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Yoga Practice to Aid DigestionYoga Practice to Aid Digestion

Yoga Practice to Aid Digestion

Feeling bloated, stressed out, or a bit of a misery guts? Our busy lives mean we all-too-often eat the wrong things, at the wrong times, plated up with a side of stress and anxiety. So it’s no wonder our stomachs often bear the brunt of it. But there is one wonderful practice that can ease the discomfort and help us feel a little more like ourselves again...

Enter yoga! Yoga is about so much more than flexibility and strength, it’s a really powerful tool that helps kick us out of the flight or fight part of our autonomic nervous system (the one that’s responsible for making us feel anxious and nervous) and into rest and digest. It’s no secret that stress can play a huge role in digestive issues, from IBS and upset tummies to chronic indigestion, but yoga as a practice can help soothe and restore. In fact, one study found that women who practiced an hour of hatha yoga three times a week showed a significant reduction in stress, anxiety and depression.

So, if this sounds a little like you and you’d like to settle and soothe that tummy, here’s a short and simple yoga sequence to help you rest and digest! Roll out your mat, pop on our yoga playlist and invite some yoga into your life.

Precautions - do not attempt this yoga practice if you

  • Have back problems
  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • Have issues with your blood pressure

Cat Cow (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

Great for stimulating the digestive system and massaging the abdominal muscles and organs. 

How to practice

  • Come into tabletop position - hands flat, knees on the mat, with a neutral spine. Ensure your knees are in line with your hips and your wrists are in line with your shoulders.
  • Breathe in as you tilt your pelvis to lift your tailbone up and lower your belly down. Roll your shoulders back and gaze forward.
  • Breathe out as you round your shoulders forward and draw your belly in towards your spine. Lower your gaze towards your navel and exhale your breath fully.

Repeat 5-10 times.

Cat Cow - Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Enjoy this nourishing stretch as you let your abdomen fully lengthen out and stimulate your digestive system. 

How to practice - From cat-cow to downward dog

  • In tabletop position, breathe in, make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart and lift up into downward-facing dog.
  • Sending your hips towards the back of the room and your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Let the crown (top) of your head hang down towards the mat.

Stay here for five breaths.

Downward Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Ideal for easing constipation and giving your digestive system a good stretch. 

How to practice - from downward dog to cobra

  • Release your body into a plank position and drop your knees, your chest, and your chin.
  • Lying face down on the mat, keep your feet hip-width apart keep your hands flat by the side of your chest, with your elbows bent.
  • Gently press into your hands and push yourself up so your upper chest and head are off the mat.
  • Keep your hips straight and on the mat.

Hold for five breaths.

Cobra - Bhujangasana

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

A great way to massage and stimulate blood flow in the digestive system and help relieve constipation.

How to practice - from cobra into bow

  • Lower yourself down from cobra and stay lying on the mat face forward.
  • Bend both knees in towards your buttocks.
  • Reach your arms round to grab your ankles - keeping your knees hip-width apart.
  • Draw your feet towards you and lift your thighs off the mat.
  • Gently lift your neck and chest up and keep your hips on the mat.
  • You can rock from side to side too, gently massaging your abdominal muscles.

Hold for five breaths.

Bow Pose - Dhanurasana

Knees to Chest (Pavanamuktasana)

Also known as wind-relieving pose!

How to practice - from bow to knees to chest

  • Roll onto your back.
  • Stretch your body out and draw your knees in towards your chest.
  • As you exhale, gently bring your nose to touch your knees.
Knees to Chest - Pavanamuktasana

Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

How to practice - from knees to chest to supine twist

How to practice - from knees to chest to supine twist

  • Lie on your back, body stretched out.
  • Hug your knees towards your chest and inhale.
  • As you exhale, drop your knees to the left.
  • Extend your arms out by your side and turn your head to the right.
  • Repeat on the other side.

These twists help to wring out the digestive system. Twists in yoga are a great way to release trapped wind in the abdomen and improve blood circulation and flow to your organs.

Supine Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana

Ujjayi Breath

The perfect breath practice to tap into the rest and digest part of your nervous system, calming it down. Also known as the ocean breath.

How to practice

  • Seated or lying down.
  • Take a breath in through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.
  • Restrict the back of your throat, whilst keeping your mouth closed and exhale - as if you’re fogging up a mirror.
  • Repeat 10 times.

It will sound as if you’re snoring or making a wave-like sound. This breath taps into your vagus nerve and works to calm your central nervous system down. Which in turn, helps to regulate your body and is good for your digestion, by supplying more oxygen to your body and helping regulate your digestive system.

Ujjayi Breath

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

A natural and practical way to soothe your gut and increase blood flow, relieve trapped wind and reduce bloating.

How to practice 

  • Lie on your back, legs hip-width apart, palms facing upwards, let your ankles fall to the sides.
  • Gently tilt your chin in towards your chest.
  • Close your eyes and let yourself become aware of your breath.
  • Expand your belly and chest as you inhale and release as you exhale.
  • Don’t rush!

The key here is to stay in Savasana for at least five minutes, helping to calm and soothe your nervous system. Try and practice this with the Ujjayi Breath

Corpse Pose - Savasana
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