Whatever the reason of your abdominal discomfort – big meal, reach food, or something more serious like bloating, constipation, or IBS, when your gut is off – everything else feels wrong, we become miserable, and our life loses its colours. This yoga sequence, combining deep breathing, stretches that target abdominal organs, and twists that massage the belly, helps to relieve a wide range of digestive problems, regulate your bowels, decrease bloat, and as a result – restore your energy.
1. Pavanmuktasana, or ‘wind relieving pose’, - is one of the easiest yoga exercises for gut stimulation. This pose compresses the ascending colon on the right side and descending colon on the left, stimulating the nerves to aid elimination. It also helps in passing the gas, blocked in your intestine. It is especially beneficial when practiced in the morning.
First, lie down on your back stretching the legs straight. Then bend the right knee and hold it with your hands, pressing it towards your abdomen. Breathing out, lift up your head and touch your knee with your chin. Breathing in, stretch your legs straight. In the second stage, press your abdomen with both legs, placing the chin between your knees. From this position, swing your body back and forth 5 to 10 times, and then swing it left to right and right to left 5 to 10 times.
2. Setu Bandhasana has many benefits. Providing a good mobility exercise for the spine, a bridge pose also massages the abdominal organs by increasing intra-abdominal pressure, improves digestion, and at the same time delivers fresh blood to the heart.
Start by lying down on your back, then bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor as close to your buttocks as possible. Inhale and lift your hips up by pressing your feet and arms into the floor. Take a few deep breaths here, then slowly roll your spine down to release. If you had neck injuries or having ongoing neck problems, practice this pose under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
3. Downward-Facing Dog is one of the most renowned yoga poses, and no wonder, as it’s providing a full body rejuvenating stretch. Among other numerous benefits of the pose are: arms and legs strengthening, osteoporosis prevention, therapeutic effects for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis, and of course, relieving digestive problems. Taking deep breaths into your belly and pulling the navel up and in toward the spine each time as you exhale while holding the Down Dog pose – will nourish and stimulate your intestines.
Start in table pose. Place your hands shoulder-distance apart and knees hip-distance apart. Then use your core to move your hips up and back. If you have tight hamstrings or calves, bend your knees slightly and focus on lengthening your spine. Massage your abdomen by performing a deep abdominal breathing described earlier.
4. On par with the Downward Facing Dog, Janu Sirsasana is another forward bend pose which is great for a gut, liver and kidneys stimulation. In addition, it helps to stretch the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groins.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee, bringing the heel back toward your groin and placing the sole of your right foot against the left inner thigh. Inhale, and stretch your torso up to the top of your head. Exhaling bend forward form the base of your hip reaching for your ankles or toes with your hands (if you can) or stretch till you are comfortable. Keep the stretch for a minute or longer, focusing on long relaxing breathing. Release the stretch, then repeat the pose with the right leg stretched out.
It is best to practice this pose first thing in the morning to enhance the bowel movement. Provided you cannot exercise in the morning, make sure to keep your stomach empty before you practice this asana.
5. It’s fair to say that all rotational poses have a very good therapeutic effect on the abdominal organs, as during the twist the abdominal cavity is being compressed, which massages the gut and liver and stimulates the movement of accumulated toxins trapped in the body. Marichi’s Pose is one of the easiest twists and is suitable for students of all levels, however, if you had a serious spine injury practice this pose under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Start in seated position with legs stretched forward. Then bend your right knee and bring the foot closer to the groin. As you are exhaling, rotate your torso to the right and carefully try to reach the left arm outside of the right thigh. Place your other hand on the floor behind your back. Breath deep into your abdomen. Stay in the pose for a few minutes, then slowly untwist. Repeat all the above steps with the opposite side.