Yoga For Digestion & Gut Health
Common stomach & digestion problems include constipation, stomach pain, gas, acid reflux, and acidity. Not only can it leave you feeling not the best, but it's also a sign your body isn't functioning as it should, causing a build-up of toxins, a growth of harmful bacteria (dysbiosis), and possible dysfunction of organs. Yoga can help with your digestion.
Yoga for digestive health
The practice of meditation and yoga can be traced back hundreds of centuries ago. The history of Yoga in India dates back to even more than 5,000 years ago. In traditional medicine, the benefits of Yoga are numerous. In ancient medicine, Yoga is linked to activating the body's '7 chakras', which are known as the body's internal core energy. Predominantly, Yoga was used to stretch the human body and increase the core strength. Later on, many other health benefits of Yoga were discovered. Nowadays, Yoga is being mainly used for weight management, digestion, and strengthening the internal core. As the world has moved into the 21st century, health has become a very important part of our lives. As there is so much focus on health nowadays, Yoga has attained great significance. Yoga provides not only various health benefits but also is good for immunity, improves concentration, and helps calm the mind and body.
Yoga for digestion & gut health
Yoga for digestion
Yoga involves exercising by involving various postures that create pressure in the body. Due to this intense activity in the body, it results in multiple movements that are created within the muscles and internal organs of the body. Various organs within the body, like the digestive tract, begins to function more rigorously. Increasing the movement in the gastrointestinal tract results in an increase in oxygen and nutrients to the organs through increased blood flow. As a result, there is the creation of new cells and effective repair of the existing cells.
Suryanamaskar, Hastpadasan, Bhujangasan are proved to be the best yoga forms for improving the digestive system. In a study, the positive effects of Suryanamaskar were tested for four weeks. After the survey, it was found that there was a 70% increase in the Digestive, Respiratory, and Circulatory functions of the subjects. There was improve in blood circulation, appetite, digestion of food, breathing, asthma, sleep, and overall performance in the subjects. 
How does yoga help digestion?
Yoga & Vagus Nerve
To understand the effects of Yoga on the body, we need to first understand the vagus nerve. This vagus nerve plays a crucial role in our bodies. It is one of the twelve cranial nerves which starts from the brainstem and travels through the entire spinal cord. It is responsible for the regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls major internal organs of the body, which are the lungs, digestive system, liver, bladder, etc.
The symptoms of poor regulation or low vagal tone are:
⮚ Stress and anxiety
⮚ Digestive upset
⮚ Blood sugar dysregulation
⮚ Inflammatory conditions
Regular Yoga practices help in the movement of the muscles and internal organs, which improve the blood flow within the body. These exercises help in strengthening the core and increasing internal energy, which helps in enhancing the vagal tone. As a result, the digestive system, circulatory system, cardiovascular system, and other essential systems are improved. [2,3]
See: Yoga for GERD
Yoga asanas for digestion
Yoga poses for digestion
There are various poses or yoga asanas for the improvement of digestion. These exercises result in the natural cleansing of the digestive system without the use of any chemicals or medications. Yoga involves the use of natural forms or exercises which activate the muscles present in the gastrointestinal tract naturally and results in improving the mobility of the gastrointestinal tract resulting in a healthier digestive system. Suryanamaskar is an important prime posture in Yoga for the improvement of the digestive system.
In a study, various poses of Yoga were tested and their significance in improving the digestive system. Some of the poses which should be included in day to day life along with their duration for healthier gut can be found in the table as follows:
Yoga practices and their Duration are listed below:
- Shavasana (corpse pose): 2 min
- Ardhahalasana (half plow pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Makarkridasana (1-2) (crocodile pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Niralambasana (neck stretching pose):30 sec to 1 min
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Ardha shalabhasana (half locust pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Ardha vakrasana (half twisted pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Parvatasana (mountain pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Marjariasana (cat pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Tadasana (palm-tree pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Lateral chakrasana (wheel pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Kati chakrasana (spinal twist pose): 30 sec to 1 min
- Bramhamudra (neck rotation): 3 rounds
- Anulom vilom pranayama (alternate nostril breathing): 1:2, 11 rounds
- Omkar: 3 rounds
- Gayatri mantra: 3 rounds
- Bhramari pranayama (humming bee breath) 10 rounds
- Shavasana (corpse pose) 15-25 min
The study concluded that regular incorporation of Yoga into the daily routine had great results. The subjects achieved a better psycho-physiological state. Subjects who had disorders like breathing problems, deprived sleep, metabolic syndrome, digestive disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis all showed improvement in their conditions. Suryanamaskar and Kapalbhati poses were very efficient in improving the breathing and digestion in the patients. [4,5,6,7,8]
Yoga was also useful in alleviating the symptoms of patients who were suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Yoga postures help the body to control its gastrointestinal peristaltic contractions better. The gastrointestinal muscles are better relaxed and prevent the involuntary action of the muscles in the case of GERD. [9,10]
Numerous studies clearly point out that the health benefits of Yoga are countless. It is evident that Yoga does not only benefit the digestive system of the body but also helps in revitalizing the whole body. It boosts the immunity of the body. Yoga also helps people who generally suffer from joint aches. Yoga helps in strengthening the core of the body by channelizing the internal energy in the body. It builds elasticity, endurance, power, concentration, and balance in an individual. It reduces stress and anxiety and helps people in getting better sleep. People who complain of getting tired very easily, Yoga is the best solution for them. Yoga postures result in the generation of internal energy, which keeps an individual energized throughout the day. Yoga helps an individual to connect his mind and body with its soul.
1. OUR HERITAGE (UGC Care Journal) ISSN: 0474-9030 Vol-68, Special Issue-14
2. Forsythe P., Bienenstock J., Kunze W. "Vagal pathways for microbiome-brain-gut axis communication." Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014; 817: 115-133. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/24997031
3. Howland R. “Vagus Nerve Stimulation”. Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2015; 1(2): 64-73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017164/
4. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of Yoga and its ability to increase the quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011;4:49–54
5. Joshi S, Deole YS, Vyas GH, Dash SC. Management of overweight & obesity through specific yogic procedures. AYU. 2009;30:425–35
6. Moonaz SH, Bingham CO, Wissow L, Bartlett SJ. Yoga in sedentary adults with arthritis: Effects of a randomized controlled pragmatic trial. J Rheumatol. 2015;42:1194–202
7. Garg S, Ramya CS, Shankar V, Kutty K. Efficacy of short-term yoga therapy program on quality of life in patients with psychosomatic ailments. Indian J Psychiatry. 2015;57:78–80
8. Telles S, Dash M, Naveen KV. Effect of Yoga on musculoskeletal discomfort and motor functions in professional computer users. Work. 2009;33:297–306
9. Bhandari RB, Bhandari CB, Acharya B, Pandya P, Singh K, Katiyar VK, et al. Implications of corporate Yoga: A review. Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice. Chap. 28. 2012:653–4
10. Cotton S, Humenay Roberts Y, Tsevat J, Britto MT, Succop P, McGrady ME, et al. Mind-body complementary alternative medicine use & quality of life in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2010;16:501–6