Yoga for Digestion

June 20, 2024

Whether you are an experienced yogi or have never stepped on the mat before, you might find benefits from yoga beyond a physical workout. Yoga may help some with digestion and gut health.

In this blog post, we will explore how yoga can enhance gut health, the science behind the gut-brain connection, and practical yoga poses to support a healthy digestive system.

The Gut-Brain Connection

Our nervous system is made up of the parts – the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), the Sympathetic Nervous System, and the Enteric Nervous System (ENS).

The PNS is our “rest and digest” nervous system, which is primarily facilitated by the vagus system. The SNS is also known as our fight/flight/freeze response and is responsible for our stress response. The ENS is the nervous system in our GI tract. The ENS controls GI motility, digestive secretions, and nutrient absorption. The gut also lets the brain know about foreign invaders coming into our body like bacteria, viruses, and pesticides. This is how our gut gets the nickname “the second brain”

The communication between our gut is bi-directional – the brain sends signals to the gut and the gut sends signals to the brain. Just as the ENS can regulate digestion, the PNS and SNS also impact the gut and digestion. The PNS sends more blood flow to the gut to increase muscle contractions of the GI tract, stimulate the digestive organs to release digestive juices and promote nutrient absorption. This leads to good digestion, regular bowel movements and minimal gas and bloating. On the other hand, the SNS does the opposite – it sends blood flow away from the GI tract (it sends blood flow to our heart and larger muscles). This causes slowed motility, less digestion, and absorption, constipation, gas, and bloating.

Did you know that the majority of signals go from the gut to the brain?

Yoga and the Nervous System

Yoga is an effective way to stimulate the PNS to help the body relax and promote digestion. Through a combination of breath control (pranayama), meditation, and physical postures (asanas), yoga helps calm the nervous system and reduce stress. Slower forms of yoga like Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga are especially helpful for regulating the PNS. This, in turn, supports better gut health by:

  1. Reducing Stress: Yoga lowers cortisol levels and activates the PNS, promoting a state of relaxation and improving gut motility.
  2. Enhancing Blood Flow: Certain yoga poses increase blood flow to the digestive organs, supporting nutrient absorption and overall gut function.
  3. Decreasing Gas and Bloating: Stress reduction through yoga can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and promote better food digestion and absorption which help decrease GI symptoms like gas and bloating

Yoga Poses for Digestion

Several yoga poses can specifically aid in improving digestion and promoting gut health. Here are a few effective asanas:

  1. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): This gentle flow between arching and rounding the back massages the abdominal organs and stimulates intestinal activity.
  2. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): This pose compresses the abdomen, which can help stimulate digestion and relieve constipation.
  3. Twists (Ardha Matsyendrasana): Twisting poses massage the abdominal organs, improve digestion, and detoxify the body.
  4. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): This pose increases blood flow to the digestive organs, supports liver function, and helps relieve stress.
  5. Child’s Pose (Balasana): A restorative pose that calms the mind and stimulates the PNS, promoting overall gut health.


Yoga is a powerful tool for enhancing gut health through its effects on the gut-brain connection and the nervous system. By incorporating simple yoga stretches into your routine, you can reduce stress, improve digestion, and support a healthy gut microbiome.

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We work with clients who are dedicated to changing their health. Making dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and taking supplements are part of the healing journey.