Do you practice yoga regularly in your free time? Yoga has no doubt become a popular go-to activity for a healthy lifestyle, and there are so many different ways to enjoy a good practice — there’s studio yoga, beach yoga, sunrise yoga, and even yoga with dogs! While many are aware of its benefits on overall well-being and mental health, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that it does wonders for your digestive health too.
Having a healthy body comprises many components, but having a well-functioning digestive system is one of the most important parts. Through healthy digestion, your body receives all the fuel it needs to function, by turning nutrients from your food into energy. That’s what keeps vital organs and systems like the heart, brain and immune system functioning at their best.
There are many ways to take care of your digestive system, such as eating healthily, staying physically active, and giving your body ample rest. But yoga? You might be wondering — how on earth can it possibly aid in digestive health? Read on to find out.
Although yoga has traditionally been associated with developing mindfulness and improving flexibility and muscle strength, it does much more than that. More people are discovering that specific health issues can be targeted through regular yoga practice.
Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, focusing on bringing harmony between the mind and body and ultimately, harmony with the universe. To aid digestion, it involves postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana).
Here are some of the key poses practised in yoga aimed at improving digestion:
To do this pose, start by going on both your palms and knees. As you inhale, arch your back and look upwards, then exhale while rounding your back and dropping your gaze to the floor. Repeat this five to six times.
This pose should be done a few hours after eating, or on an empty stomach. It helps to tone your abdominal muscles, and in doing so, it massages your digestive organs and activates them, aiding in digestion. It’s a simple and straightforward pose that anyone can do — try it out at home today.
Start in a child’s pose, with your knees on the floor and your arms outstretched in front of you, your stomach pressed flat onto your thighs. Then tuck your toes and lift your hips all the way up until your body forms an inverted V shape. Push away from the floor as much as you can while maintaining the same shape firmly, elongating your spine.
You can choose to bend each knee one at a time to loosen your hips and legs, and stay in this pose for 3 to 5 breaths at a time.
As this pose compresses the abdominal area, it massages the abdomen, stimulating digestion and encouraging bowel movements.
To get into this pose, start from a standing position with your feet wide apart — left foot forwards and right food behind. Then turn your right foot at the back 90 degrees outwards, so your left heel is in line with the centre of the arch on your right foot.
Bend forwards from the waist, and turn your body to face the right, with your arms outstretched on both sides. Let your left hand rest on the floor, or if you’re feeling a little stiff, on your shins. You can also repeat the same steps on the other side.
This movement encourages abdomen stretches, and compresses your midsection to improve digestion and metabolism.
Start by lying down on the floor, arms by your side. Knees are bent and aligned with the ankles while keeping the feet hip width apart. Slowly inhale and lift your lower back, middle back, and upper back until your chin touches your chest. Your thighs should be parallel to each other and the floor, while tightening your butt to lift your back even further. If possible, interlace your fingers below your back to get into a deeper stretch.
This pose stimulates and stretches the abdominal muscles, massaging the organs to enhance digestion.
This is everyone’s favourite pose, because it usually signals the end of an intense yoga session — a welcome relief to many. It’s simply lying on the floor with your arms and legs on the sides and the rest of your body held in stillness. With all the compression and stretches throughout the practice, it allows you to slowly cool down, which refreshes and rejuvenates the whole body.
Aside from practising yoga regularly to aid digestion, there are also other things you can do — such as taking vitamins and supplements!
While supplementation shouldn’t replace a balanced diet, it can support the benefits of a well-rounded diet. Here are some supplement options you can consider to support digestive health:
Although it is not naturally produced by the body, Zinc is a mineral that can be found in a variety of foods. It’s used by the body for different functions such as protein synthesis, but it’s also known to support and maintain a healthy digestive system.
It does so by protecting the gut barrier from inflammation and other diseases, as well as encouraging the growth of more good gut flora. It also helps to prevent dietary nutrient deficiency.
Foods such as oysters, fish and other seafood, meats, beans, nuts, bread, and dairy products are great sources of zinc. How much zinc you need depends on your age, and your stage of life. This can also change depending on conditions such as pregnancy and if you’re on a plant-based diet.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that support healthy digestive system function and intestinal health. These types of bacteria are found in many fermented and pickled foods, as well as in specially formulated supplements. They help the digestive tract by interacting with natural bacteria to maintain good gut flora.
The presence of good digestive flora can be especially beneficial for those on antibiotics, as medication can throw off the delicate balance of gut bacteria. In this case, Probiotics SB may be more beneficial for you, as it promotes the regrowth of friendly intestinal flora and relieves any digestive discomfort brought on by medication.
Curcumin is a component of turmeric that gives it a yellowish colour. It’s been used throughout the ages in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as it is known to support digestive system health and functioning.
Curcumin can be added to your diet to support digestion. It comes in different forms such as teas, drinks, spices, or dyes to colour food. On its own, the best way to source it is through food and supplements, whether in capsule or in powder form.
Remember, digestive health is an essential part of your overall wellness. You can practice yoga to maintain and support good gut health, but you have to also do your part to eat healthy.
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*Always read the label and follow directions for use. If you experience any symptoms or if symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.