I don’t know about you, but during the holiday season, I tend to overindulge with all the lovely treats and of course Christmas dinner! With that in mind, I figured it would be good to have a yoga sequence to help you and your tummy. This short sequence will help keep your digestive system alive and kicking…
Yoga is great for digestion
Yoga is great for digestion. Why? Yoga stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the stimulation of “rest and digest”. When we stimulate our body to relax, this part of the nervous system is activated, diverting blood flow to our digestive organs, stimulating the production of digestive juices and enzymes and encouraging bowel movements.
At this time of year, having a focus on helping our digestion is of particular importance.
Below is a short yoga sequence to help you out along with some extra information on each yoga pose.
Yoga poses for digestion
1. Hero’s Pose / Virasana
The all-rounder – a great pose that you can do before, during and after your meal. You can even sit like this at a table.
In addition to being a great stretch on the ankles, knees and thighs, Virasana is also good for relieving bloating and improving digestion. As we kneel in this pose we stimulate the lower part of the stomach meridian in the legs. This helps our digestion and elimination and also helps create space in our abdomen as we sit.
- You can place a pillow under your bum or roll up a towel under your ankles to make it more comfortable.
- Attention to the breath, feel it in the belly.
2. Squat / Malasana
A deep squat increases the blood flow to your kidneys and intestines and creates space in the lower back area and stretches and relaxes the pelvic floor. All this combined helps to stimulate our digestive flow.
- Keep your heels on the floor (or place a rolled up blanket/mat under your heels so they are supported).
- Separating your thighs, pressing your elbows against your inner knees and bring your palms together.
- Try it with a support under your buttocks
- Free up your breath, letting the belly go, breathing into your belly, feeling it press into your thighs.
3. Squat Twist
he previous pose, but adding a twist. This stimulates fresh blood to rush through the digestive organs when you come out of the twist.
- Extend your left arm out to the side, keep it on the inside of the leg.
- Hand on the floor, take your right arm up and take a few breaths.
- Do the same on the other side
4. Seated Forward Bend / Paschimottanasana
This simple stretch relaxes you and helps stimulate your digestive organs. Paschimottanasana opens the backside of the body, similar to the squat.
- Starting in Staff pose / Dandasana, reach your fingers towards the sky to create length.
- Hinging from the hips, keeping your torso long, lean forward.
- Hold on to your feet or higher up the legs, if you can’t reach your toes.
- Take a few breaths.
5. Half Lord of Fish Pose / Ardha Matsyendrasana
This yoga pose stimulates digestion and metabolism. Half Lord of the Fish pose also stimulates the kidneys and the liver and energizes the body. Calming the nervous system – stimulating the “rest and digest” response in our bodies. It is a great “Agni” stimulating pose. When our agni is strong, we are able to digest food efficiently and more easily assimilate our daily experience.
- From Staff pose, bend your right leg and place the foot on the outside of the left leg.
- Lengthen the spine before you twist to the right, hugging the right knee with your left arm, placing the right hand behind you to encourage length in the spine.
- Take a few breaths and do the other side.
6. Supine Twist / Jathara Parivartanasana
This pose is another great pose for stimulating agni, our digestive fire. The combination of the twist with the leg lift energizes and strengthens the abdominal area, stimulating the nervous system and nourishing the digestive organs with fresh blood flow.
- From lying on your back, extend your arms out to the side and draw your knees into your chest.
- Take your legs down to the left side and relax them down there.
- Hold for a few breaths and do the other side.
- You can also do this pose dynamic, keep the knees moving from one side to the other.
7. Legs up the Wall / Viparita Karani
A great pose before Savasana. This restorative inverted pose effortlessly allows the blood to flow back to the heart, making it a very popular therapeutic pose. It’s called the great rejuvenator for a reason.
- Sit cross-legged with your right side against the wall, roll back and turn so your legs end up against the wall.
- Place a pillow/bolster/folded blanket under your low back to make it more of an inverted pose. Without support is also fine.
- Stay anywhere between 3-10 minutes.
General info on yoga for digestion
- In general, it’s a good idea to leave at least an hour or two between a big meal and yoga and wait at least 15-20 mins between doing yoga and your next meal.
- Twists energise the spine, and stimulate the liver and kidneys which are important for digestion.
- Inversions stimulate the abdominal muscles and glands (thyroid, pituitary) and they all contribute to keeping your digestive system working effectively.
- Forward bends stimulate our liver and kidneys, helping to eliminate toxins that impede digestion, and calms the mind.