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If you’ve been having digestive and gut issues, you’ve probably tried every all-natural remedy you can think of.
Teas and herbal remedies… eating mindfully… drinking more water…
But there’s another solution you may not have tried yet, one that benefits not just your digestive system, but your overall health and wellbeing.
Body and mind.
And all you need is a yoga mat!
Let’s look at the ways in which yoga can benefit your digestive and gut health, and the 5 poses you should be doing to feel your best: body, mind, spirit… and digestive system.
Gut Health and Digestion
Can a series of yoga poses improve your gut health and digestion?
But before we begin exploring the connection between yoga, gut health, and digestion, let’s define what we mean by a “healthy” gut and robust digestive system.
Your digestive health, how your body breaks down and absorbs food, is just one part of your gut health. Having a healthy gut makes it easier for your body to digest food efficiently and effectively, without side effects such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and more.
But your gut health also affects your overall well-being: your physical, emotional, and mental health.
So how do you achieve a healthy gut?
Through bacteria! The right bacteria, that is.
Right now, there are billions of bacteria living in your gut microbiome. Some of these are beneficial (good) bacteria and others are pathogenic (bad) bacteria.
Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true.
Colonies of bad bacteria thrive and leave little to no room for beneficial bacteria, leading to a surprisingly common condition known as dysbiosis. This will negatively affect almost every area of your health, including your digestive system.
These are some of the symptoms of dysbiosis.
- Lack of concentration
- Mood disorders, including anxiety and depression
- Mood swings
- Skin issues, especially acne or eczema
- Sleep issues, such as insomnia
- Weight loss or gain
To have a healthy gut, the goal, then, is to encourage the growth of good bacteria and rebalance the gut microbiome.
And surprisingly, yoga can help with digestion and your overall gut health.
What is Yoga?
By now, almost everyone is familiar with the basics of yoga, or at least the Western world’s version of it. You put on comfortable, stretchy clothes, lay out a mat, dim the lights, then bend and twist your body into a series of poses.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Well… yes, and no.
What you might be doing at a yoga class in the gym or by following your favorite online yogi is usually only one side of yoga, the physical aspect (also called asanas).
But yoga is more than just movement. It’s an ancient Hindu philosophy that encompasses a number of mind and body practices.
Along with asanas, the most commonly practiced aspects of yoga include:
And when practiced with intention, yoga can have a surprisingly positive impact on your digestion and gut health. Let’s explore this yoga-gut connection.
Can Yoga Help with Gut Health and Digestion?
The answer to that is a definite yes!
There are specific yoga poses or flows—dynamic movements that take you from one pose to the next—that can help your digestive system and gut.
But it’s not just about the poses.
Remember, yoga is more than movement. There are actually quite a few ways in which practicing yoga can improve your gut health and digestion.
Before we dive (or bend, or twist) into the best yoga poses for your gut, let’s take a closer look at the ways in which yoga can help you achieve a healthy, happy gut.
Stimulates Your Digestive System
It’s easy to stimulate specific muscles, through carefully curated exercises and stretches.
But how do you stimulate your digestive system? There’s no way to stretch or flex your gut microbiome.
But if you’ve spent some time either in a yoga class or observing one, you know that some poses require your body to bend, stretch, flex, twist… you get the idea!
And since many of those movements occur at the torso, you can think of them almost as an internal massage. The asanas gently loosen and relax your digestive system, while at the same time boosting oxygen to the area to get your digestive muscles working.
Depending on the exact pose, it can help relieve constipation, encourage digestion, and promote detoxification.
Your gut and your brain are connected via a two-way “information highway” that sends signals back and forth, referred to as the gut-brain axis. What you feel or experience in one area, you’ll likely feel or experience in the other.
Just think about it.
Butterflies in your stomach on a first date. Tummy troubles before a big presentation.
The connection between your digestive health and your mind is undeniable. It’s no surprise, then, that when you’re stressed out and frazzled, your digestive system goes a little haywire, too. In fact, stress management is one of the recommendations for anyone trying to improve their digestion and gut health.
Just as yoga asanas help relax your muscles, other yoga practices such as breathwork and meditation can help relax your mind.
5 Simple and Effective Yoga Poses to Improve Gut Health and Digestion
Ready to begin practicing yoga for gut health and digestion?
Here are the poses we’d recommend starting with.
Standing Forward Bend
This excellent yoga pose for digestion is exactly as its name says.
