The Benefits of Yoga for Gut Health
Written by Ashton Antoine, Certified Strength & Nutrition Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher
If you are experiencing gut issues, a simple yoga practice and deep breathing are a great way to relax the mind and body (the gut space). Think of this practice as a massage to your internal organs.
The twisting postures of yoga can assist your digestion and encourage the liver and kidney’s detoxification processes and help with bloating by increasing oxygen to the area.
Always add the qualities of love and compassion, warmth, stability, grounding, and focus mixed with a slower, calming practice that encourages awareness and acceptance. A yoga practice that creates space, stimulation, comfort, and elevation is a good place to start.
Here are some yoga poses which are gut health friendly:
1.Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)
This pose can increase flexibility in the hamstrings and spine, calm the mind, improve digestion, and relieve constipation.
- From a standing pose with heels slightly apart, tailbone tucked under, shoulders down and back and arms beside you with your palms facing forwards.
- Inhale, sweep arms out to the sides then up above your head. Exhale, gradually fold forward from hips, lengthening the spine and lowering upper body over your legs.
- Relax the upper body. Allow arms to fall to the floor. You can also wrap your left hand to your right elbow and your right hand to left elbow. Feel free to bend your knees to create comfort behind the knees or in your hamstrings.
- Hold for 7 breaths then release gradually, rolling up your spine one vertebrae at a time.
2.Camel Pose (Ushtrasana)
Camel pose stretches the stomach and intestines, potentially easing constipation.
- Start in a kneeling position with your knees about hip width apart, your thighs perpendicular to the floor and the soles of your feet facing the ceiling.
- Inhale, draw your hands up the sides of your body as you push your chest forward and up and gently drive your hips forward.
- Exhale, reach your hands back one at a time towards your heels (If challenging, curl your toes under and rest on the balls of your feet or use yoga blocks to make it easier).
3.Child’s pose (Balasana)
Child's pose compresses the abdomen and massages the internal organs.
- From all fours position. Inhale, bring big toes together keeping heels apart.
- Exhale, slowly lower buttocks toward heels as you fold your body down and shift forward, with stomach resting on thighs.
- Reach your arms towards the top of the mat, placing your forehead on the mat (use a yoga blog or blanket to rest your forehead or chest). Feel free to spread knees away from each other to create more space and comfort.
- Hold for 7 breaths. Gently return to all fours position.
4.Crescent lunge with twist (Anjaneyasana)
This pose twists the internal organs to help stimulate digestion and massage the abdominal muscles. Squeezing the colon in specific ways (right to left) can aid in digestion. These twists can also trigger the movement of unwanted (toxic) agents that accumulate in the body and can help eliminate them.
- From a half-kneeling position. Inhale, sweep arms out to the sides then up above your head, hands to high prayer.
- Exhale, lower hands to heart center.
- Inhale. Exhale rotate your upper body to the left, twisting from your waist bringing your right elbow outside the left knee.
- Gaze up at your left elbow and take a long slow deep breath into the belly and relax. Hold for 7 breaths.
- Inhale. Exhale as you slowly return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side.
Gut issues are common and if you find yourself experiencing them, consider implementing a whole food nutrition plan aligned with a daily exercise practice like yoga, to boost the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle.
Ashton Antoine is a competitive runner and cyclist who believes everyone can achieve optimal health and wellness in a safe, effective and sustainable way. Ash loves life and living, and brings his optimistic approach to every client relationship and training session. Specializing in athletic performances, strength and conditioning with a focus on running and cycling, he emphasizes the mind-body connection for active healthy lifestyles. Yoga has allowed him to deepen the connection between mind-body and has elevated self-love and compassion. When teaching he encourages his students to create their own daily practice. Ash is a certified functional strength (CFSC), precision nutrition (PN1), and pre/postnatal coach. He is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200).