Changing your diet and introducing gut-friendly foods into your routine is one of our favorite ways to improve your digestion, but you can merge your yoga practice with your belly health, one move at a time.
These favorite yoga moves are classics in your flow, but they could have an extra added benefit of helping you heal your gut and get it moving even more efficiently.
Get started on improving your digestive system with these five moves:
1. Cat-cow pose (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)
Why it works: This move, which is often one of the first few during a vinyasa practice, is a great and natural way to give your internal organs, especially your digestive system, a little massage. Because it features movement of your spine, the back and forth motion also gives your back a relief at the same time as you help move your digestion.
How to do it: Start on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips and your elbows below your shoulders. Slowly, drop your belly down, arching your back (similar to a cow). Then, roll your spine back up towards the ceiling, as if you have a string pulling up from the middle of your back (like a cat). Repeat.
2. Child’s pose (Balasana)
Why it works: Give some love to your intestinal tract with this simple relaxing move. Though child’s pose is often known as “home base” during a flow, and a safe pose to take when you might need a break or want to pause your “go, go, go” day for a calm time out.
How to do it: Because you bring your knees into your chest, your hips are opened, your lower back is relieved of pain, and your digestive tract gets its own little massage that’ll help you move it along.
3. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Why it works: Open up your abdominal area with this pose. Because your head is below your heart, you’ll also get added blood flow to your head, and your digestive organs, and with enough practice, it can actually become a very relaxing and restorative pose.
How to do it: Lying on the ground with your knees bent and your feet resting below your knees (pro tip: extend your arms alongside your chest, and your fingertips may graze the backs of your ankles). Slowly, pushing up through your shoulders and the soles of your feet, push your hips upwards to the sky in a mini backbend that you’ll feel all through your upper half.
4. Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)
Why it works: You see it in practically any flow, but the reason why downward-facing dog is such a great go-to is that it’s an all-over improvement pose, and great for digestive improvement. Because you tuck in your navel, you get the benefit of compressing your organs, helping them work harder at digesting.
How to do it: Start on all fours, as you did with cat-cow pose, and slowly extend your arms and elbows, pressing into your palms. Tuck your toes and push your hips toward the sky, bringing your body into a triangle shape, while pedaling out your feet. That as much time as you need to settle into this pose, keeping your core tight throughout.
5. Extended triangle pose (Trikonasana)
Why it works: This classic body twist helps to, you guessed it, twist your organs and activate their movements.
How to do it: Begin in mountain pose at the top of your mat. With control, step your feet about four feet apart, turning your left foot, Slowly, hinge from your waist, bringing your torso down your right leg. Then, bring your right palm to the ground (or a block if you need a little assistance, raising your left hand to the sky.