Woman practicing Vajrasana hero pose in a yoga studio

IBS and Yoga

May 08, 2019

IBS and Yoga

It could be as many as 1 in 10 people that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the UK. As a result they will regularly experience abdominal and lower back pain, gas, bloating and erratic bowel movement. Which brings much discomfort and embarrassment. Some yoga practices may help to relieve the symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of outbreaks. 

Yoga postures (asanas) that twist, compress and or stretch the torso will provide a massage to the digestive organs and enhance their functions. This helps to move waste through the system, eliminate wind and relieve any abdominal pain and discomfort.

Yoga also helps to reduce stress and induces a deep state of relaxation, as stress is considered to be one of the possible triggers of IBS then it becomes even more apparent that IBS sufferers would benefit from practicing yoga regularly.

Here are a few simple postures to include as part of your daily routine to help manage IBS: -

Jathara Parivrttasana (Spinal Twist) – will gently stretch and massage the intestines which will help to move waste through the body and relieve constipation.

Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and your arms out level with your shoulders and your palms facing up. Inhale and as you exhale let your knees fall to the right and turn your head to the left. As you inhale lift your knees up in the centre and as you exhale allow the knees to fall to the left and turn your head to the right. Continue like this for at least ten complete breaths working both sides equally.

Majaryasana (Cat) –will gently stretch and compress the torso, massaging the digestive system helping to relieve gas and abdominal and lower back pain.

Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Exhale and as you do so look through your legs and round your spine up towards the ceiling. As you do so draw up the lower stomach muscles and pull your navel towards your spine. When you inhale lengthen your torso moving through your starting position and then tilt your pelvis up and lift your chest and head. Continue to roll through cat coordinating your breath to you movement for ten or more complete breaths.

Paschimotanasana (Seated Forward Bend) – will apply a little pressure to the digestive system helping to relieve wind and abdominal discomfort.

Begin sitting on your bottom with your legs extended in front of you with your toes pointing straight up. Slowly fold your upper body forwards as you exhale whilst maintaining a straight spine. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose and work to relax on each exhalation. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose for at least twenty complete breaths.

Setu Bandhasana (Half Bridge) – will stretch the organs of digestion.

Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly fixed on the floor. Slowly lift your hips keeping your feet and shoulders in contact with the floor.  Breathe slowly in and out through your nose for five complete breaths and repeat two more times.

Apanasana (Wind Relief) – will do just that!

Lie on your back and draw your knees in towards your chest, lightly hold either your knees or shins. As you inhale allow the knees to drift away and as you exhale bring the knees closer to your chest. Continue for ten complete breaths.  The last time you draw your knees in towards your chest hold it there and continue to breathe slowly. If it is comfortable lift your head and direct your forehead towards your knees, relax your shoulders and hold for five complete breaths.

The Yoga 2 Hear Detox Yoga class includes all of the above postures and more!

A Few Further Considerations

Starting the day with a simple Yoga vinyasa (flowing yoga sequence) will wake up the digestive system and remove any stagnant energy that has accumulated overnight whilst the body lay relatively still. It will also set you up perfectly for the day ahead by helping to clear and focus the mind.

At the end of each day, take the time to rest in Savasana (the corpse). This will help to relieve stress, clear and focus the mind and enable you to achieve a good night’s sleep. To perform Savasana lay on your back with your legs extended and your arms beside your body with your palms facing up. Lightly close your eyes.  Breathe slowly in and out through your nose and work to relax on each exhalation.

To aid digestion make sure you sit with a straight spine during and immediately after eating – just imagine what happens to all of those organs inside the torso when you slouch.

Vajrasana (the hero pose) is the perfect posture to keep the spine straight and the digestive organs free from restrictions; however this posture should be avoided by anyone who suffers from knee pain.

To perform Vajrasana begin on your knees with your bottom on your heels and your knees together.  Then widen your feet and lower your bottom to the floor. If this is uncomfortable try placing cushions under your bottom to elevate your hips.

However if this is not suitable sitting in a firm chair with a straight spine and your feet firmly on the floor with your knees bent to a right angle is the perfect alternative.  Breathe slowly in and out through your nose.

Yoga practitioners make many positive lifestyle changes, without consciously trying.  Yoga has the ability to re-balance the entire system as a result yoga practitioners find that they no longer crave high calorie snacks or caffeine which has an extremely positive effect on the digestive system.

Practicing yoga also increases that feel good feeling as it releases endorphins, it encourages a positive disposition that will have an extremely positive impact on the intensity of out breaks of IBS and the symptoms experienced.

Not too mention that a well structured yoga practice leaves you feeling great!