Our ancestors have been practicing yoga, Tai chi, and many other forms of energy movement to treat digestive issues for centuries. Doing yoga allows you to move around gut bacteria. Yoga poses for stomach issues can be targeted at working through different forms of gastrointestinal distress. Let’s take a look at the connection between the microbiome and yoga.
- 1 How Exercise Can Influence Intestinal Flora
- 2 How Yoga May Manipulate Gut Biome
- 3 How Yoga Poses for Stomach Issues Works
- 4 Best Yoga Poses for Stomach Issues
- 4.1 Downward Facing Dog for Acid Reflux
- 4.2 Standing Forward Fold for Gas in Stomach
- 4.3 Extended Child’s Pose for Feeling Constipated
- 4.4 Cobra for Bloating
- 4.5 Forearm Plank for Weight Loss
- 4.6 Half Lord of the Fishes for Detox
- 4.7 Extended Triangle Pose for Sour Stomach
- 4.8 Supported Head Stand for Strength
- 5 Resources
How Exercise Can Influence Intestinal Flora
We all know that exercise is pivotal to gut health. However, it does more than trim up that dad bod or get that summer bod into bikini shape.
When we move around our joints and muscles, it also disturbs the cells and bacteria around them. This disruption causes them to interact with one another. In turn, chemical reactions happen, causing creating diversity in the microbiome .
The study concluded,
“These findings suggest that exercise training induces compositional and functional changes in the human gut microbiota that are dependent on obesity status, independent of diet and contingent on the sustainment of exercise.”– Med Sci Sports Exerc.
What these findings suggest is that it doesn’t matter how large your frame is or how much food you eat. Any movement can alter your gut bacteria. That is why we crafted a list of yoga poses for stomach issues for all levels of practices.
How Yoga May Manipulate Gut Biome
Now, those findings were about exercise. That could mean anything from running down the street to doing jumping jacks in your backyard to doing yoga with a YouTube video. Here is how yoga may influence your stomach bacteria.
Yoga and Stress
Yoga is beneficial for gut biome in many ways. For one, it’s a relaxant. Like any other exercise, yoga takes your mind off everything else you have to do. You are focusing on the task at hand rather than stressing life (aka creating cortisol).
A study was conducted on the effects of yoga on stress and physiological health on 90 stressed employees . These employees were split up in programs where some did yoga for 16 weeks. Others did no yoga for the first eight weeks and practiced yoga for the last eight.
“Significant reductions in stress and all psychological health measures were found within the Yoga group over 16 weeks. When compared to the control group, yoga practitioners showed significant decreases in stress, anxiety, and general psychological health, and significant increases in well-being. The group who did not practice yoga showed significant decreases in stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia after they crossed over and practiced yoga for 8 weeks.”– Anxiety Stress Coping
Now, you must be wondering to yourself, why are we talking about stress when I have digestive issues? That’s because there is a strong correlation between stress and gastrointestinal distress. See, can’t spell either without stress.
STRESS AND GASTROINTESTINAL DISTRESS
We knew stress was bad, but it’s really bad. So much so, that studies suggest chronic stress may severely alter your intestinal flora. One analysis reasoned that stress was responsible on a physiological level for :
- Alterations in Gastrointestinal Motility
- Increase in Visceral Perception
- Changes in Gastrointestinal Secretion
- Increase in Intestinal Permeability
- Negative Effects on Regenerative Capacity of Gastrointestinal Mucosa and Mucosal Blood Flow
- Negative Effects on Intestinal Microbiota
That’s a lot of influence…and that’s stress in a nutshell. Luckily, yoga can help you kick stress to the curb so you can start to rebuild gut flora.
How Yoga Poses for Stomach Issues Works
Sure, you can do exercise and fix some of your issues. However, going for a run with acid reflux? That doesn’t sound ideal. How about weight squats while you are feeling constipated? Yeah, a bit intense.
Like pumping iron or getting into a groove while you run, yoga marries move to breath. Whereas you get a runner’s high or see instant results with weightlifting, the benefits of yoga aren’t as noticeable.
You don’t rush into yoga poses for stomach issues. Instead, you ease into them. Practicing yoga allows you to channel within. As you hold a posture, you find what feels good and then focus your energy into it. From there, start deep-breathing.
As you breathe into your posture, focus on where the gastrointestinal distress is situated. Try to breathe into that area slowly. Like an ice pick chiseling away at ice sculpture, peck away at the stomach problems until the discomfort subsides.
Diaphragmatic Breathing and IBS
There has been a little bit of research popping up about the potential benefits of diaphragmatic breathing and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As you develop your yoga practice, you naturally become a diaphragmatic breather. Therefore, doing yoga with IBS may help with gastrointestinal distress associated with the condition.
The diaphragm muscle is entwined with the vagus nerve. This is an influential member of the gut biome as its responsible for many of the gastrointestinal symptoms we feel.
Scientific hypotheses believe that deep-breathing can help relax the diaphragm and it’s neighbor, the vagus nerve. As a result, symptoms of IBS would be less intense.
The conclusion of a study looking into this hypothesis stated ,
“Currently, there is no data on the pre-IBS functional status of the diaphragm muscle of these patients, as well as on their vagal and sympathetic functions. At the same time, there are no data on the potential impact of therapeutic approaches for IBS including diaphragmatic training; in the current context, we cannot quantify the influence of breathing on IBS and related pathologies.”–Cureus
While that may sound disheartening, the study pointed out that many people who suffer symptoms of IBS also have irregularities in their diaphragm.
