When the gut is upset or bloated your whole day will be affected. Sometimes all you want to do is curl up in bed, and the last thing you would think of is a yoga practice. Yoga can however give you relief in the short and the long term.
Let's start with the pose called in Sanskrit Apānāsana. The translation is "wind relieving pose" - there's a clue that the yoga masters of yore were on your side!
So if you feel bloated, Apānāsana can be a great go to pose. Here's how:
Lie down on your back and draw the knees in towards the chest. Already you are squeezing the bowel area so don't overdo it, go gentle. You can stay in this position gently drawing the knees closer on your exhale and letting them drift away on the inhale.
Then holding onto the left knee, stretch the right leg out straight to rest on the floor. rest in this position for awhile. This has freed up the ascending colon which rises on the right.
After a while draw the right leg back up and hold that knee towards the chest while you stretch the left leg out straight and rest it on the floor. You are now freeing the descending colon and squeezing in on the ascending.
You might like to repeat this several times, going from side to side, resting awhile in each position.
When things are bad, don't try to do too much. Just this Apānāsana might be all you can handle, then take some rest.
You can use Apānāsana when you are feeling bloated and uncomfortable. There are many movements in postural yoga that will generally tone your digestive tract and promote its health in the longer term.
A well rounded postural yoga practice will tick all of the boxes to begin to bring your digestive processes into alignment. Helpful are poses that build your core strength - they also build digestive fire, and poses that press and massage the abdomen and belly, so think twists and forward folds. I would also vote for back bends, especially those that press on the belly, like bow pose and locust.
Your gut is highly sensitive to your emotional states and your stress levels, so your well-rounded yoga practice for gut health must include the practises that help to stabilise your mental wellbeing.
Never skip Śavāsana. If you hate Śavāsana because your mind is so busy, you need it more. You will find some tips for Śavāsana over here. Śavāsana is the fundamental relaxation practice that is an essential part of yoga practice, not the part you skip because you are busy.
Beyond Śavāsana, also include restorative yoga, meditation, prānāyāma and mantra. These are practices that will work wonders to calm the stress levels down and allow the gut to settle.
Ayurveda is yoga's cousin disciple that is all about health. Ayurveda takes gut health very seriously. An Ayurvedic practitioner will take a very individual approach to your whole health and work with you to develop a diet and daily program that will be ideal for your constitution to aid your overall health.
(Author, Tina Shettigara)