Every year around Thanksgiving at least one of my students will inevitably ask what kind of yoga poses are good for digestion. Since the big holiday feast is fast approaching, I thought I would share my five favorite yoga poses for good digestion. They include a nice combination of yoga poses that gently massage the abdomen and digestive system, as well as poses that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the ‘rest and digest’ system). Try them out before or after your Thanksgiving meal, or anytime your digestive system is feeling a little bloated or sluggish.
(Dynamic) Knee to Chest Pose
I like to do Knee to Chest Pose dynamically, one leg at a time, synchronized with the breath. Inhale to draw one knee in to the chest, then exhale the leg back out long on your mat. Switch legs. Go back and forth from leg to leg about a half dozen times or so. Fun fact: this one is also called ‘wind relieving pose.’
This is my favorite Kundalini yoga exercise, and a great one to get things moving in your digestive system. Sit cross-legged and then imagine that your upper body is a knife scraping out the insides of a peanut butter jar, moving in a circular motion over your legs. I like to synchronize it with the breath, inhaling as I circle forward, leading with my heart to get a bit of a backbend, and exhaling as I circle back, hollowing in my chest. Added bonus: it’s a great release for your hips and lower back too!
There are so many different varieties of twists in yoga: seated, supine, standing twist poses. They’re all good for gently compressing and massaging your internal organs and digestive system. Below is a picture of yours truly demonstrating a seated variation. You may remember from a previous blog post that this pose is good for sciatica as well.
Deep squats are great for digestion, but are not accessible to many bodies. Never fear! There are ways to modify yoga poses for every body. Try squatting on a block as is demonstrated in the picture below–or even stack two blocks on their lowest level to keep you a little higher off the ground. I also like some dynamic movement in my squats, and will often move back and forth between a squat and a standing forward bend a handful of times before I settle into the squat to hold it for a minute or so.
Legs Up the Wall
Last but not least is crowd favorite Legs Up the Wall. This is a great example of a restorative yoga pose that stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system–our body’s ‘rest and digest’ system. Use it liberally for good digestion, and for overall good health and wellbeing. You can use props as in the photo below, or just lie with your back flat on your mat. See which variation helps you feel most relaxed.
These are just 5 of the many poses I share in my yoga sequences for good digestion during my upcoming ‘7 Weeks of Wellness’ Live+Virtual course. The sequences in this course will: help improve your digestion; stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder; help you relax; enhance your immune system; strengthen your bones + more. Enroll today, we begin November 6!