Traveling through exotic locales and battling the effects of unfamiliar foods and digestive disorders, writer Barbara Kaplan Herring turned to yoga for relief. Doubled over in pain and with little access to a drugstore, you too could be inspired to find other ways to deal with bloating and gas. According to Herring’s "Yoga Journal" article, “Gut Feelings," she learned about ayurveda, a medicinal discipline founded in India thousands of years ago. Ayuveda recognizes “agni,” or fire in the belly, and the health of your digestive system. Various yoga poses are thought by practitioners to restore calm and order to your stomach and intestines.
Releasing Trapped Gas
If you're experiencing flatulence, try One-Legged Wind-Relieving pose, which lives up to its name. Lie supine with your legs together and fully extended. Draw your knee up to your torso, hugging it to your chest. If you’re limber, try and bring your nose to your raised knee. On the exhalation, return your leg to the floor. Perform five reps on either side. By combining pressure and warmth from your lifted leg, the pose will help you to release trapped gas.
Calming the Stomach
By doing poses that calm your abdomen, you can relieve pain from bloating. For example, in Supported Child’s pose, or Salamba Balasana, kneel on the floor and draw a bolster between your thighs. Add a blanket to the bolster, bend forward from your hips and lie on the cushion with your arms resting by your sides. In the Reclining Bound Angle pose, or Sputa Baddaha Konasana, lie face up in front of a bolster. Again, add blankets to the bolster to lift your head, upper body and diaphragm. Bring the soles of your feet together. Put a bolster under each of your thighs as well as an eye bag over your eyes. Massage your belly with your fingers, threading up your right side and moving across the abdomen. Continue down your left side, relieving tense spots and helping any gas bubbles to pass out of your body.
Extending the Abdomen
Poses that extend your abdomen and raise your diaphragm can take the pressure off a bloated belly. For example, in Seated Forward Bend, or Paschimottanasana, place a rolled blanket in the crease of your hips as you bend forward in a seated position. By gently stretching your belly, the movement will warm up the front of your body and help to release gas. Similarly, perform a supported back bend over a bolster. Use the type of bend that you’re most comfortable with and that proves most effective for pain relief.
Massaging the Intestines
A yoga twist naturally massages your digestive tract. The movement is similar to gently wringing a towel. You can perform a relaxed twist sitting on a chair. With your feet flat and parallel on the floor, hold both sides of the chair back. On the inhalation, stretch your body a notch higher. As you exhale, twist your trunk a notch, starting from the abdomen and working your way up through your chest, neck and head. Continue to raise your body and twist notch by notch as far as is comfortable.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.