Yoga for Constipation: 10 Poses to Relieve Gas And Get Things Moving

Try yoga for constipation as an alternative to medications. These gentle poses stimulate digestion and help promote smoother bowel movements.

Now, why yoga specifically? Well, yoga isn’t just about stretching and flexibility; it also involves a lot of movements and positions that gently massage and stimulate your digestive organs. Poses like the garland pose (Malasana) or the knee-to-chest pose (Apanasana) can help stimulate the movement of food and waste through your intestines. Ahead, we cover the most effective yoga poses for constipation along with some details on why constipation happens so that you can both manage and prevent it. Read on. 

What Is Constipation And Why Does It Occur?

Constipation refers to a condition characterized by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stools. Typically, individuals experiencing constipation may have fewer than three bowel movements per week, and their stools may be hard, dry, and difficult to pass. 

Constipation can occur due to various factors, such as (1):

  • Poor Diet: You may be more prone to constipation if your diet has inadequate fiber or fluids. Fiber is responsible for adding bulk to stool, making it easier to pass. Similarly, an inadequate intake of fluids can lead to dehydration, resulting in harder stools.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of exercise or physical activity can significantly slow down the digestive process, causing constipation. 
  • Psychological Factors: Stress, anxiety, and depression can affect gut motility and exacerbate constipation symptoms.
  • Medications: Some OTC and prescription drugs like opioids, antidepressants, and iron supplements, can slow down bowel movements as a side effect. 
  • Medical Conditions: Chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, hypothyroidism, and certain neurological disorders can affect the normal functioning of the digestive system and lead to constipation.

How Does Yoga for Constipation Relief Work?

 

According to Dr. Tiffany Lester, a board-certified Integrative Medicine Physician, “Yoga aids in digestion by keeping our lymphatic system flowing from the gentle squeezing of the muscles during the poses. Our lymphatic system is like a toilet – if you never flush it, then it gets backed up. Yoga helps to flush out the toxins that accumulate in our lymphatic system on a daily basis.” 

According to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, senior citizens who practiced yoga had better sleep quality and improved digestive health (2).

To break it all down, here’s how effective poses in yoga work to regularize bowel movements: 

  • Improves Digestion: Certain yoga poses promote blood flow to the digestive organs, enhancing their function and aiding in the digestion process.
  • Relieves Stress: Yoga encourages relaxation through controlled breathing and mindfulness practices, reducing stress levels that can contribute to constipation (3).
  • Stimulates Bowel Movements: Specific yoga poses involve twisting, stretching, and compressing the abdomen, which can stimulate peristalsis (the involuntary contractions of the intestines) and facilitate bowel movements.

10 Yoga Poses for Constipation Relief

Here are the most effective yoga poses for constipation relief, so roll out your yoga mat and get ready to activate your stomach muscles. 

 

According to Dr. Tiffany Lester, a board-certified Integrative Medicine Physician, “Yoga aids in digestion by keeping our lymphatic system flowing from the gentle squeezing of the muscles during the poses. Our lymphatic system is like a toilet – if you never flush it, then it gets backed up. Yoga helps to flush out the toxins that accumulate in our lymphatic system on a daily basis.” 

According to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, senior citizens who practiced yoga had better sleep quality and improved digestive health (2).

To break it all down, here’s how effective poses in yoga work to regularize bowel movements: 

  • Improves Digestion: Certain yoga poses promote blood flow to the digestive organs, enhancing their function and aiding in the digestion process.
  • Relieves Stress: Yoga encourages relaxation through controlled breathing and mindfulness practices, reducing stress levels that can contribute to constipation (3).
  • Stimulates Bowel Movements: Specific yoga poses involve twisting, stretching, and compressing the abdomen, which can stimulate peristalsis (the involuntary contractions of the intestines) and facilitate bowel movements.

1 Knee-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana)

Lie on your back, hug your knees to your chest, and gently rock from side to side. This pose helps massage the abdominal organs and promotes bowel movements.

2. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Sit on the floor with your legs extended, fold forward from the hips, and reach for your feet. This pose stretches the back muscles and massages the abdominal organs, aiding in digestion.

3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Lie on your stomach, place your palms beneath your shoulders, and lift your chest off the floor while keeping your pelvis grounded. Cobra pose strengthens the abdominal muscles and stimulates digestion.

4. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Squat down with your feet flat on the floor, knees wide apart, and hands pressed together in a prayer position. This pose helps open the hips and facilitates bowel movements.

5. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

Start on your hands and knees, arch your back upward like a cat (Marjaryasana), then drop your belly and lift your tailbone toward the ceiling (Bitilasana). This dynamic movement massages the digestive organs and improves flexibility.

6. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Start on your hands and knees, arch your back upward like a cat (Marjaryasana), then drop your belly and lift your tailbone toward the ceiling (Bitilasana). This dynamic movement massages the digestive organs and improves flexibility.

6. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

 

Lie on your stomach, bend your knees, reach back with your hands to grasp your ankles, and lift your chest and thighs off the floor. Bow pose stretches the abdominal muscles and massages the digestive organs.

8. Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)

Lie on your back, hug one knee to your chest, and extend the other leg. Hold for a minute, then switch sides. This pose helps release trapped gas and ease constipation.

9. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Stand with feet hip-width apart, fold forward from the hips, and reach for your shins or the floor. This one gets the blood flowing to your belly and helps with digestion.

10. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and lift your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your shoulders and feet grounded. Bridge pose is like a mini workout for your abs and helps stimulate your digestive organs.

When to See a Doctor for Constipation?

While yoga can be effective in managing mild to moderate constipation, it’s essential to seek medical advice if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Persistent constipation lasting more than two weeks
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Altering constipation and diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Rectal bleeding

These symptoms could indicate an underlying medical condition that requires prompt evaluation and treatment by a healthcare professional. Additionally, if constipation persists despite lifestyle modifications and yoga practice, your doctor may recommend further evaluation and possibly prescribe medications or other interventions to alleviate your symptoms.

Conclusion

While yoga for constipation might not be a magical cure-all, practicing the above-mentioned stretches and poses for constipation can help improve your digestion and overall gut health, making it easier for you to go when nature calls. Plus, yoga can be a great way to stay active and care for yourself physically and mentally. For regular bowel habits, add fiber-rich foods to your diet, keep moving, and stay hydrated. Ultimately, yoga is an alternative therapy, so if you feel that symptoms of constipation are becoming severe or hard to manage at home, do seek medical guidance.

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