Depression may trigger constipation. Hence, meditation and breathing exercises (pranayam) are important to keep your mind relaxed, which can help ease bowel movements.
Constipation is one of the most annoying health problems we experience often in life. Along with the physical discomfort, it also has certain adverse effects on the mind. One cannot concentrate on any task when suffering from constipation, because of the uneasiness and discomfort. Hence, in order to get relief from constipation, many people opt for over-the-counter medications. However, those medications may have adverse effects on the body, and hence, a better option is to opt for natural treatment methods, like practicing yoga.
Yoga is defined as a healing system that includes breathing exercises, postures, and meditation. Although rooted in Hindu culture, yoga is practiced in the West as a physical exercise and a relaxation therapy to manage stress, which could be the main cause of constipation. Practicing certain yoga exercises can definitely help relax your digestive system and provide relief from constipation.
An improper diet and inadequate water intake can also cause constipation. Insufficient water content in the body may lead to a decreased frequency in bowel movements, making the person pass hardened stools, with excruciating pain in some cases. Lots of fruits and veggies (preferably leafy greens) in the diet, sufficient water intake, and regular yoga practice is a great combination to help prevent constipation.
Yoga Postures for Constipation Relief
To Get into the Child's Pose
Sit on the floor and fold your legs back, so that your buttocks are resting on your heels. Now, while exhaling, bend forward so that your torso is resting on your thighs. Stretch your arms out in front of your body with the palms facing the floor. Stretch until you feel your torso lengthening and your shoulder blades stretching. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
Wind Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
The Wind Relieving Pose enhances blood circulation in the hip joints, and helps release tension in the lower back. It assists proper digestion and easy release of gas from the body.
To Get into the Wind Relieving Pose
Lie down on your back and breathe in. While exhaling, bend the left knee and pull it towards your chest. Clasp your hands around the shin of the bent leg, and press your thigh towards your chest. Keep the right leg straight. Take 5 - 7 deep breaths while holding this position. Loosen the grip on your leg while inhaling and tighten it while exhaling. This pose puts pressure on your abdomen and helps release gas, while relaxing the organs of the digestive tract.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
The Plow Pose is helpful in strengthening and toning the abdominal muscles while providing relief from constipation.
To Get into the Plow Pose
Get into a completely reclined position and then try to come into a supported shoulder stand pose. Now, while supporting your lower back, let your legs drop over your head until they touch the floor behind you. Once you are settled in the posture, remove your hands slowly and rest them on the floor. Hold the pose for about 15 seconds.
Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)
The Cobbler's Pose helps control your blood pressure, thus preventing constipation from turning severe. It stimulates the abdominal organs, and massages them to improve digestive circulation.
To Get into the Cobbler's Pose
Sit in the Staff Pose (Dandasana) with your legs stretched forward. If it's difficult to sit upright in the Staff Pose, elevate your hips by placing a blanket under the sit bones. Now, gently and slowly draw your knees closer to your pelvis; avoid overdoing this as it may hurt. Grasp the feet with your hands, while placing the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. Hold the position for as long as you can.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This is one of the twisting yoga poses that helps relieve constipation by compressing and stretching the digestive organs, which stimulates the large intestine.
To Get into the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Sit in the Staff Pose with your legs stretched in front and the buttocks supported with a folded blanket. Bend your knees and slide your right foot under your left leg, to the outer side of your left hip. Now, place your left leg over the right leg with the foot flat on the floor, and the knee pointing towards the ceiling. Support the pose by gripping the floor with the fingers of the left hand. The right elbow should be resting on the left knee, and pointing in the upward direction. This pose gives a proper twist to your abdominal muscles and stimulates the digestive organs.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The Cobra Pose helps strengthen the abdomen and relieve stress. It exerts essential pressure on the adrenal glands and aids proper blood circulation in the entire body, which, in turn, helps digestion.
To Get into the Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach and place your palms on the floor besides the pectoral muscles. Now, while inhaling, lift your head and chest until the arms stretch completely in an upright position. Hold the pose for a few seconds, and lower the body slowly to the floor while exhaling.
Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)
This pose helps calm down the nervous system and normalize blood circulation. If performed after a large meal, the pose can help relieve gastric cramps and prevent constipation.
To Get into the Reclining Hero Pose
Begin with the Virasana Pose, in which your buttocks are rested on the floor between your heels, and your hands are placed on the thighs. From here, move your hands back until you can rest on your forearms. If you feel no discomfort in this position, you can move your hands further back, till you are resting on your back. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds with your back off the floor.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The Corpse Pose is a simple but effective pose used to relieve constipation. It relaxes every part of the body after a rigorous yoga session. After performing the above postures to stimulate the digestive system, it is important to perform this pose to relax the digestive organs.
To Get into the Corpse Pose
Lie on your back with your legs spread a little apart from each other. Place your arms at your sides with the palms facing up and fingers curled naturally. Close your eyes, inhale deeply, and hold your breath while clenching the jaws and fists, pursing the lips, wrinkling the forehead, tightening the abdomen and curling the toes. After 5-10 seconds, exhale, and relax all the muscles at once.
Other Yoga Poses for Constipation Relief
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
- Breathing Exercises (Pranayam)
- Forward Bending Pose (Uttanasana)
- Reclining Cobbler's Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Hero Pose (Virasana)
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
To help prevent digestive problems, you can practice the Vajrasana Pose (Diamond Pose) after lunch and dinner every day. Sitting in the Vajrasana Pose for at least half an hour after a meal will lessen the occurrence of excessive gas in the alimentary canal and help prevent constipation.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.