Constipation
28 Case Studies
21 Member Stories
27 Research

The most frequent reason for constipation, gas, and bloating has to do with our poor lifestyle choices. Poor eating habits, lack of exercise,  anxiety, and hectic schedules can manifest in your digestive tract as hard stools or infrequent bowel movements. Yoga can help alleviate the pain and distress of these digestive troubles.

What is yoga?

Hatha yoga comes from the Sanskrit term 'Ha' means 'prana,' 'tha' signifies 'mind.' Hatha yoga aims to bring about a state of harmony between the pranic & psychological forces through its practices. Hatha yoga is a style of yogic practice wherein the emphasis is on the practice of asanas (postures), pranayamas (specialized breathing techniques), Shatkarmas (cleansing techniques), Mudras (symbols) & Bandhas (seals or locks).

This method aims to bring about a condition of rejuvenation and detoxification of Annamaya & Pranamaya koshas.  This cleansing would enable us to get into more significant practices of dhyana (meditation) & samadhi (contemplation).

The higher practices, in turn, would enable us to reach the other planes, namely Manomaya & Vijnanamaya koshas, promoting harmony and contributing to the Anandamaya condition of being. Hatha yoga practice doesn't emphasize Yama & Nimayas, which would be practiced when the Hatha yogic practices are perfected.

Effects of Yoga: Yogic postures teach us to restrain our skeletal muscles, which operate our extremities & also help contain the muscles that form the support for the internal organ systems. All Yogic postures help to enhance the strength of our muscular system since most of these are isometric. Hatha yogic postures improve the co-ordination between nervous & musculoskeletal system Yoga asanas also help to concentrically shorten & eccentrically lengthen all of our muscular systems under gravitational force. This variation helps to maintain the health of our muscles.

As all Hatha yogic postures are slow, it helps to increase flexibility and lengthen the muscles by reducing the impact of the myotatic stretch reflex. Yoga postures also help us to trigger the clasp knife reflex by holding the hatha yoga postures for 30 minutes or longer, which then helps us to unwind the specific muscle and also increase its versatility.

In short, yoga asanas function as an essential tool to maintain our Annamaya kosha in a state of synchronization of all of the organ systems.

See: Yoga For Digestion & Gut Health

How does Yoga view constipation?

The benefits of yoga: When you think about yoga, you likely consider relaxing music and deep stretches. However, this historical art does a lot longer. From diminishing the risk of postpartum depression to reducing inflammation levels in people with heart failure, spending some time in your own yoga mat is beneficial, from your head to your feet.

And yes, that includes your gut and digestive health. The most frequent reason for constipation, gas, and other tummy issues has to do with our poor, fast-paced lifestyle. Poor eating choices, anxiety, and hectic schedules can manifest in your digestive tract as hard stools (in addition to loose stools) or infrequent bowel movements.

See: Home remedies for gas & bloating pain

How do Yoga asanas help constipation?

How can yoga asanas relieve constipation?

If you are looking for natural ways to help you poop, give yoga a try. The breathing, stretching, twisting, and exercises that are a part of yoga can help keep you have regular bowel movements. There are also specific yoga poses for constipation. 

The massaging and compression of some poses can stimulate blood circulation in your digestive organs such as the stomach and intestines. Yoga is one of the proven natural therapy to control constipation. If one is experiencing constipation, they might want to attempt and include yoga in their everyday practice together with dietary modification like raising water and fiber intake. 

Yoga can help alleviate the pain and distress of these digestive troubles. Yoga relieves constipation in two ways:

- Managing stress: First, it will help manage your anxiety response, which may significantly improve the operation of your digestion system. You may see that you're more likely to have backed up when you are stressed out. Simple deep breathing and meditation can help move things along.

- Digestive system massage: The next way yoga benefits your digestive tract is via twisting poses, inversions, and forwards folds. These poses massage your digestive organs, improve circulation and oxygen consumption, help the process of peristalsis, and promote stools to move throughout your system. Doing regular yoga can lead to consistent, wholesome bowel movements. Incredibly bloated people have bloated bellies, or just have a little more body fat around the center may discover spins extremely uncomfortable. It is not advisable to do an asana if it gets painful to do it. A little discomfort is okay, so long as it isn't painful. If you struggle with spins, you can consider seated twists.

There are many natural ways to relieve your constipation, and several yoga asanas described below will help. It is best to work with a yoga therapist to do asanas correctly for constipation, gas, or bloating

See: Ayurvedic remedies for constipation

Yoga poses for constipation relief

Yoga can help you relax and have regular bowel movements. Some specific yoga poses (asanas) are especially useful for constipation. 

- Cat-Cow asana: Unlike many yoga poses, which are all about holding the stretch, the cat-cow requires you to oscillate between positions 10 to 20 days, which is sure to push that poop button. With your hands and knees on the floor, create a table-top position with your body. Drop your stomach to the floor, while arching your back. Raise your chin and chest towards the ceiling, and expand your shoulder blades. This position is the cow asana. Then, curve your stomach in your spine and round your back to the ceiling.

