10 Effective Yoga Poses to Relief IBS Symptoms

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that can affect people of any age and gender. It includes symptoms like abdominal cramps, bloating, abnormal bowel movement, constipation, and diarrhea.

Can yoga cure IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

Yes, yoga helps in combatting IBS because it improves mind-body coordination. Since in IBS, the stomach-brain connection becomes the most vulnerable, hence yoga is a sure-shot practice for its treatment.

Iyengar yoga, a modern style of yoga practiced using props, has shown positive results in curing 51 young IBS patients in just 6 weeks training program 1. The specific Iyengar yoga style emphasis on alignment which lets people suffering from IBS hold the pose without strain or fear of injury.

Moreover, stretching and twisting of the abdomen with awareness help alleviate distention and pain in the abdomen 2. Some specific yogic practices such as Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock) and Kriyas like Basti (colon cleansing), Agnisara, and Viparita Karani are considered very helpful for IBS patients.

Besides this, yoga benefits the patients of IBS in the following manner:

  • Yoga poses enhance the blood circulation around the gut and strengthen the digestive organs and glands. It prevents the chemical imbalance within the gut and helps in proper digestion. A 2017 study 3 on the effect of various Yogasana on the digestive system proves the same.
  • The restorative yoga poses relieve all kinds of stress and anxiety which are both causes as well as prominent triggers for IBS.
  • Practicing yoga also helps in regulating the proper hormonal secretion required for proper digestion.
  • It also increases mindfulness and gets control over unhealthy eating habits or lifestyle choices that might deteriorate the digestive system.

Practice These 10 Yoga Poses for IBS Relief

A compilation of 10 yoga poses for IBS has been documented in this section. Practice them regularly to get enhanced benefits and keep gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, IBS, and associated symptoms at bay.

1. Wind-relieving Pose – Apanasana

apanasana practice guide
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It is practiced lying down in the back and hugging the knees by drawing them to the chest and wrapping the arms around them.

When wind-relieving pose is practiced, the abdominals are squeezed, and the intestines are massaged. It helps in facilitating better digestion and eliminating excessive gas which often traps in the digestive system of IBS sufferers.

Procedure

  • Lie down on your back keeping your arms by the sides.
  • Bend your knees and draw them towards your chest pressing the thighs against the abdomen.
  • Wrap your arms around the shins and lift your head and chest off the floor bringing the chin to knees.
  • Start rocking up and down or side-to-side in this pose.

2. Gate Pose – Parighasana

Parighasana (Gate Pose Yoga)
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Gate pose is practiced bringing one knee to the floor and extending the other leg towards the respective side with the heel touching the floor. It is followed by stretching the torso sideways leaning towards the extended leg.

This brings a lateral stretch involved in gate pose makes it the best yoga pose for IBS as it stimulates the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and large intestine. It increases blood circulation to all the digestive organs and helps in removing wastes from the body.

Procedure

  • Begin with kneeling tall on the floor keeping the knees hip-width apart and lengthening the spine.
  • Exhale to stretch the right leg out to the right straightening the knee.
  • Keep the right foot in line with left knee.
  • Flexing right ankle point your toes to the ceiling and bring your heel to the floor.
  • Place your right palm of the side of the right thigh.
  • Inhale extend your right arm towards the ceiling passing through the ear.
  • Exhale and bend laterally towards the right leg dragging the right hand towards the toes.
  • Inhale opening the chest, turn it towards the ceiling, then exhale to turn the head to look up.
  • Hold this stretch for 5-10 breaths.

3. Garland Pose – Malasana

malasana
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Garland pose is one of the common yoga poses for IBS or other digestive issues. It is practiced as a deep squat bending the knees over the ankles and hovering the hips above the floor.

The stance assumed in garland pose compresses the abdomen and prepares the body for easy elimination process and relieving symptoms of IBS like constipation.

