Surprising Ways Yoga Maintains (And Improves) Your Gut Health

In recent decades, we’ve learned just how good yoga can be for us all. While you may be familiar with some of the more commonly touted benefits, you may be unaware of the connection between yoga and digestive health.

If you or someone you love is struggling with digestive health, you may want to consider using yoga to help promote healthy digestion and elimination.

Read on to learn more about yoga for digestion and how you can use this ancient practice to benefit your gut!

Yoga for Digestion

Many yoga poses have added benefits for gut health. Easiest among them are twists. Twists can be practiced in sitting or standing positions, as well as side angle poses.

If you’re already familiar with the yogic practice, you may already know that it is essential to practice these poses slowly. In doing poses like twists, you’ll want to hold each pose and take multiple deep breaths. Doing so will help your body to gain the full benefits of each pose.

When practicing these poses, hold each pose for a minimum of 8 full breaths. Breathing styles popular in yoga can also have benefits for your gut. Proper respiration techniques can help stimulate blood flow to the body, raising both your immunity and gut health. 

Stress Hormones Wreak Havoc on Your Gut

Yoga can aid your body in returning to a calm state. This is beneficial because a stressed body can wreak havoc on your internal organs. When stressed, your body releases hormones that shut down ideal body function.

The hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol, send your body into fight or flight mode when triggered. Unfortunately, the body has little ability to decipher which stressors pose a legitimate threat and which stressors are merely an inconvenience.

This means that your body is often releasing these stress hormones into your body any time you open a high priority work email or have an argument with your significant other. 

By using yoga to help you calm the stressors in your life, you’ll give your body a better opportunity to return to its natural state. When in this ideal state, your body will return to prioritizing restorative function within the body.

Looking for a yoga practice specifically designed to quell the stress in your life? Look for restorative practices like Yoga Nidra.

Yoga as a Lifestyle

Hitting a yoga class then heading straight to a burger chain isn’t a prescription for a happy gut. In fact, many of the additives in fast food can work against the progress you’ve made.

Consider changing your eating patterns to help suit your new yoga lifestyle. Many vegan and vegetarian foods are rich in dietary fiber. And fiber helps to keep your gut clean and healthy.

When selecting vegan or vegetarian foods, look for dark leafy greens. There are many vegan options that are marketed for convenience (chicken substitutes, we’re looking at you), but you’ll want to opt for less processed food if you want to promote gut health.

Making food in advance can be key to staying on track. Instead of reaching for foods that your body finds harmful, plan and cook your meals ahead of time. You’ll be less likely to reach for a guilty pleasure and more likely to make smart choices that keep your gut happy!

Yoga Friendly Massage

Looking for a quick fix? Try stomach massage. 

Consider massaging your gut after yoga using an all-natural massage oil. Examples of this may include using coconut oil, almond oil, or even olive oil if you’re in a crunch!

If using coconut oil, you’ll want to ensure that the oil is at the correct temperature to liquefy. You may want to consider warming the oil by submerging a jar of oil in warm water, or by warming it between your hands before application. This can create a soothing effect, perfect for calming an unhappy gut.

Using a small amount of oil, massage your gut area using circular motions. Begin at the belly button with small clockwise circles. Working outward, begin to take your circles wider, working outwards. 

This practice, known as Abhyanga, isa great soothing yogic practice designed to help your gut get back on track.

Yoga at Home: What to Consider

Yoga is incredibly popular because it can be practiced anywhere. Yoga also requires little equipment beyond a yoga mat, strap, or block.

Because of this, it can be tempting to try to practice yoga alone or without professional instruction. This can present two issues that undermine your yoga practice.

Risk of Injury

If you aren’t holding poses with the proper alignment, you run the risk of injury. If you are attempting a new pose, save it for yoga class.

Experienced instructors can help you achieve the correct body alignment for the pose. If this is not possible, an expert instructor can help you modify the pose for your own level of mastery.

Staying on Track

Yoga isn’t something you can do just once and realize the full benefits. In order to gain the full results of a beneficial yoga practice, you’ll need to invest the proper amount of time. While doing yoga at home can help you clock more hours, many aspiring yogis find that the level of commitment they feel at home is weak in comparison to a dedicated yoga class.

If you must practice at home, consider shutting off all of your electronic devices and clearing out unnecessary distractions. If you don’t have the luxury of attending a high-quality class, pace yourself.

Don’t force yourself through any poses that don’t feel comfortable or rush through the poses. Your practice deserves your undivided attention. 

Find a Class

If you’re ready to explore the benefits of yoga for digestion, consider finding a yoga studio prepared to help you on your journey. Our expert instructors are here to help you derive the most you can from each class.

Explore our website for class schedules and more. We’re here to help you on your journey toward internal health!