Yoga practices support digestive health in general, as well as specific conditions.
Digestive Health in General
Digestive health is supported by overall well-being, of course. Mindful yoga practices support nervous system balance, stress reduction, pain management and more. Learn more: Why Yoga Works.
The digestive system works best when the nervous system is in a balanced state, which for most people means spending more time in rest and digest mode (as opposed to flight or fight mode). Yoga has a positive effect on the nervous system, thereby promoting proper digestive system functioning. By reducing stress and calming the nervous system, yoga helps to calm an irritated digestive system.
Yoga can also teach students to listen to their body, helping them to gain the skills to more easily identify which foods or other factors aggravate their digestion.
More Specific Effects
Healthy Gut Bacteria – Stress management may also play a role in maintaining healthy gut bacteria, which influences the metabolism of certain nutrients in food, regulation of the immune system, and experiences of hunger, satiety and sleep.
Organ Health – Asanas can benefit the digestive system by supporting good circulation to the digestive organs, strengthening the muscular support around the organs and stimulating good elimination. “Increased blood flow to the small (and large) intestine means stronger intestinal contractions, more digestive enzymes, and chyme moving along with a bit more vigor.” (Olga Kabel)
Effective Esophagus Functioning – “Restorative poses where your head and chest are higher than your belly and standing yoga postures can improve the functioning of your esophagus, and stress management practices will help both you and your esophagus relax.” (Yoga for Healthy Aging)
Symptom Relief & Prevention – For conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, a yoga practice can help to bring the digestive system back into balance during an acute flare up and can extend symptom-free periods. (Yoga for Healthy Aging)
Shortened Recovery Time – Restorative practices, relaxation techniques and pranayama can help to shorten recovery times from flare ups and from surgery. (Yoga for Healthy Aging)