Constipation is a common complaint. While medications and over-the-counter treatments can help, some people may be interested in alternative therapies, such as yoga.
Though yoga may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to constipation, there is some evidence that suggests yoga can help alleviate it.
For example, a 2015 study of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) determined that yoga could be a cost effective alternative therapy for the predominant symptoms of the condition, which are constipation and diarrhea.
The researchers added that yoga might also help address other symptoms that IBS may bring, such as anxiety and fatigue.
Some yoga postures can manipulate a person’s digestive tract and may help relieve constipation by encouraging the digestive tract to pass stool or gas.
Keep reading for more information on yoga poses that may help alleviate constipation. Some of these poses are more challenging than others. Be cautious when attempting these postures, and do not push yourself too hard. Some people may prefer to speak to a yoga instructor before attempting the more advanced postures.
People can try this posture while sitting on a yoga mat or other soft surface.
To perform the twist:
- sit with the legs straight out in front of the body
- bend the right leg and place the right foot on the ground on the outside of the left leg, ideally near the knee
- bend the left leg and place it under or close to the buttocks
- place the left hand or elbow on or over the right knee and gently twist to face over the right shoulder
- hold the pose for a few breaths, then switch sides
The supine twist also may help a person alleviate constipation.
To perform this twist:
- lie flat on the back
- bring the arms out to the side in a T-position with palms down
- bend one leg at the knee
- while keeping the shoulders flat, gently let the bent leg drop over the other leg
- hold the pose for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side
The Crescent Lunge Twist is a standing pose that requires a person to be in a lunge position. This pose also involves twisting the torso, which may help promote a bowel movement.
To perform this twist:
- lunge forward with the right leg bent and the left leg straight
- place the hands into a prayer position and slowly bend the upper body toward the right knee, leading with the left shoulder
- hold the pose for a few breaths, then return to standing and start again with the opposite leg
The Cobra Pose does not require any twisting, but it could help alleviate other symptoms, such as gas.
To perform Cobra Pose:
- lie flat on the stomach with the toes pointed out
- place the palms on the floor at the sides, next to the shoulders
- engage the abdominal muscles and legs
- lift the head slightly, and gently curl the neck backward
- press the palms into the floor, gently lift the shoulders and upper body up
- hold for several breaths
- release and lower the body back to the floor