If it’s rumors of embarrassing farts that are holding you back from trying yoga, help with your digestion might be exactly why you need to unfurl your mat. Certain yoga stretches may help with constipation and regularity, gastroenterologist Saurabh Sethi told Fatherly, because the compression and massaging effects of some poses can stimulate blood flow in your digestive organs.
“Yoga is one of the best natural ways to manage constipation,” he says. “If one is suffering from constipation, they may want to try to include yoga in their daily practice along with dietary modification like increasing fiber and water intake.” Here are a few poses to try:
Downward Facing Dog
This basic pose stimulates digestion by compressing your gut, stimulating blood flow in your abdominal organs, and relaxing the GI tract, Sethi says. Start on your hands and knees, with knees below your hips, hands below your shoulders, fingers pointing directly forward, and your palms pressing down. Then, ideally while exhaling, tuck your toes, and extend your legs and arms while pushing your pelvis in the air. This will create an A-shape. While keeping your hands in place, continue to press the floor away, looking between your legs, and tucking your stomach towards your navel.
Similar to downward facing dog, this pose will contract your organs and increase blood flow, but it’s slightly easier to get into and far more relaxing. Start off on your hands and knees, but this time rest your butt on your thighs, with your knees apart and your body and arms extending across the floor. Resting your chest between your thighs and forehead on the ground, press back on your hands like in downward facing dog, but this time push your weight into your legs. Ta-da! Prepare to poop.
Unlike many yoga poses that are about holding the stretch, the cat-cow requires you to oscillate between positions 10 to 20 times, which is guaranteed to push that poop button. With your hands and knees on the ground, create a table-top position with your body. Drop your stomach towards the ground, while arching your back as if it were smiling, lift your chin and chest towards the ceiling, and broaden your shoulder blades. This is the cow (and it feels like it). Then, curve your stomach into your spine and round your back towards the ceiling. You should now look something like a pissed-off cat.
Wind Relieving Pose
This pose is known for being so effective at stimulating the bowels that yogis actually named it after farts. Trust the experts. While lying on your back facing the ceiling, bring one knee to your chest, and your nose to your knee. Release your head to the ground while pulling your knee into your chest and stomach. Switch legs doing the same thing on the other side, before doing it with both legs at the same time. Bending both knees, press both legs into your stomach, so you look like a flatulent ball.
Other Poses For Very Stubborn Bowels
Supine Twist: Lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Extend your left leg straight and your right arm to your right side with, perpendicular to your body, with your palm facing down. Place your left hand on your right knee and drop it to the left side or your body, while keeping your left hip steady on the floor. Finally, look towards your right hand completing the poop-friendly twist, which may have been what Chubby Checker was singing about. Repeat on both sides.
Matsyasana Twist: A less degrading take on the Supine Twist.
Crescent Lunge Twist: Start in a lunge with your bent knee at 90-degrees and the toes of your straight leg facing straight ahead. Place your hands into prayer, rotate your chest towards your bent leg, hooking the opposite elbow and twist, while keeping your hips straight. Repeat on both sides.
Chair Pose: Standing straight up, raise both arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Keeping extending your arms as you bend your knees with your back straight and thighs parallel to the floor. Then, bring your hands together in prayer, and twist as you did in the Crescent Lunge.
Standing Forward Bend: Stand up straight, then bend forward at the hips, keeping your knees slightly bent as well. Lengthen your torso and bend your elbows, holding each elbow with the opposite hand. Press the balls of your feet into the floor and let your head hang down. Continue to lengthen your torso and push your feet down while bringing your stomach into your spine.
And Finally, The Squatty Potty Position
The Yogi Squat makes use of the same theory as squatty potty — your GI tract doesn’t like it when you sit, and would prefer if you’d squat. To get into the position, sit on the floor at a right angle with your legs out straight, then bend each leg, bringing your calves to the back of your thighs and pointing your knees to the ceiling. Lean forward and gently raise your seat into a squat.
“The colon also has an outlet valve, in the form of the puborectalis muscle at the rectum. In the sitting position, the rectum is maintained in the closed position,” Sethi notes. “In the squatting position, the puborectalis muscle relaxes its grip on the rectum to straighten the pathway to the anus.”