Yoga isn’t usually our first thought when we’ve just polished off a big meal. Instead, many of us prefer to sit down or curl up on the sofa. But, if you can resist these urges and do some stretching, you could reverse feelings of bloating, aid digestion, and improve your gut health.
This is because specific yoga exercises can help to massage your internal organs, support your intestines and promote detoxification. So, if you're experiencing digestive issues due to overeating or eating too quickly, why not try one or two of the following yoga sequences? Say goodbye to bloating and hello to a happier gut.
Top four yoga poses for digestion
These four poses can be great for bringing immediate relief for indigestion and improving gut health. For longer-term improvements, it is important to couple exercises with a good diet. Stress can also have an impact on digestion, so why not try our guide to the 10 best yoga poses for relieving stress?
This twisting pose can gently massage the abdominal organs, including the stomach and intestines, which helps stimulate digestion. It can also help aid in relieving indigestion symptoms such as bloating, gas, and discomfort. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit down and bend your left leg so your left foot is next to your right buttock.
- Cross your right leg over the left, placing your foot on top.
- Hold your right leg with your left hand.
- Place your right arm behind your back and twist your torso backwards.
- Gently turn your gaze over your right shoulder.
- Hold this posture for a few breaths.
- Repeat the steps on the other side.
As well as helping digestion, the seated half-twist is great for flexibility. Check out our guide to the best yoga poses for flexibility if you want to see more poses to improve your stretchiness.
Knee to chest
This stretch creates gentle compression in the abdominal area, which can help massage the bowels and stimulate the digestive organs. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back and bend your legs.
- Draw your knees towards your chest using your arms.
- Keep your back and neck on the floor.
- Stay in this position for a few breaths.
The knee-to-chest is also a great position for those just starting out in yoga, as it is basic and can be held for a long time. If you’re just starting out in yoga or want to know some basic poses to add to your routine, then check out our guide to the easiest yoga poses for beginners, recommended by experts.
The backbend position in the cobra pose can help improve blood circulation to the abdomen, where the digestive organs are. Increased blood flow to these can enhance their function, aiding digestion and alleviating indigestion symptoms, here’s how to do it:
- Start laying on your belly and place your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
- Pause for a moment looking straight down at your mat with your neck in a neutral position. Anchor your pubic bone to the floor and inhale to lift your chest off the floor.
- Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor, making sure your elbows continue hugging your sides.
- Don’t let them wing out to either side, and make sure to keep your neck neutral.
- Your gaze should stay in front of you. And breath.
The cobra pose not only increases the blood flow but helps to reduce stress and can help to ease body pain as well. For more poses which help alleviate these, check out our guide to the 10 best yoga poses for pain and stress relief.
Supine belly twist
During the supine belly twist, the twist and compression of the abdomen can gently massage the digestive organs, including the stomach and intestines. This movement can help stimulate blood flow to the digestive system and aid in digestion, here’s how:
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- Lie on your back and bend your legs, bringing them as close to your buttocks as possible.
- Rest your head on your crossed arms.
- Keep your elbows and shoulders on the floor throughout the exercise.
- Exhale as you lower your legs to the right and gently turn your head to the left.
- On the next exhale, bring your legs back to the centre and then twist them to the other side.
- Repeat this exercise five to ten times.
Now you’ve seen the four best poses for digestion, why not check out our other guides to yoga under our wellness section? Here you can find advice from experts on specific yoga poses, why you should be practising yoga, and five common yoga mistakes (and how to avoid them).
The best yoga mats to help with your stretches
If you’re new to yoga or your mat is looking a bit run down, then here are some of the best yoga mats on the market. Having a good mat can give you the motivation to get down and have a post-dinner stretch or practise more indigestion-soothing positions in your free time.
- Jade Voyager Yoga Mat, Decathlon, £35: This mat is lightweight and super portable. Unlike traditional rollable yoga mats, the extra-thin Jade Voyager mat folds up to about the size of a yoga block, making it ideal for stashing in a backpack or luggage.
- Umi Yoga Mat, Amazon, £24.99: This mat from Umi is thick and tear-proof, making it a good choice if you’re looking for a comfortable mat that can handle a lot of wear. It also features a clear alignment line down its centre to help guide positioning during yoga poses.
- Pro Fitness Cork Yoga Mat, Argos, £23: Instead of using man-made materials, Pro Fitness’s eco-friendly mat has been created using a natural cork upper side, which provides grip while also being water and sweat resistant.
- Manduka Begin Yoga and Pilates Mat, Decathlon, £45: If you’re looking for a mat to share with your family or friends, the Manduka Begin is a great all-rounder. It features a grippy upper surface that should suit most basic yoga poses, with an alignment guideline down its centre to help with positioning, while its lifetime guarantee promises longevity.
To see a complete list check out our guide to The best yoga mats, recommended by expert yoga teachers.
Want to learn more about yoga and see some more expert-led reviews and fitness guides? Head over to The Recommended’s fitness section. Here you can see the best yoga mats as recommended by experts, yoga vs Pilates, and the best full-body workouts to perform at home.
Finn Byrne is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media. He works across several brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeforMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. Finn has previously written for publications including MyLondon, The Mirror, The Express, and The Star. When not writing Finn enjoys spending time on the football pitch and getting stuck into a book.