can also improve mindfulness of your body and symptoms. Yoga is also gentler on our digestive systems and bodies than some other exercises. Exercises like running can irritate the digestive system and increase symptoms because pressure is being placed on the gastrointestinal tract by our abdominal muscles.
Below are some yoga poses that can help relieve your digestive symptoms. Rodney Yee, a well-known and respected yoga instructor recommends maintaining a soft and elongated belly while doing yoga. Photos are from articles found in Yoga International, Yoga Journal, Yoga Journal, Gaia, and The Art of Living.
- Forward bends
- Knee to chest
- Viparita karani (Legs-up-the-wall pose)
- Parighasana (Gate pose)
- Ardha matsyendrasana (Half-seated spinal twist)
- Jathara parivritti (Reclining abdominal twist)
- Salamba setu bandhasana (Supported bridge pose)
- Ananda balasana (Happy baby pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat pose)
- Pavanamuktasana (Wind-relieving pose)
- Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
- Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
Overall, if you have digestive issues, try and find time in your day to exercise. It can reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Additional body and mind exercises that are good if you have digestive disorders are biking, walking, Pilates, barre, Tai chi, deep breathing exercises and meditation.
Photo taken by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash