In this article:
Should yoga poses to relieve constipation be performed in the morning on an empty stomach?
Yoga in general is most effective when practiced on an empty stomach and bladder. Depending on the type and intensity of yoga, it may be performed any time of day.
Most yoga poses that may help relieve constipation involve twisting and compressing the internal organs. Therefore, it can be uncomfortable to perform these motions shortly after eating. It is best to practice yoga for constipation before your normal bowel movement time.
If you usually go to the bathroom in the morning, try practicing yoga for constipation after you wake up on an empty stomach. If you usually go in the evening, you may want to wait a few hours after your last meal to practice yoga.
If you are unable to practice during the day or early evening, some simple stretches before bed such as wind-relieving poses, can help alleviate gas often associated with constipation.
- What You Should Know About Constipation in Children
- Constipation in Babies: Treatment, Prevention, and Home Remedies
- Yoga Poses to Relieve Constipation
What food items also provide relief from constipation?
Several foods may help to relieve constipation. Fiber is found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes.
Insoluble fiber acts as a “brush” for the intestines and adds bulk to the stool, thereby allowing it to pass more easily through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole grains and the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Soluble fiber, found in oat bran, flax seed, and some fruits and vegetables, can help draw water into the intestines, thereby, softening the stool.
Hydration is extremely important for healthy digestion. Consuming a cup of warm lemon-infused water first thing in the morning can stimulate your bowels and promote easy gastric emptying. Moreover, you must continue drinking ample amounts of water and other fluids throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and your digestive system happy.
What is the role of vitamins in constipation?
Constipation is often caused by a deficiency of essential vitamins in the body.
People who run low on vitamin D are more prone to intestinal motility disorders, which can result in long-term functional constipation. (6) Similarly, not getting enough vitamin B12 through your diet can lead to constipation.
While the lack of certain vitamins can cause constipation, the increased intake of some can help relieve it.
For instance, vitamin C when taken in higher doses, may work as a laxative. People suffering from constipation are often advised to consume a diet rich in vitamin C, as this nutrient helps accelerate the digestive process. You only have a bowel movement once the food is digested. Speedy digestion, in turn, leads to more frequent bowel movements.
You should strive to meet the daily recommended intake of vitamin C through your diet, but you can consider taking supplements if you regularly fail to do so.
Before starting any supplements, you must consult your doctor about the appropriate dosage and potential side effects.
Is massage beneficial for constipation?
Constipation occurs when the muscles controlling bowel movement become increasingly tense or constricted and are unable to push the stool through the gastrointestinal tract.
Massaging your abdomen may help relax the muscles that support the bladder and intestines, and thereby encourage bowel motility for easy defecation. This therapy can prove particularly useful when dietary and exercise measures fail to relieve constipation. A gentle tummy rub can also reduce the generalized pelvic and abdominal discomfort associated with constipation.
It is best if you schedule the massage at the time when you normally have your bowel movement in the morning, or you can do it whenever you get a chance to sit or lie down.
Consuming a hot beverage before starting the message can further stimulate bowel activity and make it easier for you to pass the stool.
Massage your abdomen for 20 minutes at least once every morning for 2 weeks to notice a real difference. (3) This therapeutic intervention can reduce your reliance on medications and laxatives, which may be associated with adverse side effects.
Thus, abdominal massage is a safe and convenient way to relieve constipation, even in children who are old enough to take laxatives.
Moreover, anyone can learn to do it since it is so easy, allowing patients to take charge of their own health. (4)
Are heating pads efficient for relieving constipation?
Topical heat therapy can help alleviate constipation to some extent. You can either use a warm compress such as a heating pad or a hot water bottle for this purpose or simply take a warm bath.
When you apply gentle heat to the abdomen, the heat travels through the skin to stimulate blood circulation and ease the tense muscles that control bowel activity. This, in turn, helps facilitate a smoother bowel movement and gastric emptying. Heat therapy works better if you do it after taking an oral medication or laxative for constipation.
Pregnant women are prone to constipation, especially during the later trimesters. This is largely because the growing uterus exerts its load on the gastrointestinal tract and disrupts normal bowel movement. Moreover, certain pregnancy hormones can adversely affect digestion, further exacerbating the problem.
Heat therapy is a safe and effective way to encourage bowel activity and relieve constipation in pregnant women without harming the uterus.
Which yoga poses can be done to relieve constipation during pregnancy?
Malasana, also called the garland or squat pose helps to open up the pelvic floor and may aid in digestion.
How to do this pose:
- Step wider than hip-distance apart with the toes turned slightly out.
- Lengthen through the crown of your head as you sink your tailbone toward the floor.
- Keep a yoga block or pillow between your legs for added support, if you want. You may also try sliding down a wall to help keep your balance.
- Listen to your body and come out of the pose if it becomes too uncomfortable.
How to do this pose:
- Start by positioning yourself on your hands and knees like a tabletop.
- Spread your knees out to the side as you sink back into your hips, extending your arms out in front of you.
- Place your chest on a pillow or yoga bolster for even more support.
- Close your eyes and slowly take a few long, deep breaths.
Note: Consult your health care provider before attempting these poses if you are pregnant.
Can yoga poses for getting rid of constipation be harmful when suffering from pre-existing medical conditions?
Yoga poses impact everyone differently. Please consult your health care provider before trying yoga if you have a medical condition.
Can yoga also be beneficial when suffering from IBS?
When practiced regularly, yoga may help to regulate the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and provide relief from some of these symptoms. It may also serve as an excellent stress management technique.
One study examined 51 adolescent and young adult patients with IBS who practiced Iyengar Yoga, a type of yoga focused on alignment and holding poses, for 6 weeks with a 90-minute class twice a week. The experimental group registered considerable relief from a number of IBS symptoms, sleep issues, fatigue, and psychological distress, as opposed to the control group who received conventional treatment. (5)
Can yoga worsen hemorrhoids?
What important points should be kept in mind while practicing yoga for constipation relief?
- Breathe and relax! Constipation can be extremely uncomfortable and anxiety provoking. Twisting into yoga poses may be very beneficial, but if you are not relaxing and breathing into the poses, you will not receive all the benefits of the practice.
Focus on inhaling and exhaling as you move through your practice, so that you activate the parasympathetic nervous system and divert blood to your digestive tract. This may help to relieve anxiety as well.
- Be consistent with your practice. Many factors contribute to constipation, so do not be discouraged if you do not produce a bowel movement after one spinal twist.
Even if you only have 10 minutes, take the time to move your body and perform a few yoga poses every day. This, along with a healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep, may help to relieve constipation.
- Practice yoga at home. Having an instructor to supervise and guide you through the poses is ideal. However, if that is not available to you, you can practice yoga poses anywhere – your family room, bed, or backyard!
- Modify a pose as needed to make it suit your body’s needs. If the pose causes pain, back off and come into the child’s pose. Even staying still in the child’s pose can help activate the digestive system.