Procedure

  • Take a stance keeping the feet mat-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and lower your hips towards the floor into a deep squat.
  • Keep heels firm on the ground and knee bent over the ankles.
  • Join your palms in prayer pose in front of the chest.
  • Keep your upper arms pressed against the inside of the knees opening the hips.

4. Bow Pose – Dhanurasana

dhanurasana
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Bow pose is assumed lying down in the prone position and from there lifting the legs, head, and chest off the floor. The body in this posture is balanced only on the core.

Assuming this pose, stretches the abdominal muscles intensely and enhances their strength which aids in relieving constipation. It also involves back-bending which helps in relieving stress or anxiety. Hence, this pose is suitable as yoga for IBS and anxiety.

Procedure

  • Lie down on your belly keeping the arms by the sides.
  • Bend your knees to take your feet towards the hips.
  • Extend your arms backward to grab the feet with hands.
  • Inhale to lift your head, chest, and shoulders off the floor.
  • Simultaneously, pull the legs towards the head keeping only the belly pressing against the floor.
  • Hold it for three deep breaths and then release. Repeat it two more times.

5. Sitting Half-Spinal Twist – Ardha Matsyendrasana

ardha matsyendrasana 3
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It is assumed by sitting crossing the legs as such the left foot lies near the right buttock and right foot outside the left knee. This is followed by twisting the torso on the right side using hands as a lever to increase the twist.

Ardha matsyendrasana pose twists the spine stimulating the nervous system specifically the vagus nerve. It facilitates the proper functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system which aids in better digestion. Also, the abdominal organs are squeezed and when released get enhanced blood flow, bloating due to IBS is also relieved practicing this pose.

Procedure

  • Sit extending the legs in front and keeping the back erect.
  • Lift your right leg bending the knee to place the right foot outside the left knee.
  • Flex the left knee on the floor to bring the left foot near the right buttock.
  • Bend your right elbow to bring it outer side of the right knee.
  • Pressing the right knee with the left arm reach the right ankle with the hand.
  • Place your left hand behind you on the floor and twist the torso towards right.
  • Turn your neck to look beyond the right shoulder enhancing the stretch.

6. Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana

cobra pose bikram yoga
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Cobra Pose is practiced lying on the belly and lifting the head, chest, and abdomen off the floor pressing the palms on the floor on either side of the chest.

It stretches the abdominals intensely, improves blood flow towards the digestive system. It is therapeutic in relieving constipation and releases intestinal gas. This stretching of the abdominal muscles strengthens them and also promotes better digestion, thus cure IBS.

Procedure

  • Lie down in prone position keeping the arms by the sides and legs extended backwards.
  • Bending your elbows, place your palms on the either sides of the chest on the floor.
  • Inhale pressing the palms on the floor and squeezing the elbows together lift your head, chest, and abdomen off the floor.
  • Arching the back drop your head backwards opening the chest fully.
  • Hold this pose for three to five breaths and then release.

7. Reclining Abdominal Twist – Jathara Parivartanasana

jathara parivartanasana
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Practice reclining abdominal twist by lying on your back twisting the torso to one side bending the corresponding knee and lowering it to the alternate side on the floor.

It squeezes the abdominal cavity, promotes blood circulation, and aids in the peristalsis motion of the intestines. Hence, it facilitates better digestion and serves as an excellent yoga for IBS treatment.

Procedure

  • Lie down on your back extending the legs and arms.
  • Bend your right knee and squeeze to it the chest clasping the hands around shin.
  • Release the right hand and extend the right arm at the shoulder level with palm facing the floor.
  • Place your right foot behind the left inner thigh. Guide your right knee towards the floor passing over the left leg subtly pressing the left hand on the right knee.
  • Turn your neck and torso to the right gazing the extended fingertips on the floor.
  • Relax here for three to five breaths and exhale to release. Repeat it on the left side, switching the legs and arms position.

8. Triangle Pose – Trikonasana

Triangle-Pose
Image: canva

It is a standing posture involving side-bending of the torso towards one leg and extending the corresponding arm to reach the foot. The other arm remains stretched overhead and the torso is twisted to look up.

