3 yoga poses that can aid digestion and improve gut health

Shot of a beautiful young woman practising yoga in a studio
Certain yoga poses can offer relief from digestive issues like constipation and bloating. (Getty Images)

Yoga has long been known to have a number of benefits for those who practise it - from improved flexibility, strength and posture, to better mental health and mindfulness. But did you know that yoga can also benefit your digestive system?

The practice of yoga, which has Hindu origins, is focused on the physical, mental and spiritual health of those who do it. In the Western world, it mostly comprises posture-based physical fitness and stress relief techniques - all of which can lead to better gut health.

As we plant our feet firmly in 2024, many Britons are looking to adopt healthier habits to pursue the ultimate goal of better health and wellness. Yoga is a popular and accessible exercise to pick up, as it is suitable for beginners and can even be practised at home.

Gut health is also a big priority this year. So we turned to the experts to find out which yoga poses and flows can help improve digestive health and why they are beneficial for this particular health issue.

Watch: Keys to improving your gut health

Why is yoga good for the digestive system?

Yasmin El-Saie, a London-based yoga teacher and reiki expert, tells Yahoo UK that yoga works in two ways to improve digestion.

"From an anatomical perspective, yoga, with its asana poses and breathwork, activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the ‘rest and digest’ mode as we like to call it," she explains.

"That kind of gives it away - we need to be resting in order for our digestive systems to function properly. When we are stressed and heightened the blood flow goes away from the internal organs (except for the heart) and digestion is paused for more urgent functions to ensure physical survival, the sympathetic nervous system. So we can experience symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, constipation or nausea."

Certain yoga poses that involve twisting the body also helps to ‘massage’ our insides, and encourage things to move along.

"Don’t forget that our intestines are made of muscle: so yoga twisting poses stimulate peristalsis, the movement of food through the guts and the elimination of waste. There are studies that with regular yoga practice, IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] symptoms are alleviated. Opening up the stomach muscles gently can also bring welcomed relief."

Yoga to improve gut health

There are a number of yoga poses and flows you can practise to maintain good gut health or carry out whenever you feel uncomfortable - whether it’s due to constipation, indigestion or bloating.

Child’s pose

Laura Bunting, founder of Wildlife and Yoga Retreats, recommends an easy pose known as child’s pose to soothe discomfort from a bloated belly.

Diverse people wearing sportswear doing child exercise, stretching at group lesson, practicing yoga on mats on floor, relaxing in Balasana pose, working out in modern yoga studio with instructor
Child's pose can be an effective and easy way of combating digestive discomfort. (Getty Images)

Start by kneeling with your shins and the upper part of your feet pressed to the ground and knees are slightly wider than hip-width apart.

Shift your weight back, resting your hips on your heels and gently extend your arms forward. Allow your forehead to rest on the mat. You can choose to extend your arms forward, with palms on the ground, or backwards near your waist facing upwards.

Hold this posture for five to eight breaths, or longer if it feels good. If being on your knees is uncomfortable, you can try a modified version by lying on your back with your knees hugged into your chest.

Supine twist

Practicing Reclined Spinal Twist Pose: Beautiful woman in sportswear doing spine rotation exercise on a gray exercise mat in the living room at home.
A supine twist, also known as a spinal twist, can help relieve bloating. (Getty Images)

This pose begins with lying on your back and bringing one knee close to your chest. If you have brought your right knee up to your chest, guide it to the left side of the room with your left hand. Try to keep your shoulders on the mat as you do this.

Close your eyes and take five to eight deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.


Lie on your back with your legs up in the air. If you have practised them before and are comfortable, you can even go into a headstand. Hold the pose for five to eight breaths.

A Latin female athlete doing a handstand while being on yoga mat
According to experts, an inversion pose in yoga can 'facilitate the release of trapped gases'. (Getty Images)

Bunting says that inverting the body can aid digestion by “reversing gravity on digestive organs, facilitating the release of trapped gases and promoting optimal blood flow to vital organs”.

She adds: “Given that stress can impact digestion negatively, it’s crucial to approach these movements slowly and mindfully. Focus on deep breathing and slow, intentional movements to enhance the effectiveness or these poses in relieving discomfort and aiding digestion.”

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