Doing yoga brings with it a wealth of physical benefits, including increased flexibility and strength, cardio health and weight reduction.
But for people with digestive illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, yoga can have another benefit. There are a few simple yoga postures and breathing exercises designed to help overcome some of the symptoms of Crohn’s and colitis while improving overall digestive health.
Read on to learn more about yoga for Crohn’s and colitis patients.
We realize that you might be new to yoga. If that’s the case, it’s OK to start slow. Some yoga sequences can last for 45 minutes, but it’s OK to begin with a 20-minute practice run. You’ll need a durable yoga mat (and not just any exercise mat, but one designed for yoga).
Once you’re ready to get started, here are six yoga asanas to help you deal with digestive issues.
1. Bhujanga Asana (Cobra Pose)
Start by laying on your stomach, your hands at your side. Keep your feet close together, with your chin on the floor. Take a deep breath, then lift your chin, head, shoulders and chest above the ground.
At the same time, bring your arms close to your chest, palms down. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then slowly move back to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat for three rounds.
2. Paschimottan Asana (Seated Forward Bend)
Start by sitting on your mat with your legs stretched in front of you. Inhale deeply, lift your arms above your head, and slowly bend forward as you exhale, stretching your back and trying to hold your feet with your hands.
Keep your head down, holding the pose for 20-30 seconds. You can keep a rolled towel under your knees to relieve strain. Return to the starting position while inhaling. Repeat this exercise until you’ve completed three rounds.
3. The Cat Pose
Get on your hands and knees, with your back curved upwards and your head bent down toward your navel. Take a deep breath, curve your back downwards, pushing your abdomen toward the floor, with your head lifted and looking straight.
Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, exhale and come back to the starting position. Once again, repeat this until you’ve done three rounds.
4. Ardh Matsyendra Asana (Half Spinal Twist Pose)
Sit down with your legs stretched in front of you. Lift your left leg, placing the foot under your hip. Fold the right leg and cross it over the left with your foot stretched out, flat on the floor.
Wrap your left arm over the right leg, and twist your spine, taking your right arm behind your back. Twist your neck to look backwards, and hold this pose for 30 seconds. Relax, return to the starting position, and then repeat with the opposite direction.
5. Kapalbhati Pranayama
Sit in a cross-legged position, with your spine, neck and shoulders straight. Take a deep breath, expanding your abdomen. Then breathe out, pulling in your stomach. Keep breathing in and out while pushing your belly in and out with each inhale and exhale. Do it for 20-30 breaths, gradually increasing the strokes to 100.
6. Shava Asana
Our yoga for Crohn’s and colitis list concludes with this exercise to help you relax. Lie on your back, with your arms at your side, palms upward, feet 12 inches apart from each other. Relax your neck and shoulders, close your eyes and breathe normally. After 15-20 minutes, open your eyes and get up.
For more information on how exercise helps people deal with Crohn’s and colitis, be sure to read our blog. And then visit the Proper Nutrition product page, where you’ll find protein supplements designed to lessen symptoms of digestive disorders.