When I first started yoga, I thought I knew about all the benefits yoga would offer me after practicing regularly for a while.
However, some took me by surprise. A lot of these mental surprises were mental and emotional benefits. But one physical benefit of yoga practice that I didn’t completely predict was better digestion.
There are a variety of poses within yoga that physically encourage better digestion. In this post I will walk you through some poses that may help, explain why digestion is so important for your health, and consider the right types of foods you could eat to help you as well.
Digestion is key
So often we focus on our health, but so often we overlook one of the key processes happening in our body every day – digestion.
I think it’s easy to forget about our gut health, and easy to overlook things that may be beneficial.
However, I think it’s really important we do consider improving our digestion, and here’s why:
- Better digestion = more energy
We eat foods that we think will give us the most energy (hopefully!). But what use is that if our bodies can’t complete the necessary processes for that energy to be released?
Energy is released from foods once the food is broken down into tiny particles. And that’s what digestion does. A more efficient digestive system enables the better breaking down of those foods, resulting in greater energy.
We can’t digest everything we eat, and the process of digestion ensures that anything we can’t digest, we get rid of. In order for our bodies to stay healthy, we need to store and use what we need and what’s helpful for us, and get rid of anything that isn’t.
Think of a good digestive system and a good filtering system for this.
Leading on from point one, what is the point in eating healthy, nutritious food if your body doesn’t properly use it, or worse – gets rid of it. When your digestive system is healthy, it knows what to do with the right and wrong foods.
This leads to better absorption and use of nutritional foods, making eating healthy worth your time and money!
Yoga poses for better digestion
So where does yoga come in?
Well, there are many yoga poses that can encourage good digestion, leading to all of the benefits listed above. If you feel your digestive system needs to be put back on track, try some of these poses out:
Sat crossed-legged on the floor, inhale as you extend your arms up. As you exhale, gently sway over to one side and stay here for a few breaths. You’ll want to feel the stretch in the side of your body. Repeat on the other side.
Whilst on your hands and knees, make sure your spine is in a neutral position. Make sure the crown of your head is facing the front of the room. Very gently and slowly, begin to lift your sitting bones to the ceiling. As you do this, gently tilt the middle of your back to the ground, so that you have a slight arch in your back. Then, begin to tilt your chest down as well, and bring your head up, looking to the sky.
Stay here for a few breaths.
Slowly begin to bring your head down to your chest, whilst pushing your shoulder blades together, raising your shoulders. Begin to raise the middle of your back to the sky, creating an arch in the other direction. Tilt your sitting bones in, and squeeze your glutes.
Lay flat on your back. Inhale and extend your arms above your head, stretching out your torso. As you exhale, bend your knees towards your chest, and hug your knees with your arms, holding onto either each wrist or elbow. Make sure your feet are side by side. As you breathe deeper, try to push your lower back further onto the ground, and bring your knees to your chest as far as you can.
How it works
So you’ve tried the poses, maybe felt some benefits, but still wondering how this all works?
Lots of us these days are sat behind a desk for 7+ hours per day. In the same position, same movements, and same patterns.
By moving your body in different ways, you are healing and caring for your internal organs, allowing them to do their jobs more efficiently.
Yoga calms the mind and helps us to relax. There is actually a part of your gut that can be called the ‘second brain’. Your intestines are affected by your emotions, and affected by stress.
Keeping your mind happy keeps your gut healthy.
Poses that encourage twisting and turning can have an affect on your digestive track by getting things moving. When we are stuck in the same position all day, our bodies aren’t encouraged to digest any food we’re eating. You should notice less bloating and better digestion once your incorporate yoga into your weekly routine.
Eating the right foods
I guess this is all great, but if you don’t combine yoga with healthy foods then you won’t make the most out of these tips and yoga poses.
To improve your digestion, experts recommend eating more fibre. The NHS website recommends an average of 30g fibre a day.
It’s also important to drink more water to aid digestion – water encourages movement in your digestive tract. Also try avoiding caffeine and fatty foods.
Did you learn anything new?
If you learnt something new from this post, then let me know! It’s interesting how much we don’t realise in terms of yoga benefits, and sometimes how much we overlook certain areas of our life and health we could do with improving.
Gut health isn’t as ‘high-profile’ as weight loss or mental health, but can have an effect on many areas in your life.
So what are you waiting for?
Give some of these tips a try and see how it goes!
All the best