Gas, indigestion, constipation – these are all digestive issues that come with their own set of uncomfortable symptoms, and we have all been there! But how do we find relief? While some symptoms arise from more serious conditions, many discomforts can be attributed to what we eat, our dietary restrictions and even our stress levels. A little bit of movement can help alleviate digestive discomfort. While medication or dietary adjustments may need to be made in some cases, many basic symptoms can be relieved with some simple stretching, and nothing stretches a body better than yoga.
If the thought of bending and contorting has you nervous, do not worry. The most basic move in any yoga practice is something we all do everyday – breathing. Adding some minor movements to an awareness of breath can help push those pains right out of our bellies. The best part? It is 100% natural. Take a look at these four easy and effective poses, any of which can be done from the comfort of home, regardless of the amount of experience you have with yoga.
Symptom: You’ve Got Gas
Solution: Resting Pose (Child’s Pose)
Is there a better workout move than one featuring the term ‘resting’ in its name? The resting position, or child’s pose, is a basic stretch and fundamental aspect of many yoga practices. This is a grounding pose, something you can always come back to when you need to catch your breath, feel centered or stretch out the back and/or abdominal muscles. Child’s pose is ideal for anyone with gas or constipation, as the pressure the body applies to the lower abdomen in this position can help relieve any pain associated with either condition.
To find yourself in child’s pose, simply kneel on the floor so that your hips touch the heels of your feet. Placing your hands on the floor in front of you, slowly walk your hands out away from you until you start to bend at the waist, stretching as far as you can. Try to go until your head reaches the floor with your belly pressed firmly against the thighs. Breathe in and out through the nose for about 20-30 seconds, then slowly walk yourself back up using your hands.
Symptom: You’re Feeling Bloated
Solution: Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
This pose, also known as the wind-relieving pose, is an easy and satisfying way to ease the burden of belly bloat, while also diminishing gas pains. The best part? You get to lie down while you do it!
To find this pose, simply lie flat on your back, placing your hands on your knees and breathe in. On the exhale, bring your knees up to your chest, and hug them with your arms, gently rocking your body from side to side (very tiny motions here, no need to rock all the way to the floor). Hold it here for 5-10 breaths, release and repeat a few times.
Symptom: You’re Constipated
Solution: Deep Squat (Malasana)
This deep stretch requires a little more flexibility. If you need to modify, place a pillow under your butt or slowly lower yourself down by holding onto a firm surface, such as the arm of a chair. The idea here is to assume a deep squat position, so start with the feet slightly wider than hips width and toes pointing out and away from one another. Once you’ve lowered as far as you can, let your tailbone drop, bring your hands into a prayer position (right in front of the chest) and push the thighs apart with your elbows. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and slowly rise up on an exhale.
Symptom: You’ve Got Indigestion
Solution: Belly Stretch (Cobra Pose)
This simple stretch provides abdominal muscles with a very deep and satisfying stretch while stimulating circulation and improving digestion. This increased blood flow and circulation can also help alleviate symptoms associated with constipation by helping the colon receive more oxygen. Not only does it feel great on an uncomfortable tummy, but the stretch also helps open up the chest, allowing for a nice, deep inhale when you just need a minute to unwind from any stress that might come with your day.
To find the Cobra Pose, lie flat with your belly on the ground. Bend the elbows, keeping them close by the body and place palms flat on the floor. On an inhale, aim your head up toward the sky, straighten up those arms and push your body ever so slightly up off the floor. You should feel your abdominal muscles stretching. Hold for about 5-10 seconds, and slowly release back to the floor as you exhale. Repeat a few times, resting for a couple of seconds in between each stretch.
Of course, these stretches are only intended to help relieve basic and uncomfortable symptoms. If you find yourself in chronic stomach pain or experience excessive digestive discomfort, consult a doctor immediately.