- Stand with your feet close together, toes touching and heels apart. Tuck your tailbone under, and place your arms at your side with your palms facing forward.
- Inhale and sweep your arms out and over your head.
- Bend your body forward at the hips, resing your upper body over your legs. Place your right hand on your left elbow and your left hand on your right elbow.
- Relax and breathe.
- When you’re ready, roll your body up to standing, one vertebrae at a time.
This pose can improve digestion, help with specific digestive issues such as constipation, and calm your mind.
One of the best yoga poses is also one of the easiest.
- Kneel on your yoga mat, then shift so that you’re sitting back on your heels.
- Fold your body over your legs and walk your hands out away from your body, palms flat on the mat.
- Push your shoulders away from your ears and try to stay as low as you comfortably can.
This pose compresses the organs of your digestive system, which helps stimulate digestion.
Ever heard of a “squatty potty”? This curved stool is placed at the front of your toilet to help you get your body in the ideal position to “go.”
But you can get the same result with this yoga pose.
- Place your feet hip width apart and lower your hips into a deep squat, as low to the ground as possible, weight on your heels.
- Keep your chest open and your heart lifted up to the sky.
- Bring your hands together in front of your chest (prayer position) and gently push your inner thighs apart with your elbows.
As we mentioned, this pose is extremely helpful for encouraging healthy bowel movements.
Twisting poses are amongst the best for digestive and gut health.
- Lay on your mat, flat on your back.
- Bring your knees to your chest, then roll them over to the right side of your body. Keep your knees together and stacked on top of one another.
- Keep both shoulders on the ground, and turn your head and neck to the left.
- Repeat, twisting to the other side.
A supine twist activates your bowels, detoxing your body and alleviating constipation.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose is the perfect way to end your yoga practice.
- Lie on your back on your yoga mat.
- Keep your legs comfortably close, feet turned out slightly.
- Extend your arms out from your body at a natural angle, palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, a mantra, or a visual image that brings you peace.
This calming pose helps your mind relax, reduces stress, and sends the right, healthy message along your gut brain axis.
Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re practicing yoga.
- Take your time with your poses. Ideally, you’ll hold them for around 10 breaths, somewhere around 30-45 seconds.
- If anything feels painful, stop immediately. You might feel a deep stretch, but you should never feel acute pain.
- You can always adjust poses so that they feel more comfortable and natural for you.
Other Ways to Boost Digestion and Gut Health
Once you’ve begun your yoga journey, you can continue making other gut-healthy choices.
Combined with yoga, these lifestyle tweaks can be as simple as:
- Exercising regularly: 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 3-5 times per week
- Making wise food choices: reduce sugar, red meat, and alcohol; focus on fresh produce, whole grains, and lean protein
- Getting enough sleep: 7-8 hours per night for most adults
All of these can help reduce bad bacteria, support good bacteria, and improve your overall health—including your gut and digestive health.
Another way to boost your gut health is by consuming probiotics.
Probiotics are bacteria that are similar or identical to the beneficial bacteria that are already living in your gut microbiome.
When you consume probiotics through food, drinks, or supplements, they add their strength and number to the existing colonies of good bacteria, strengthening them and ultimately crowding out the pathogenic, or bad, bacteria.
Probiotics occur naturally in food and drinks such as:
- Probiotic yogurt (low or no sugar ideally)
- Sourdough bread
- And certain other fermented food and drinks
However, it’s almost impossible to know, first, how much probiotic bacteria they contain and second, how much of it survives all the way to your gut microbiome.
A probiotic supplement, on the other hand, will tell you exactly what you’re getting (bacterial stains) and how much of it.
However, not all probiotics are created equal!
Our favorite is Just Thrive Probiotic. The spore-based strains in this supplement—like those our ancestors used to get from the soil—are protected by a thick endospore shell that acts as a coat of armor, shielding them from the enzymes, bile, stomach acids, and other substances they must travel through before arriving in your gut microbiome.
Just Thrive Probiotic is guaranteed to arrive 100% alive in your gut and has 1000x better survivability vs. leading probiotics.
Take one capsule daily along with your yoga practice to help support your best digestive, immune, and total-body health.
Practiced regularly, yoga helps your mind and body feel stronger, healthier, and generally better.
And naturally, this includes your gut health and digestive health.
The right yoga poses can get your digestive system working just as it should, rebalance your gut microbiome, and help you feel fantastic.
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