Yoga has an entire alphabet of benefits. Not only does it help you build strength and flexibility, but it also helps aid digestion and metabolism, support healthy elimination, and boost internal organ health.
Below are 4 yoga steps for better digestion.
1. Cat and Cow
Begin on all fours, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and hips above your knees. Inhale, drop your belly, reach your heart forward, and tilt your tailbone up to come into cow pose. Exhale, pull the navel in, round the mid-upper back, and gaze in between your thighs. Repeat this flow for a few cycles of breaths.
Cat and cow helps link your breath with your movement, lubricate the vertebrae of your spine, as well as massage your internal organs.
2. Easy Twist
From all fours or downward facing dog, step your right foot forward in between your hands. Relax the left thigh down. Walk your right foot over to the right side of your mat, and place your hands next to your right ankle. Press the left hand down, then exhale to lift the right arm up.
Pull the navel in, as your revolve your ribcage up to the ceiling. Push your right shoulder away from the ears. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths, then repeat on the left side.
Apart from neutralizing the spine and toning your abdominal muscles, twists also help stimulate your internal organs, support peristalsis across your intestines, and reduce bloating.
3. Wide Legged Forward Fold
Stand on your mat, with your feet wider than your hips. Keep your feet parallel to the long edge of your mat. Take your hands on your hips, lengthen your spine, hinge at the hips, and fold forward. Put your palms on the ground or on yoga blocks. Gaze in between your knees.
Keep pressing down through the balls of your feet, as you engage the backs of your legs and your glutes. Feel the lengthening happening in your lower back. Hug the ribcage in. Inhale and come to a halfway lift to lengthen your spine just a bit more, and then exhale to fold even deeper.
To exit out of the pose, take your hands on your hips. Push down through the feet, hug the belly in, and come all the way up.
Prasarita padottanasana in particular compresses the liver, kidneys, and spleen, and improves their overall function.
Lie down on your mat, with your legs and arms extended back behind you. Press your hip bones down to the mat. Squeeze your glutes. Inhale, lift the chest and the shoulders up. Keep your neck long as you actively reach the fingertips back. You can also float the shins and the toes up. Hold for a breath, then exhale to lower yourself back to the mat.
Backbends in general help stretch the abdominal muscles and create space across the diaphragm. It also helps stimulate stagnant, slow-moving areas in the gut, thereby promoting healthy, regular elimination.
5. Child’s Pose
End this sequence and counter the previous poses with a classic child’s pose. Much like your wide legged forward fold, it helps compress your internal organs and intestines.
Lower your hips down to your heels and rest your belly onto your thighs. You can also widen your knees out to the sides your mat, and relax your belly in between your thighs. Extend your arms forward, and soften your forehead onto the ground. Stay here for a few breaths, before putting your practice to a close.