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Bloated? Here Are 10 Yoga Poses To Help Digestion

Yoganna love these.

21/12/2016 5:27 AM AEDT | Updated 21/12/2016 8:48 AM AEDT
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Adorable dog optional, but highly recommended.

Whether you've eaten the wrong thing, eaten too much (worth it) or are feeling stressed, we all experience digestive problems during our lives.

While the popular cure is to unbutton the jeans and have a nap, there's another more effective treatment worth trying -- yoga.

"Yoga can aid digestion, elimination (constipation) and bloating by increasing the circulation and energy to these areas," nutritionist and yoga teacher Fiona Tuck told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Yoga works on a physical level by stimulating the internal organs via various asanas (positions). It also helps to soothe the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress levels and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us rest and digest.

"Yoga also works on a deeper energetic level, stimulating the energy systems or meridians of the body. By choosing asanas that stimulate the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and liver meridians we can create harmony and balance within the body by aiding digestion and bloating."

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You can do yoga anywhere, anytime.

Active Yogi Kate Kendall, agrees, saying the key to aiding digestion through yoga is twist poses and consistency.

"I definitely think yoga aids digestion. As a practitioner of yoga, it's been the one thing, alongside a much healthier diet, that has kept my digestive system on track," Kendall told HuffPost Australia.

"And as a teacher, I've seen first-hand students openly claim to have problems with digestion, until a month of consistent practice see things totally turn around.

"Twists and forward bends, coupled with conscious breath work and an emphasis on drawing the navel to spine at the end of an exhalation, are notoriously excellent for digestion. Both groups of postures are like giving your internal organs a massage which is ideal for detoxification and helping things 'move along'."

Yoga can also help one of the main reasons for digestive issues in the first place: stress.

"Bloating can be caused by many things, one of which is stress. There's no one thing about yoga that relieves stress, rather a range. One, however, is that the deep breathing releases tension in the abdomen, a place where many of us hold onto tension. This tension can cause all kinds of issues for digestion and result in bloating," Kendall said.

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Here's an easy yoga sequence to try the next time you feel bloated. And you don't have to be a yogi to give them a go.

1. Reclining bound angle pose

"Start in Supta baddha konasana (supported by a bolster or pillow and block)," Tuck explained.

To get into this position, lie down on your back. Place the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to gently fall apart.

Do slow, deep breathing and use as many blankets and pillows as you need to make yourself comfortable. Continue this for five minutes.

2. Seated side bend

"Come up to Sukhasana (or Easy Pose), inhale raise arms to the ceiling, place palms together. Exhale lower the arms," Tuck said.

Once in this crossed legged position, start side stretches by inhaling and raising the right arm, then exhale and take the right arm over to the left side, bending into a side stretch. Hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.

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Look up to the ceiling for a greater stretch.

3. Seated side twist

"Place your right hand behind you, resting on fingertips," Tuck said.

"Place left hand to right knee, inhale to lengthen the spine and sides of the body, and exhale to twist to look over the right shoulder."

Hold this pose for five slow breaths, then release and repeat on the opposite side.

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Focus on drawing your navel to spine at the end of each exhalation.

4. Cat-cow

From a seated position, make your way to tabletop, with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips.

"Inhale, draw your navel to the floor, look up to the ceiling, and exhale, draw navel to spine, tuck the tail bone, chin to throat. Repeat 5-10 times," Tuck told HuffPost Australia.

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From this position, exhale and arch your back to the ceiling like a cat stretching.

5. Sun salutation

Sun Salutation is a series of energising poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement.

"Do this Sun Salutation twice to warm the body and digestive agni or fire," Tuck said.

Start standing up with your toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Inhale arms to the ceiling, exhale, forward fold. Inhale, halfway lift with your fingertips on your shins. Exhale, forward fold.

Step right leg back into high lunge, inhale, raise both hands to the ceiling. Five breaths. Bring hands to prayer, hook left elbow over top right thigh to twist to the right. Hold 5-10 breaths.

Place hands back in front of you and move into plank. Go through Chaturanga (from plank position: exhale, lower yourself down to mat evenly, inhale, move into upward facing dog, exhale, downward facing dog, inhale, exhale, step feet to meet at the top of the mat, inhale halfway lift, exhale forward fold, inhale arms to ceiling).

Repeat on the opposite side, and do each side again once more.

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Up Dog is a deep stretch for the stomach.

6. Locust pose

"Come to the floor and move into Salabhasana (locust pose) for five breaths," Tuck said.

To get into this back and stomach bending pose, lay down on your stomach with your arms by your side. Engage your bum muscles and on an inhale breath, lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor.

Reach strongly through your legs and arms, and keep the big toes turned toward each other. Exhale and release to the ground. Repeat pose for five breath counts.

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If this pose is uncomfortable on your pelvic bone, place a blanket underneath you.

7. Bow pose

In the same position lying down on your stomach, bend your knees and hold your ankles or feet. Engage your bum muscles and on an inhale breath, lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor. With strong legs and arms, gently pull on your ankles/feet so you create a bow shape.

Still in the position, the breath can be used to create a rocking boat motion and stimulate the digestive tract. Inhale to let the upper abdomen expand and exhale to contract. After five inhalations and exhalations, release to the ground.

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8. Reclined spinal twist

To release the back and reverse this pose, it's time for a gentle reclined twist.

"Lower to the ground and roll over onto the back," Tuck said.

To move into Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Spinal Twist), lie on your back and extend your legs. On an exhalation, hug both knees into your chest. Stretch your left leg out, keeping your right knee hugged in. Extend your right arm along the floor and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee.

On an exhale breath, drop your right knee over to the left side of your body and keep your left hand resting on your knee. Turn your head to the right, relax and hold the pose for at least 10 slow breaths.

On an inhale breath, slowly come back to the centre, hug both knees into your chest and repeat on the other leg.

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You can adjust this pose by moving both legs to one side and twist.

9. Knees-to-chest

On an inhalation, slowly bring both knees to your chest (Apanasana) and stay here for at least five breaths.

10. Savasana

Corpse pose, the best asana of all.

To move into Savasana from Apanasana, gently release your knees and extend your legs along the floor, spreading your legs and arms slightly. Stay in Savasana for at least five minutes and for as long as you feel.

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Light candles and use an eye mask to make Savasana super relaxing.

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