Irritable bowel syndrome – the symptoms can be excruciating and certainly disruptive on a day to day basis. Worse, once the dreaded cramps and bloating begins, you know that you are likely to be in for days of covering up your tummy and feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Often, IBS and other such conditions can seem a little embarrassing and few people feel comfortable talking about their problematic digestive problems. Often this is a condition that people hug to themselves, either trying to ignore it, or, turning to well-known pharmaceutical medicines in desperation.
It’s known that there is a link between the mind and the digestive tract, so stress and feelings of depression and anxiety are likely triggers to make any existing condition or symptoms much worse. IBS sufferers experience a cycle of bloating, constipation, gas and diarrhea and for those who suffer it more severely; it can make socializing difficult and even the thought of eating can be off-putting. There are often long waiting lists to be able to assess if there is an actual and visible problem, but for IBS, there is often little or no signs of any stomach, intestinal or colon damage. It does however seem that the digestive tract becomes hyper-sensitive and can react negatively to certain food types, anxieties or even mood.
It’s known that the digestive tract has millions of nerve cells which receives important information from the brain in relation to your emotional and physical well-being. It is likely therefore that some symptoms or aggressive bouts of IBS could be alleviated through stress management and yoga and conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease could also be improved.
The key to success is to adopt a regular yoga practice but to add in some additional postures more regularly that work positively on the abdominal area as in the following postures:
Bridge Pose - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The bridge pose is wonderful for helping to ease symptoms of depression and stress. It aids good sleep pattern, reduces anxieties, it stimulates the abdominal organs, improves digestion and is useful to help improve the function of the thyroid gland boosting metabolic rate. There are many other benefits but it helps to reduce tension in the neck as it stretches the spine, neck and chest area and even calms the mind essential for those who suffer with anxieties.
Wind Relieving Pose – Pawanmuktaana
To help alleviate symptoms of wind and bloating, this simple but effective posture can massage the intestines, aid digestion and easily relieve trapped wind. The posture also helps to strengthen the back and abdominals while toning leg and arm muscles.
Camel Pose – Ustrasana
Ustrasana is a powerful pose that can help to alleviate anxiety and extreme fatigue as well as to aid menstrual problems. Because it opens up the chest and lungs, it’s also useful for those with respiratory problems.
Child Pose – Balasana
This is a relaxing pose which helps to alleviate intense tiredness and stress. Avoid when diarrhea is present. It stretches the thighs, hips and ankles while relieving any stiffness in the back and neck. (Support head if neck pain is experienced.)
Regular yoga may also help to restore feelings of normality within the gut, so it pays to incorporate these postures into your daily practice session. When you are putting together a sequence of postures consider that some of the seated twists or prone backbends will gently add pressure to the organs, while twists and side-bending postures will help to release any tension in the abdomen area. You are aiming for gentle but rotating feelings of release and then pressure which will help to soothe the stomach. Don’t forget to add in some abdominal breathing as this will massage your inner organs relaxing your lower abdominals and improving the flow of blood.
Follow up the session by adopting the corpse posture and engage in an anxiety reducing meditation for 15-20 minutes. Yoga is all about being mindful and working with your body and mind, learning just what works for you, so make every breath and every movement count.
Yogasync me! For a complete sync full of IBS and overall digestion helping poses, try this sequence featuring supported backbends, twists, and more!