How to Use Yoga to Improve Gut Health
If you suffer from a severe gastrointestinal issue, such as SIBO or IBS, or even if you are dealing with some mild bloating, yoga is a great way to keep your digestive health on track. You can nourish your stomach with healthy food and holistic supplements, but regular yoga practice can be vital to a healthy gut.
Why Does Yoga Help?
In order to have healthy digestion, you need to have a healthy and diverse amount of bacteria within the digestive tract. Microbial diversity is so important because of the so many critical roles that your gut flora play to keep you functioning at your best.
With moderate amounts of exercise, you can increase your diversity of bacteria and boost the immune system. That’s also why physical exercise of yoga can inspire a positive, healthy change within the gut microbiome.
In one study, researchers looked into the gut environments of athletes (men with a normal BMI who engaged in light exercising) and non-athletes (overweight men with sedentary lifestyles). They found something interesting: a greater presence of a particular species of bacteria, (Akkermansiaceae, to be exact) which is linked to a reduced risk of ongoing inflammation and even a reduced risk for obesity.
Yoga also is deeply detoxifying, which is a key factor in improving digestion. By twisting into strengthening yoga poses, you can encourage your liver and kidneys to flush out toxins and enhance your digestion.
When it comes to bloating, yoga can help increase the amount of oxygen to your stomach and tone your tummy. Yoga is like a massage for your internal organs. If you have to deal with serious intestinal issues, gentle yoga poses and deep breathing are a perfect way to relax your gut.
Tailor Your Practice to Your Stomach Issues
There is no one yoga style that works for everyone. So when practicing yoga for a healthier digestion, you need to keep a few things in mind.
Since you don’t want to stress your gut out any more than it already is, you should look at yoga from an Ayurvedic perspective. Gentle Hatha yoga is great for digestion, but it depends on what type of yoga you do. It is always best to practice at your own speed and to not overly exert yourself. This can lead to injuries and anxiety, which is negative for your gut health.
The Best Gut-Friendly Poses
If you stick to these yoga poses on a regular basis, your gut will be thanking you
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)–This pose increases flexibility in the hamstrings and spine, calms and cools the mind, improves digestion, relieves digestive problems such as constipation, slows the heart and nourishes the brain cells.
Revolved Crescent Lunge–This pose helps massage the abdominal muscles. By compressing the colon in specific ways (right to left), you can help stimulate digestion. Detoxifying twists can stimulate the movement of those toxins that accumulate in the body and help them out of the body.
Low Lunge–When your hip flexors are tight, they interfere with your internal organ function. This including digestion. Low lunge stretches the front of the body and helps keep things moving in the right direction.
Camel Pose (Ushtrasana)—This pose stretches the stomach and intestines. I suggest the camel pose if you need to alleviate constipation.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)—Child’s pose is my personal favorite for helping with stomach pain flare ups. This pose compresses the abdomen and massages the internal organs which can feel very soothing.
Wind Relieving Pose (Apanasana)—This is another easy pose that is very relaxing. The wind relieving pose massages the ascending and descending colon.
Corpse Pose (Savasana) The most important yoga pose and the ultimate posture for all healing: Savasana. As you lie still, you’re allowing stress to melt away and you are literally creating a healing environment for your body. Your blood will start to flow away from your extremities and towards your digestive organs. This creates the ideal environment for digestion.
Josh Sabourin is a gut health hacker and healthy lifestyle entrepreneur who created SIBOSurvivor.com. After dealing with a personal health crisis in his own life when he came down with a gastrointestinal condition called SIBO he decided to dive into the natural health world for remedies. He is working to combine his passions for natural health and business to create products that improve the quality of life for people who suffer with intestinal issues. Josh is an advocate of yoga, herbal medicine, healthy cooking, and other alternative treatment methods. You can find some of his tasty whole food recipes on the SIBO recipes page.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!