Yoga Twists for Digestion

One thing I am thankful for in this pandemic is that when working from home I found myself forming the habit of doing some easy yoga stretches in the morning, between tasks, after work, and before bedtime. Now that I’m no longer working from home, I still try to carry on with that habit. I’m not into hardcore, aggressive exercises (I know I should do more of those…), and I can’t force myself to like meditation, but I’m loving the peace that yoga brings me and I can really feel where I need more work on in my body! It’s almost like knowing yourself (your body) better!

Some people may find yoga to be too slow and that “when you’re not sweating, you’re not exercising”. But oh man, it can be sweaty and intense when you progress! There’s always room for improvement for a seemingly simple stretch, and there’s always a more challenging pose that you can work on as your next new goal!

When should you do yoga after eating?

Yoga can even be a digestive aid. The general rule of thumb is to wait at least 2-3 hours after eating a meal (or 1 hour after having a light snack) before practicing yoga so that your body have time to digest.

But of course our body don’t just digest in 2-3 hours time, it works 24/7! To give our body a little digestive and healing power boost, some yoga stretches can be really helpful, especially poses that involve twists!

Why does twists help with digestion?

When you’re doing a twist, you’re essentially pressing your digestive organs by putting more weight on them, which causes a temporary decrease in blood flow in that area. Upon releasing from the twist, there’s a gentle increase of blood flow back to that area and thus increasing the circulation of oxygen and nutrients which help those organs to function efficiently. To sum up, twists are great for creating movement in and around our organs by encouraging mobility and motility.

To take a deeper dive in how yoga helps with digestion and “move things along”, let’s talk about how our colon (aka. large intestine) functions. The colon consists of 4 sections: ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon, all named for the way our colon moves waste toward the rectum. Therefore, by twisting to the right first, we open up the ascending colon to help the content (stool) move up to the transverse colon. Next, by twisting to the left, we encourage the stool to travel down the descending colon and towards the “exit route”.

Diagram from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/870153

How to do twists for digestion?

  • Twist to the right first, then to the left (see above on the why!)
  • Keep breathing through the twists (inhales are for length and opening before twists, while exhales are for deepening folds and twists.)
  • Keep the twists even (helps keep your body in balance)
  • Listen to your body (don’t force yourself into any pose that doesn’t feel right to you – if you feel pinching and pain, you’re probably doing a bit too much! Ease in to the pose and do what you can)

RESOURCES:

Yin yoga (slower pace)
Vinyasa Flow (faster pace)

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