For constipation, yoga poses should be focused on creating bowel movements through abdominal stimulation, postural alignment, and specialized breathing practices. Add one in each category to your daily routine to get things flowing.
The abdomen contains all of the organs in the digestive system. This is why firing up the muscles and surrounding fascia is important for constipation relief.
Agni Sara involves activation of core muscles to stimulate movement in the midsection.
- Begin standing tall with your feet wider than hip distance apart.
- Place your on your knees, rounding forward.
- Exhale all the air from your belly.
- Tighten you abdominal muscles, drawing your belly button in toward your spine, similar to "sucking in your gut." The motion should be drawing in and up or in and down, creating a rippling motion.
- Make the opposite motion, releasing the muscles and pressing them outward to make your belly protrude.
- Holding your breath, continuously repeat steps four through six until you need to inhale again.
Nauli kriya is performed the same way as agni sara, only in a lateral, circular motion.
This is far more difficult to achieve. However, if practiced regularly, your technique will improve and you'll experience greater flexibility in your ribcage and hips. Complete three rounds in each direction.
Twists are a simpler, subtler way to stimulate digestion. There are several varieties.
- The seated spinal twist also stretches the lower back and hips
- The reclined twist is a great restorative pose also used to relieve sciatic pain
- Chair pose, a basic yoga pose for which you can add a twist by hooking your elbow to the outside of your opposite knee
- Reverse half moon, an intermediate pose you achieve by starting in traditional half moon, then reaching the opposite hand toward the ground
These are just a small sampling of yoga twists, since a rotation can be added to most asanas for therapeutic benefits.
The abdominals can also be stimulated through exercises that are more fitness-based.
- Plank is a basic core exercise that isometrically works the abs, firming them to stabilize and sculpt your midsection.
- Boat pose works the same muscles as a plank. In addition to contracting the abdominals, it also increases balance and helps to create good neck, shoulder, and back posture.
- Cobra pose works the muscles of the back while stretching the belly and the hips flexors. Upward facing dog is a good progression.
Hold each pose for about five to ten breaths for a total of three rounds.
Breath of Fire
Pranayama is a drawing out of the life force, practiced through breathing techniques. Breath of fire is a form of pranayama practiced in the tantric tradition to build heat and energy in the body.
- Begin sitting up nice and tall.
- Take in a small breath.
- Exhale sharply, pressing your breath out of your nose so it makes a whooshing sound.
- Repeat steps two and three as quickly as possible for a total of 50 repetitions or for up to five minutes.
This method of breathing creates heat in the body, which can trigger enhanced blood flow and simply feel invigorating.
Poses that help relieve gas also allow you to practice the ideal posture for smooth bowel movement. A handful of these asanas practiced regularly will help you work toward this goal.
- Wind relieving pose, also known as knees to chest pose, involves laying on your back and hugging one or two knees in toward your chest.
- Yogic squat mimics the way some cultures relieve themselves, using squat toilets, which are just like normal toilets except they are in the ground instead of propped up. With practice, the full expression of the pose will lengthen your spine, allowing a smooth line of departure for waste.
- Downward frog pose is a variation on the traditional frog pose, in which you slide your knees and feet apart and lay on your belly to stretch your inner thighs.
Hold each pose for five to ten breaths for a total of three rounds.
Flow Through Constipation
Yoga poses that aid in each layer of the process to relieve constipation include those that engage and stimulate your core muscles, those that create heat and energy flow throughout your body, and those that foster better posture. Choose one in each category to practice back to back daily to encourage release. Continue practicing even after your bodily functions have returned to normal to prevent it from happening again in the future and to reap the other benefits of those poses.