The meta-analysis pointed to other scientific studies where diaphragmatic irregularities occurred such as:
- Low Back Pain
- Chronic Pelvic Pain
- Chronic Headache
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
- Vagus Nerve Inflammation
- Depression and Anxiety
So, while there is no concrete data that yoga poses for stomach issues such as IBS will solve your gastrointestinal problems, it might help some of the symptoms.
Best Yoga Poses for Stomach Issues
What’s great about yoga is that you can practice anywhere. Just get on the floor and start stretching! Just make sure you consult a physician about any physical changes to your routine like yoga.
Downward Facing Dog for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. While the name implies your body is too acidic, it’s actually the opposite. Your low acidic levels aren’t allowing your body to break down the proteins you consume. As a result, they sit in your GI tract, instead of making their way to the small intestines. This causes the burning sensation that crawls up your esophagus.
Downward dog is a great beginner yoga pose for stomach issues because it requires little to no effort. Try to engage your sour stomach and tuck in your lower ribcage. Envision a dome around your belly button area. Breathe into there.
Focusing on where your breath goes will cause your intestinal flora to stir the pot. As a result, the proteins causing acid reflux to break down more efficiently.
Standing Forward Fold for Gas in Stomach
Standing Forward Fold is a fun way to let go of stress. Just let your head and arms dangle. As tempting as flopping over may be, try to give yourself some integrity.
Think of your belly button as this massively heavy item pushing back toward your spine. From there try to suck the inner energy upward toward your heart.
Naturally, your head will lift. Let it happen and then organically, you will stretch further down. This extension is perfect for clearing gas in stomach. You might just want to be alone.
Extended Child’s Pose for Feeling Constipated
Need help breaking up some of the solids inside your system? Get into Extended Child’s Pose.
Bring your knees as wide as the mat and your big toes to touch, if possible. Like a panther on the runway, slowly crawl ahead. You will feel a great stretch in your abdomen region. This stretching can cause some of the blockage to break up, easing the constipation.
Cobra for Bloating
When you are experiencing bloating, you just want something to pop the bubble. Cobra can pop it for you.
From the Extended’s Child Pose, push up and through the to the belly in one big inhale. Continue up and push your chest through to the sky.
To get the most out of the pose and to avoid wrist damage, make sure your hand is directly underneath your shoulder. While in position, push up from the floor and down with your feet. You should notice a huge stretch from groin to the throat. That should help stretch out the gas in stomach causing bloating.
Forearm Plank for Weight Loss
Forearm plank is one of the best yoga for stomach issues such as weight loss. It’s a low impact, high-intensity burn.
When you enter the position of Forearm Plank make sure your elbows and wrists, and hips and heels are all in line. That way your spine is aligned.
As you shake on your forearms, trying sucking everything into the mid-line. Also, be sure to engage your core. The more you perfect your move, the more weight you will burn. If you just lay there stagnant, you won’t see as many benefits.
If the Forearm Plan is too intense, try a regular Plank. Just push back up. Don’t worry, you’ll catch yourself before your face hits the floor! Lastly, if Plank is still too intense, continue to push up to Downward Dog. You’ll still get plenty of yoga poses for stomach issues in!
Half Lord of the Fishes for Detox
This is another one of the more advanced yoga poses for stomach issues. It’s a Half Pigeon meets a twist. By using your body to grind the insides in opposite directions, you’re doing more than just fighting gastrointestinal distress and mixing up your microbes.
With the Half Lord of Fishes, you are also wringing out your liver. This ideal if you are suffering stomach problems from binge drinking or metal toxicity.
For those who can’t get into such a complex move, take a more relaxed approach like a simple twist. Sit straight and put one leg up. Reach up with the opposite hand and hook that elbow around the outside of the standing leg. Take your free hand and reach behind you. Look over that shoulder and breathe into your twist.
Extended Triangle Pose for Sour Stomach
Speaking of stretching the insides out. This pose is a great way to get energy flowing up the side body. Starting from the outside and then working toward building strength inward, you get a rush of energy built up that helps bring oxygen to your sour stomach.
This is an advanced pose. For those who are beginners, try first with Extended’s Child Pose to warm up this area. Then work your way toward a seated twist before trying this yoga pose for stomach issues.
Supported Head Stand for Strength
Why not end with not just one of the best yoga poses for stomach issues, but for mental clarity, strength, and well-being. We live such sedentary lives. Sometimes we need to turn upside down to fix our problems.
The move above is for advanced yogis, but it’s something to strive towards. As you wrap your limbs around yourself, it wrings more body parts out, causing more detoxifying benefits.
Can’t get upside down? Don’t get frustrated. Find a way to make it work for you. Start your Supported Headstand Practice with a wall. It’s called supported after all! If that’s still too much, try laying flat on your back and placing your legs on the wall. Anything to get the energy flowing opposite than the usual!
 Allen, Jacob M, et al. “Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29166320.
 Maddux, Rachel E, et al. “The Effects of Yoga on Stress and Psychological Health among Employees: an 8- and 16-Week Intervention Study.” Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29166771.
 Konturek, Peter C, et al. “Stress and the Gut: Pathophysiology, Clinical Consequences, Diagnostic Approach and Treatment Options.” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology : an Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314561.
 Bordoni, Bruno, and Bruno Morabito. “Symptomatology Correlations Between the Diaphragm and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Cureus, Cureus, 23 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC615309