- Supine Twist: This calming pose is a gentle asana for constipation. It has a twisting motion that can help expel waste, move meals, and increases blood flow to your gut. As you lay on your back, bring your legs into your chest. Extend your left leg outwards. Draw your bent right leg to the left across your body, while keeping your shoulders flat on the ground. Look toward the right. Hold, then switch sides.

- Matsyasana Twist: This cushioned twist protects your digestive organs and aids in detoxification. Begin in a seated posture. Bend your left leg and put your left foot on the floor over your right knee. Bend your right knee and then tuck your right foot close to your butt. Place your right elbow close to your left knee and twist your body, looking over your shoulder. Hold, then switch sides.

- Downward-Facing Dog Asana: This fundamental pose stimulates digestion by squeezing your gut, stimulating blood circulation in your abdominal organs, and relaxing the GI tract. Get comfortable on your hands and knees, while keeping the knees below your hips, hands below your shoulders, fingers pointing straight forward, and your palms pressing down. Then, while bending, tuck your feet and extend your arms and legs while pushing your pelvis in the air. This position will make an A-shape. Keep your hands in place, continue to press away from the floor.  Look between your legs, and tuck your belly towards your navel.

- Standing Forward Bend: Start with a stand up straight, then bend forward at the hips while keeping your knees bent slightly also. Lengthen your chest and bend your elbows, holding each elbow with the opposite hand. Press the balls of your feet to the ground and let your head hang down. Continue to lengthen your chest and push your feet down while bringing your belly in your spine.

- Child's Pose: This pose is another powerful non-twisting pose. Sit comfortably on the floor with the knees spread to a little more than hip-distance apart and your toes tucked beneath you, big toes touching. Lean forward and put your hands before you, creeping forward until your brow is touching the mat. Hold while breathing deeply.

- Squat Pose: The Yogi Squat uses precisely the identical concept as squatty potty - your GI tract would like it if you would squat. To get in the place, sit on the ground at a perfect angle with your legs drawn out straight.  Bend each leg, bringing your elbows into the back of your thighs and extend your knees towards the ceiling. Lean forward and gently increase your position into a squat. The colon has an outlet valve, in the kind of the puborectalis muscle in the rectum. In the sitting position, the anus is kept in the closed position. At the squatting position, the puborectalis muscle relaxes its grip on the anus to straighten the pathway into the anus.

- Wind Relieving Pose: This pose is famous for being so capable of stimulating the bowels that yogis named it after wind relieving actions. While lying on your back as you face the ceiling, bring one knee to your chest, along with your nose to your knee. Publish your head to the floor while pulling your knee into your chest and stomach. Switch legs doing the same thing on the opposite side, before doing it with both legs at the same time. Bending both knees, press both legs in your stomach, so you seem like a flatulent ball.

- Chair Pose: Standing straight up as you raise both arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Maintain extension of your arms as you bend your knees with your back straight and thighs parallel to the ground. Then, bring your palms together in prayer and twist.

- Crescent Lunge Twist: Start in a lunge position with your bent knee in 90-degrees and the feet of your straight leg facing straight forward. Put your hands into prayer, rotate your torso towards your bent leg, hitting the contrary elbow and twist, while keeping your hips straight. Repeat on each side.

Another reason why yoga is useful for constipation is that it is a healthy way to handle stress. So simple moves such as Corpse Pose in which you simply lay flat on your back with your eyes closed can also be tremendously valuable.



See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

Summary

Regardless of what poses your attempt, do not forget to calm your thoughts and breathe deeply. A calm mind is critical in repairing your digestive problems.  Even though these asanas can help, other yoga poses help with digestive troubles. Any twisting motion can increase peristalsis or the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine. Ayurvedic herbs and massage can be of great help as well.

See: Ayurvedic Massage

References

1. Symptoms & causes of constipation. (2018). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/symptoms-causes

2. Tamura, A., et al. (2016). Prevalence and self-recognition of chronic constipation: Results of an internet survey. http://www.jnmjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5056/jnm15187

3. Buttner MM. (2013). Efficacy of yoga for depression postpartum women: A randomized controlled trial.ir.uiowa.edu/etd/4825/

4. Demers, C. (n.d.). Ayurvedic tips for constipation. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/ayurvedic-tips-for-constipation

5. Kavuri, V., et al. (2015). Irritable bowel syndrome: Yoga as remedial therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438173/

6. Pullen PR et al. (2008). Effects of yoga on inflammation & exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure. DOI:doi.org/10.1016/j.cardfail.2007.12.007

7. Concerned about constipation? (2013). https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/concerned-about-constipation

8. Top 6 yoga poses to ease constipation. (n.d.). https://www.rishikulyogshala.org/top-6-yoga-poses-to-ease-constipation/

See: Magnesium for constipation relief

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