This pose stretches the digestive organs, keeps the core muscles engaged, and promotes digestion. Also, it opens the chest, enhances lung capacity, improves breathing that relieves psychological stress. Hence, triangle pose can be practiced for IBS.

Procedure

  • Stand separating the legs wide apart and arms by the sides.
  • Turn your left foot 90° outwards and right foot slightly inwards.
  • Spread your arms outwards at the shoulder level.
  • Inhale and exhale while bending the torso sideways over the left foot with the left arm reaching the floor beside the foot.
  • The right arm extends upwards with fingertips pointing towards ceiling.
  • Turn your head to look towards the raised fingertips.
  • Stay in this pose for up to 60 seconds then inhale to come up. Repeat the same on the other side.

9. Downward-facing Dog Pose

downward facing dog pose | adho mukha Svanasana
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In downward-facing dog, the torso is bent forward in an inversion while the legs also remain on the floor engaging the core muscles. In final position of this pose, the body looks like an inverted-V stretching the legs, arms, and spine.

This pose stretches and tones the abdominal muscles improving their efficiency. It is also an inversion that brings fresh oxygen to the brain which provides this pose calming benefits. This pose overall helps in treating IBS easily.

Procedure

  • Begin with coming to all fours and spread your fingers wide apart.
  • As you exhale, lift your knees off the floor, raising the hips and tailbone.
  • Straightening the legs and arms push your hips back to bring the heels to the floor.
  • Lengthen the spine and lower the head between the arms and gaze towards the navel.
  • Hold this pose breathing normally for one to three minutes.

10. Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana

paschimottanasana
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Seated forward bend is a pose that is assumed sitting on the floor extending the legs in front and reaching forward overlapping the abdomen over the thighs.

It stretches the digestive glands, organs, and contracts the abdominal muscles. It relieves overall symptoms of IBS including bloating, cramping, and even constipation.

Procedure

  • Sit extending the legs in front and keeping the back straight.
  • Inhale raise the arms overhead and exhale to lean forward maintain the back integrity.
  • Try to hold the toes with the hands and bring the forehead to the shins.
  • Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds or more if comfortably possible.

What causes IBS?

The major cause responsible for IBS is the misinterpretation of brain signals for the digestive system. In response to this, overreaction occurs within the digestive system to the normal digestive process leading to pain, diarrhea, constipation, etc.

Stress and anxiety are also two significant psychological factors that cause the release of certain chemicals within the gut. These chemicals deteriorate the muscle contraction of the gut which is sufficient to induce IBS.

Another cause could be microbial infection, as if you suffering from severe diarrhea caused by a bacteria or virus, then the microbes multiply vigorously within the intestines. It can also develop the symptoms of IBS.

Hormonal imbalances or unhealthy eating habits also upset the digestive system and make it susceptible to such a gastrointestinal disorder.

Conclusion

Wave a good bye to all your digestive troubles with this yoga for IBS practice guide. It will lead you towards a healthy lifestyle providing you a healthy digestive and efficient nervous system.

Therefore, practice these poses everyday to get relieve from all the symptoms you have been fighting against. By facilitating proper digestion and eliminating symptoms of IBS, it also prevents you from other diseases as well.

References

  1. Evans S, Cousins L, Tsao JC, Sternlieb B, Zeltzer LK. Protocol for a randomized controlled study of Iyengar yoga for youth with irritable bowel syndrome. Trials. 2011;12:15. Published 2011 Jan 18. doi:10.1186/1745-6215-12-15 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033835/
  2. Kavuri V, Raghuram N, Malamud A, Selvan SR. Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Yoga as Remedial Therapy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:398156. doi:10.1155/2015/398156 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438173/
  3. Sneha A. Tayade & Vaishali D. Bhosale: Effect Of Yogasana On Digestive System. International Ayurvedic Medical Journal {online} 2017 {cited March, 2017} http://www.iamj.in/posts/2017/images/upload/727_733.pdf

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