With nearly three-fourths of Americans suffering from some sort of digestive disorder, a little yoga is in order. Not only does yoga make the body bendy, tone the booty, and beat stress (as we all know); asanas also act on the internal organs. This serious benefit is seriously overlooked, but for those in need of a digestive boost, yoga delivers.
Digestively speaking, yoga works in these five powerful ways.
1. Belly breathing nourishes.
Many people with digestive imbalances have a bad habit of shallow chest breathing. This not only robs the body of sufficient oxygen, but the diaphragm doesn’t get to massage the abdominal organs with its downward push, as designed.
At the other end of the spectrum, yogic belly-breathing properly oxygenates and massages the internal organs. Anyone new to yoga and looking to improve digestion should start out by learning how to breathe like a yogi.
2. Twists rejuvenate.
Twisting movements literally squeeze out toxin-filled blood. When released, loads of fresh, nutrient- and oxygen-filled blood rushes in. Twists also stretch the organs one side at a time.
3. Forward bends press and massage.
When you fold the body in half—during poses like Paschimottanasana and Balasana—the abdominal organs are gently pressed. This gives a sort of internal massage to the abdomen, which improves organ function.
4. Sun Salutations make prana flow.
Stagnant energy can be a cause of stagnant digestive imbalances, such as constipation. Sun Salutations and flowing movements release energy blocks and allow prana to flow in all of its desired directions.
5. Mindful movements reestablish balance.
Chronic stress is linked to digestive disorders. Stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to stay on high alert. In this state, the body focuses on “fight or flight” instead of “rest and digest.” Yoga offers the body and mind a chance to register that it’s not under threat. The parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, and the body is able to focus more attention on digestion.
All of these actions come together here to form one powerful yoga sequence for digestive health. Practice this sequence daily to ignite the digestive fire and relieve bloating, gas, and constipation.