A regular yoga practice improves circulation, sleep, and digestion. We often talk about the gut-brain connection and yoga helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system putting your body in the rest and digest state. The Ashtanga yoga primary series is “yoga chikitsa” in Sanskrit, which translates to “yoga therapy.” For years, people have used yoga to heal ailments from the inside out. Here are the best eight poses to help with digestion and bloating:
1. Sun Salutation A
Sun salutations heat up the body, and keep the spine mobile. The gentle movement of the spine gently massages the organs to promote digestion.
Start at the top of your mat, reach your arms high over head (inhale), fold forward (exhale), half way lift (inhale), chaturanga (exhale), upward facing dog (inhale), downward facing dog (exhale). Repeat 3-5 times.
2. Revolved Extended Side Angle or Revolved Crescent Lunge
A deeper twist to compress the ascending and descending colon promoting detoxification.
Step right foot forward to crescent lunge or warrior 1. Palms press together at heart. Bury left elbow outside of right thigh. Work on twisting your left ribs under, grounding in the back leg. Repeat on the left.
Hint: we always twist right then left because your ascending colon is on the right and descending is on the left!
3. Seated forward fold
Forward folds are front body contractions and back body openers.
Sit with legs together at the front of the pelvis, sit bones grounded. Hinge at the hips and reach for feet, ankles or shins. Curl forehead to shins then drag chin forward to lengthen.
4. Marichyasana A
The binds in the marichyasana series create a deep compression in the digestive track. It also is said to cure menstrual pain and help with sciatica.
From seated, bend the right knee and place the foot on the ground right in front of the right sit bone with the knee point up. Reach your right arm in front of the inside of the right knee, turn the thumb down and wrap the arm in front of the knee. Reach your left hand behind you to catch your right. Flex through both feet and fold forehead to knee. Repeat on the left.
5. Marichyasana C
Said to relieve constipation and massages liver and kidneys to aid in detoxification.
From seated, bend the right knee and place the foot on the ground right in front of the right sit bone with the knee point up. Twisting at the ribs, dive the left shoulder down, tricep pressing against the outside of your right knee. Turn the left thumb down and reach back with the right hand to catch. Gaze past the right shoulder, twisting above the belly button. Repeat on the left.
6. Supine Twist
By now you’re probably starting to see the point—in yoga we move our spine all four directions possible! Forward bends, backward bends, and side to side!
Laying on your back, hug your right knee into your chest, then drape it across your body, right arm reaches off to the side and keep your right shoulder on the mat. Stay and breathe. Repeat on the left.
7. Malasana Squat
In Eastern and Indigenous cultures, this was a natural sitting position. Thanks to chairs and Western living, this pose is now a challenge for many people! Remember the squatty potty craze? Same idea.
Separate your feet almost as wide as your mat, a little wider than your hips. Heels in and toes out to a 45 degree angle, drop your seat low, palms at prayer, triceps press against inner thighs. Glutes are off the ground, and you’re pressing into your heels. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat.
Relaxing your nervous system, toning your parasympathetic state—aka your rest and DIGEST state is key to healthy digestion.
Lay on your back and release all tension from the body. Close your eyes and breath.
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