We all know that yoga asana can help increase our general entirely by releasing back pain, reducing stress or increasing oxygen levels in the body, to name a few. But did you know that the practice of yoga can also help improve your digestive function?
Constipation, bloating, indigestion, cramping; we all occasionally experience these symptoms when we're on the road. Especially when we're traveling a country and eating foods which greatly vary from our own. Or when we go to places with different health and hygiene standards and the body simply can't handle the new bacteria. Dealing with gut issues on the road can turn the entire trip into a nightmare.
The physical practice of yoga includes several postures that can help cleanse, stimulate, aid, and encourage smooth digestive function. Here are my favorite seven yoga postures which may also help your digestion when traveling. Most of these are resting poses, inviting you to stay for longer periods of time, such as a few minutes or more.
Note that even though these yoga poses may offer you some support, they are no alternative to consulting a doctor, especially when suffering from an acute illness such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or bad diarrhea. And because every body is unique, the effects of each pose may be totally different for each and every one of us – what works for me may not necessarily work for you.
Yoga is a practice based on experience, and through regular practice, we can learn more about ourselves, our bodies, our minds and how everything is connected.
So whenever you are faced with digestive upset next time, consider giving some of these postures a try and find out what works best for you!
1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
To get into Supta Baddha Konasana, lie flat on your back with your feet pressed together and your knees open and relaxed. Try to keep the spine as long as possible, with the tailbone pointing towards your heels. Stay in this pose for as long as it feels comfortable. To come out, use your hands to press your thighs together, then roll over onto one side.
Supta Baddha Konasana doesn't only stimulate the abdominal organs but also improves general circulation and helps relieve symptoms of stress or mild depression and menstruation.
2. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose)
For Viparita Karani, your legs rest vertically (or nearly so) on a wall or other upright support. To get into the pose sit sideways first and then swing your legs up onto the wall. Root your shoulders and head down on the floor and keep the spine is in a neutral position. You can stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. To get out of the pose turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths before coming up.
This is probably my favorite pose for digestive problems and female issues. In addition, Viparita Karani can be beneficial when suffering from a headache or a migraine, insomnia, anxiety and high or low blood pressure.
3. Jathara Parivartaranasana (Reclining Twist Pose)
Twisting poses stretch the entire contents of the torso – including our digestive organs - from the pelvis all the way up through the neck. Twists are often seen as balms for sluggish digestion, low energy, breathing irregularities, and a variety of muscle aches and pains. I often imagine that by wringing out the spine like a wet towel we can get rid of sticky residues along the spinal curve. As such, twists make us feel good from the inside out!
Reclining Twist Pose offers a soft alternative of wringing out the body from its core by giving our stomach and digestive system a little massage. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet resting on the floor. Take a few moments to make sure the back body is long. Roll gently toward your left side and slip your right shoulder blade down toward the hips to create additional space between the ear and shoulder. Alternatively, you can also roll the complete body to the side. Repeat the movement on the other side.
4. Balasana (Wide-Legged Child’s Pose)
For this variation of Balasana, sit on your heels and touch your big toes together. Now separate your knees about as wide as your hips (or a bit wider, if flexibility allows it). You can either let your hands rest on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor or bring your arms to the front with your palms facing the ground.
Balasana is a resting pose that calms body and mind and helps relieve stress, dizziness and fatigue. To give the belly and abdominal organs some extra space you can also rest your head on a bolster or cushion.
5. Soft Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana is a pose known for stretching and lengthening the back, but did you know that if you add a little dose of yin to it, it can become a soothing digestive aid posture?
Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Now for the yin effect fold forward over the legs, allowing your back to round while releasing all muscle activity from your feet, legs, hip and spine. Lean into gravity and surrender. Give your body an extra release by placing your head on a bolster, block or pillow.
6. Soft Uttanasana (Dangling Pose)
Dangling Pose is an alternative for soft Paschimottanasana and for some of us this standing version may feel more comfortable when dealing with digestive issues. Stand up, with your feet hip-width apart, then bend your knees and fold forward. You can clasp the elbows with the opposite hands if it feels good for you.
Both Dangling Pose and Paschimottanasana softly compress the stomach and internal organs, they can encourage the cure of abdominal cramps and relieve digestive issues such as constipation.
7. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
The ultimate posture for all healing is Savasana. As you lie still, you allow all mental and physical stress to melt away while creating some healing space for your body. In this final resting pose your blood will start circulating from your extremities towards your digestive organs. When we are resting, our parasympathetic nervous system - the automatic “Rest and Digest” response of our body - is stimulated. The heart rate slows down, and our breathing deepens. All of this increases the oxygen flow towards the digestive organs, creating an ideal environment for digestion, cleansing, and healing.
To give your tummy and digestive system some extra rest, you may consider the following variation of Saviasana: Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, about hip-width apart. Now bring the knees together and completely relax into this pose.
7 Yoga Postures to Help Your Digestion While Traveling #travel #yoga
I hope this little series of yoga asana provides some relief if you're experiencing digestive troubles on your travels.
Which of the poses do you find particularly beneficial? Can you suggest any different/additional ones that support you when facing digestive upset? Let me know in the comments below - I would love to hear about your experience!
Image source: author's own