Increasing numbers of people worldwide are turning their attention to the ancient practice of yoga. And for good reason—studies suggest that a regular yoga practice can have many health benefits, ranging from boosting cardiovascular fitness to reducing stress levels. But one health area that many don’t realize yoga affects is improved digestion and gut health.
When most people think of yoga, they think of stretching, meditation, and breathing exercises. Traditional Indian yoga, which dates all the way back to 3500 B.C., combines all three of these components into a dynamic practice.
- Asanas (postures)
- Dyana (meditation)
- Pranayama (breathing exercises)
Benefits of Yoga on Digestion and Gut Health
It’s no secret that the moderate physical movement involved in a yoga practice can be good for gut health. This is largely due to its potential benefits in mitigating cancer risk, cholelithiasis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, and constipation.
Even more fascinating is yoga’s influence on our microbiome. In recent years, researchers have uncovered a phenomenon called the Gut-Brain Axis. In short, the microflora in our gut utilizes bidirectional signaling pathways to communicate with our brain. When something’s off-kilter in either, the other makes it known.
Consequently, this relationship explains the knots in your stomach caused by a stressful situation. It even links depression and anxiety to imbalances in the microbiome. News flash: for better mental health, eat some yogurt!
Here’s why this is so important: yoga’s well-documented effects in reducing stress and anxiety are good for our gut microbiome via the Gut-Brain Axis, and practitioners are rewarded accordingly. In one study examining a yogic treatment against irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), patients experienced a significant improvement in symptoms related to their condition, a reduction in their state anxiety, and even enhanced parasympathetic reactivity (our brain’s mediator to physiological responses driven by fight-or-flight situations). Wow!
To this end, we’ve compiled a list of 13 yoga postures specifically prescribed for gut health and digestion. And oh yeah—it’s backed by science.
13 Best Yoga Poses for Digestion and Gut Health
- Ardhakati chakrasana (half-waist wheel pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Ardha chakrasana (half wheel pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Padahastasana (hands to feet pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Trikonasana (triangle pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Parivritta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Vrikshasana (tree pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Vakrasana (half spinal twist) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Pascimottanasana (seated forward bend pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Shalabhasana (locust pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Viparitakarani with wall support (legs up the wall pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
- Matsyasana (fish pose) - Watch Now on YouTube
The main takeaway: yoga is for everyone! Even for someone with limited flexibility or yoga experience, these stretches can help ease the discomfort caused by common digestive issues and support the gut microbiome. The benefits of yoga associated with stimulating digestion, easing stress, and cultivating a healthy gut are immense.
If something feels off, give the age-old practice a try to get back on track. And, if you’re curious about what else may be up, find out with Floré !