Yoga is great for digestion because the movement and postures help massage the internal organs and keep them functioning properly.
Yoga’s mindfulness also helps us listen to our hunger cues and eat only when we are hungry and stop when we are full. Yogic breathing activates the diaphragm; deep, full breath helps keep our metabolism revved and our body oxygenated.
Here are 5 yoga poses for digestion that anyone can do to help keep the juices active when the weather turns cold and heavier winter foods prevail. Try them whenever you feel a little sluggish or know you’re going to need a little extra help stimulating your digestion.
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is the perfect pose to start with, as it helps us connect to our breath and feel the deep diaphragmatic breathing in our lower back and entire abdomen. It also helps us calm down and relax and when we are stressed or tense, which can wreak havoc on our digestion.
Start on your shins (open the knees wide if you’re pregnant or have knee issues) and sit your hips back to your heels. Keep your arms relaxed by your sides and breathe deeply into your entire back body and shoulder region.
Hold for eight to ten breaths.
2. Mermaid Stretch
I love Mermaid for stretching out the sides and waist. We need to create space in our torso and abdominal region so we can breathe deeply and let our organs do their jobs. If we compress our mid section, it’s easier to feel gassy and bloated.
From Child’s Pose, come up to your shins and drop your hips to one side. Walk your hand out to the side towards the feet as you lift and extend your top arm overhead to side bend.
Stay for five to eight breaths on each side.
3. Seated Spinal Twist
Twists are like wringing out a dirty dishrag and are the best for stoking digestion and keeping things moving along.
After Mermaid, you can stay seated on one side, then bring the opposite leg around and place the foot outside the bottom knee (if your hips are too tight or you have knee issues, straighten the bottom leg out). Wrap the opposite arm around the knee as you twist in that direction.
Stay for five to eight breaths then switch sides.
4. Pigeon Pose
Our junk is often stored in our trunks, and Pigeon helps us clean house. Tight hips can bind us up and back us up. Pigeon is a great passive hip opener you can do to relieve pressure in the abdominals and outer hips and thighs.
Take the top leg from the twist and wrap it around behind you until it’s completely straight and you feel the opening on the outer side of the front hip. After five to eight breaths, switch sides.
5. King Arthur Lunge
Tight psoas and hip flexors can pull on our lower back and round us forward. The psoas muscle crosses from the upper inner thigh to the lower back, and can wreak havoc on the internal organs if they are super tight.
Performing a low lunge and bringing the back leg up for an added quad, hip flexor, and psoas stretch is an awesome way to alleviate indigestion and stretch the entire front body.
If bending the back knee in is too challenging, just stay in a low lunge. Try for five to eight breaths on each side. You can finish in Child’s Pose to rest and restore.
Try this sequence whenever you feel you need a boost in your digestion or are feeling a little sluggish. Yoga really can stimulate the metabolism and get things moving once again.