When it comes to managing IBS, most people may not realize that yoga can be as effective as low-FODMAP foods. According to a study published a few years ago from AP&T Journal, both yoga and a low-FODMAP diet can reduce certain GI symptoms.
To understand exactly why, the editors of IBS Life recently talked with Erika Lowerr, a yoga instructor in Chicago. Lowerr, who has been teaching yoga for several years explains how certain poses can improve the body’s digestive process.
“Deep breathing promotes a sense of calmness, which can relieve stress,” she said. “Certain yoga poses that encourage stretching, twists, and core can increase blood flow and activate different systems. It’s like giving your internal organs a massage,” noted Lowerr.
Lowerr, who has recently taught a yoga class in partnership with Lifeway Kefir, recommended five yoga poses that individuals can try to ease IBS symptoms. The poses should be held for three to five breaths and should be done when actively experiencing the symptoms.
To Relieve Gas
Wind Relieving Pose
The “wind relieving pose” is actually a specific pose for gas relief. To do this, lay on your back and draw one or both knees to your abdomen and bring the head inward. This pose will cause you to pass gas during the process.
To Reduce Bloating
A great pose for bloating is the "bridge pose" which helps open up the abdomen. Start by laying down on your back with your knees bent. Then, press down through [your feet, to lift the hips and raise your abdomen].
To Relieve Abdominal Pain
Seated Spinal Twist
Lie down on your back. Begin with your feet next to each other and lift your left knee so that it is parallel to the floor and then place your right arm on the outside of the raised left knee, draw your left knee across your body. Complete the twist by extending your left arm out to the side, and follow your gaze. Repeat the movement with the right side.
To Ease Constipation
Revolved Crescent Pose
The revolved crescent pose can help get things moving in your gut. Lunge your right knee forward 90 degrees, ensuring that your knee is directly over your heel. Then, lift your back knee off the ground and shift your weight to the ball of your left foot. Move your hips so they are parallel with your mat. Bring your arms to your chest in a prayer position and twist your body to have your left elbow meet your right side. Repeat with the left side.
To Decrease Stress
An easy pose to help with stress relief is the forward bend. Start by standing with your feet right next to each other. Then, bend at the waist and fold your torso towards your legs. Try to keep your knees straight and have your fingers touch the floor in front of you or have your hands grasp your elbows.
The study from the AP&T Journal points out that while both a low-FODMAP diet and yoga may benefit people with IBS, more research needs to be done to determine just exactly how these reduce IBS symptoms. For now, the health benefit that comes with yoga occurs when it’s done on a regular basis. Just remember to talk with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.
In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about different yoga poses, follow Erika Lowerr on Instagram @chitownomie.