10 yoga poses that will help against irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is associated with many inconveniences: abdominal pain, gas, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation are typical symptoms. If you suffer from it, it is often very stressful, because the symptoms can severely limit your everyday life: You may be in severe pain or you are constantly looking for the next toilet. Yoga can make life with bowel disease easier for you.

In this article you will learn:

  • What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • What yoga exercises can help with irritable bowel syndrome
  • How you can improve your intestinal health in addition to yoga training

What does irritable bowel syndrome mean?

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (Colon irritabile), the functions of your bowel are disturbed. You usually notice the consequences in your bowel movements: either you have diarrhea or constipation . However, it is also possible that the condition occurs without any changes in bowel movements. In these cases, those affected mainly suffer from pain or gas, a bloated stomach or flatulence . All of these symptoms can also occur in combination with diarrhea or constipation.

Depending on which symptoms are in the foreground in the individual case , four different “irritable bowel types” are distinguished . So there is the type of constipation, type of diarrhea, type of flatulence and type of pain . The classification is not always that clear: In addition to these four main forms, so-called mixed types also occur. It also happens that one type of disease alternates with another. For example, diarrhea and constipation can occur within a day. The following symptoms occur with all four clinical pictures:

  • Bloating
  • Stool with mucus formation
  • The bowel does not seem to empty completely when defecating
  • Improvement of the discomfort after a bowel movement

No matter what type of IBS you are: Yoga can help you to significantly improve the symptoms of the disease. This has been scientifically proven. For example, a clinical study that was carried out over a period of 24 months in the USA has confirmed that the situation of irritable bowel patients can be significantly improved by doing regular yoga training. Not only the health of the patients developed positively. At the same time, the medication intake in the yoga group could be significantly reduced. So if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you should definitely try the following yoga exercises.

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Use these yoga poses to tackle irritable bowel symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome has a lot to do with stress and stress management. For this reason, these exercises focus on relaxation . The aim of the individual exercises is to achieve a relaxed and harmonizing effect and to put you in a relaxed state. These exercises differ in that other issues related to the abdomen, such as constipation or flatulence, focus on the massage effect of the abdomen or intestines.

You need a soft yoga or fitness mat, comfortable clothing and around 20 minutes to do the exercises. It is best to do the exercises two hours after your last meal – this is easy on your stomach.

Exercise 1: heel seat

  • Sit on the mat with your buttocks on your heels.
  • As you inhale, straighten your upper body, lift your buttocks off your heels and stretch your arms first up, then back. You put your head back. Your butt is tight.
  • Next, you bring your arms back and cross them in front of your chest (self-hug). As you exhale, lower your buttocks back onto your heels.
  • Repeat this exercise five times .

Exercise 2: Folded sheet / The child / Child posture

  • Sit on your heels again, big toes touching.
  • You lower your upper body forward onto your thighs. Keep your knees together and gently rest your forehead on the floor.
  • You place your arms on the side of your body. You let your shoulder blades fall apart, the backs of your hands point towards the ground.
  • Inhale and exhale deeply and calmly and hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Then you slowly straighten up again.
  • Repeat this exercise four to six times . 

Exercise 3: shoulder bridge

  • Lie on your back on the mat and pull both legs together. Stand up with your feet and palms down on the floor.
  • As you inhale, lift your pelvis off the floor. It is important that you perform this movement very slowly: vertebra by vertebra from bottom to top up to the shoulders.
  • As you exhale, lay your back on the floor from top to bottom again, vertebra by vertebra, and at the very end you put your pelvis down.
  • Repeat this exercise four to six times as well .
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Exercise 4: The sleeping diamond

  • Gently lean back from your heel seat (Exercise 1), placing your hands behind your heels bit by bit. Carefully bend your arms and walk over your forearms into a comfortable supine position. Push your arms as far behind your head as possible.
  • It is particularly important that you tense your abdominal muscles in this position . In this way you can “close” the lower costal arch. You should lie as flat as possible on the floor, which requires a lot of mobility, especially in the front leg muscles of your thighs.

Exercise 5: the pliers

  • Sit on your bottom with both legs closed and stretched out in front of you on the floor.
  • Slowly walk your hands into your heels or ankles. You move your upper body slowly towards the thigh.
  • If you are already a little more flexible, you can grab your toes or put your head on your legs.
  • As you move forward, you exhale slowly and in a controlled manner. Hold the stretch for 1 to 2 minutes .

Exercise 6: the camel

  • Get on your knees. From this position, you lean back carefully with full abdominal tension.
  • Gently push back or reach for a raise.
  • Push your chin back and align your cervical spine. The thighs and hips are pressed forward during the exercise, creating a kind of square.
  • It is important that the position is created over the spine and not over your hips!
  • Hold the figure for a minute or two.

Exercise 7: cat and cow

  • Two positions alternate in this position .
  • First, get into the cat’s position and make a cat hump.
  • To do this, you stand in a four-footed position and hang your head.
  • Make your back completely round and pull your belly button inwards.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and switch to the cow’s position as you inhale.
  • Now stretch the spine in the opposite direction and straighten the cervical spine. The cow is the opposite of the cat. Breathe in deeply and in a controlled manner.
  • The focus in this position is on the thoracic spine and the rib joints. You should feel an urge to stretch in your upper back.

Exercise 9: forward bend

  • Stand upright with your hands around the muscles of your thighs.
  • Your hands slowly descend to your calves as your torso flexes. Take a deep breath in and out.
  • Hold this position for a minute or two . Then move your hands back to their starting position with a deep breath.

Exercise 10: back swing

  • Lie on your back on the mat and pull both legs towards your upper body .
  • Embrace both legs with your arms and slowly swing from right to left. The back swing is an ideal way to end the previous training units. It can also be used in between to loosen up the muscles.

What else to do about an irritated bowel

Changing your diet is an essential part of the fight against irritable bowel syndrome . Current studies assume that a diet that avoids so-called FODMAPS is particularly gentle on the intestines. Dr. Sue Shepherd from Monash University researched and developed the low-FODMAP diet in this context  . It is primarily about types of sugar that are difficult to digest in the intestines of those affected   the so-called fermentable carbohydrates. This diet, which initially relies on an elimination phase and, in a second step, on the reintroduction of FODMAP-containing foods , has already helped many irritable bowel patients.

In addition to a change in diet, psychotherapy can also provide relief. In many IBS sufferers, there is a psychosomatic cause for the syndrome .

Yoga for irritable bowel syndrome

Yoga can make the life of IBS sufferers a lot easier. Scientific studies have confirmed this several times. In order for the positive effect of the individual yoga training units to be effective, regular training and perseverance are required: The effects on the intestines do not show up overnight, but rather unfold their effect primarily in terms of durability . It can make sense not to start with the full program straight away, but to incorporate the individual exercises step by step into everyday life. Give it a try and start today with our training program for better intestinal health and a healthy body feeling!

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