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Constipation is a real issue that affects many people. The causes can be everything from the food or drink you ingest to hormones, stress, and lack of sleep. Here are the best yoga poses that can help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of constipation.
Yoga twists are incredible detoxing tools. They stimulate the digestive system, promoting the breakdown of food and cleansing from all the toxins.
Every time you get out from a twist, new blood rushes into your spine, sending fresh oxygen into every cell in your body, nourishing it with nutrients. Additionally, twists massage your inner organs, sending signals from your intestines to your brain, improving your digestion.
Whether you choose a sitting, lying, or standing pose for the twists doesn’t matter, as all of them work their magic. Choose the pose that feels good for your body and use your breath to maximize its benefits.
Inhales extend your spine and allow you to take in more oxygen, exhales take you deeper into the twist.
Here are some twisting poses you can try:
- From standing poses, your best options are a chair twist (Parivrtta Utkatasana), lunge twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana), and the balancing revolved hand to foot pose (Parivrtta Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana).
- When sitting down, you can choose from an array of low- and high-intensity twists, using your hands as leverage to push yourself away from the ground. Twist deeper with each breath cycle.
Generally, sitting twists are easier to perform as you do not have to worry about balance or whether or not your lower body is strong and active. Half lord of fishes (ArdhaMatsyendrasana) or easy versions of Marichyasana is suitable for everyone, regardless of the level of experience or flexibility.
Poses such as Bharadvajasana and Marichyasana C and D are more advanced and require more mobility in your spine.
- Lying down twists are the most accessible of the bunch, as they can be the easiest on the spine. Simply lifting your knees to your chest and dropping them to your right or left is a great way to begin your day and give your whole system a start, stimulating digestion and blood flow.
You can go deeper and stretch out your legs. You can even wrap your legs around like you would in an eagle pose, but you can always adjust as needed.
2. Peacock Pose (Mayurasana)
Although not the easiest pose in the world, the peacock pose is definitely one of the best when it comes to helping your digestion system and relieving blockage and constipation.
The way your elbows and triceps push into your abdomen helps activate your intestines and fire up the nerve endings, improving the gut-brain connection.
- Warm-up by lying face down on your mat and lifting your hips. Wiggle your hands close to each other right under your body, palms facing down.
- Bring your hips back on top of your hands and walk your fingers down toward your knees, stretching out your entire arms and shoulders.
- Firmly push your hands toward the ground. Keeping your upper body on the floor, try to lift your legs up, using just the strength of your middle back.
- Stay in this position for a moment or two, and come back down. You can repeat this a few times, feeling your body warm-up. After a few rounds, you will be ready to get into the peacock pose.
- Starting in a kneeling position, with your knees wide, lean forward and place your palms into the floor, fingers facing toward you (or the sides if this is too much on your wrists).
- Bend your elbows and try to bring your arms as close to each other as possible.
- Lean forward even more, and try to rest your upper body on top of your hands, bringing your belly button right above your elbows.
- Make sure you are as comfortable as the pose allows and just stay in the position, breathing. Feel the pressure of your trunk on your upper arms and your elbows digging into your abdomen, massaging your inner organs. Make sure to activate your abs, so you are not causing yourself any pain or too much pressure.
Even just staying in the position and not going any further do plenty for your digestive system. However, if you wish to take the pose further, lean a bit more with your forehead toward the floor and extend your legs back, one by one, activating the quadriceps.
- Keep your heels high, pushing into the balls of your feet.
- The last step is the tricky part, trying to find the balance that will allow you to lift your legs completely off the floor. Play with the weight shift by leaning a bit more forward and lifting only one leg, before slowly finding the stability to lift both.
The last step is not a requirement and even experienced yoga practitioners struggle with this pose, so there is no need to go this far. For digestion stimulation purposes, just taking the first few steps to get into the pose is more than enough.
3. Revolved Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
Any type of pose that involves compression in the side body will be very beneficial in relieving blockage and constipation. This part is where the intestines tend to bloat and get inflamed the most.
Even a simple standing pose with a slight side bend will help a ton, but revolved warrior takes it a step further and allows you to get deep and send signals into your brain to get things flowing.
- Starting in Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), prepare by flipping your palms up and shifting your torso slightly forward to create space.
- On your next inhale, flip your back palm, and like you are scraping your arms against an imaginary wall, revolve your warrior by placing your back hand above or under the back of your knee.
- Try not to collapse your spine and lean on your back arm. Use it to “grow tall” with every inhale.
- Bring your front arm up toward the sky and let it lead you into a backbend, with shoulders away from the ears. Inhales elongate the spine, exhales take you deeper into the compression.
- Make sure your legs stay low and strong, keeping the warrior II foundation solid. When exiting the pose, make sure to first come back to warrior II, reset, and then repeat it all on the other side.
4. Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Inversions are amazing because they change the way gravity affects your body and create space in your abdomen and lower spine without any tension or compression. These effects are especially important when digestion slows down.
They help ease the symptoms and bring the blood back into the stomach and intestines, giving them fresh energy and oxygen to relieve bloating, pain, and inflammation caused by constipation.
- Commence the exercise by lying on your back and elevating your legs vertically into the air. Flex your feet and activate your quadriceps, feeling your whole spine pressing firmly into the floor.
- Slowly shift your weight toward your torso, and use the momentum to lift your hips, placing your hands on your sacrum, allowing them to support it.
- On inhale, extend your legs straight up. Try to make a perfect line from your elbows all the way up to your toes.
- You can stay in this position or continue to walk your hands up your back toward your shoulder blades in order to create an even bigger lift. You can even challenge yourself by placing your hands down on your mat and firmly pushing into the floor.
- Stay in the inversion for 3-5 long, big breaths, and slowly come back down by first placing your hips safely into the ground and then bending your knees in for a hug or going into a plow pose if that is in your practice.
These are just some of the yoga poses you can try when you find yourself experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of constipation.
You may need to seek professional help according to the severity of your condition. Along with medical intervention, self-massage and deep, purposeful breathing will always be great tools to have at your disposal.