5 Best Yoga Stretches for A Happy Gut

5 Best Yoga Stretches for A Happy Gut

Because Yogis have always been aware of the connection between the gut and everything else (the 3rd and 6th Chakras), there are Yogic practices, such as asana, pranayama, and meditation which are geared towards optimal gut health. Below are 5 asana poses which support a healthy gut.

1)Big Toe Pose II (Padangustasana)

Benefits: This posture is geared towards regulating the kidney meridian. The kidneys are a vital organ for containing and filtering blood, and when regulated properly contribute to our overall energy levels.

Tips: This could be done standing on the floor or done in a supine position. If done in a supine position, place a blanket, bolster, or block beneath the lifted leg to support the lengthening of the inner leg from the inner arch of the foot, to the inner knee, to the inner groin. Your inhales and exhales should be sent towards the location of your kidneys in the lower back region just below the diaphragm.

2)  Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana A)

Benefits: Gravity likes to pull things down towards the center of the earth, our organs included. In Yoga, we seek to lift things up so that a lightness can be achieved leading to a sense of freedom and flow. Inversions, such as headstand, provide an anti-gravity effect to one’s organs and surrounding tissues providing physiological support and benefits for one’s visceral organs.

3) Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Benefits: Deep backbends help to lengthen the tissues and muscles which surround the gut. In order to do practices specifically geared towards the yoking of the gut (like uddiyana bandha or kapalabhati breathing), it is helpful to stretch the walls of the abdominal region which house the internal organs. When done properly, full wheel creates space in the torso for said organs to move around and slide along one another (this movement of the organs is known as motility).

4) Supine Twist

Benefits: Similar to backbends, twists can contribute to yoking the organs of the gut to achieve an optimal state of motility. Proper gut health also aids in efficient absorption and digestion of food and nutrients.

Tips: Just be aware when you are twisting to twist towards the right first followed by the left as this follows the direction of digestion through your intestines. The photo above is a twist towards the left. Always think about which way your belly is turning, not where your knees are going.

5) Child’s Pose

Benefits: Once the organs have space to move around, doing the opposite …compressing or squeezing the organs (in an intentional manner) and then letting it go has positive effects in allowing optimal circulation through the gut. It’s like a cleansing and purifying process through churning of the visceral organs.

Tips: Variations specifically geared towards compressing the viscera include knees together and/or placing your fists or rolled blanket into the front of the abdomen just below the naval. Deep breathing sent into the abdomen and lower back should accompany this practice.

Lindsay’s friendly reminder: Keep in mind, the poses above should be done consistently in practice, not just when you are experiencing gut distress. Actually, some may be very uncomfortable if done during a time you have GI discomfort thereby negating the ability for the pose to properly do its job. Another reminder, proper gut health isn’t only for those who experience gut distress, it really is for everyone on a regular basis.

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