How Can Yoga Help Constipation?

Many people who suffer from chronic constipation keep on searching for cures to their problem. Their bodies get immune to the effect of over-the-counter laxatives and constantly changing dietary habits and the search only leads to stronger and stronger medications. Chronic constipation can lead to a range of other conditions which include abdominal distention and cramps, bloating, loss of appetite, hemorrhoids, fissures, fistulas, and may even lead to cancer.

The most common cause of constipation is poor dietary habits. Inadequate intake of dietary fiber is the biggest culprit in this regard. People who eat few fruits and vegetables and who eat a preponderance of meat and junk food are often prone to becoming constipated. Dietary fiber provides bulk and is essential to the passage of stools. For this reason it is important to eat at least 3 to 5 helpings of vegetables and fruits every day.

Another common cause of constipation is drinking inadequate quantities of water. Water is essential to prevent the hardening of stools in the intestines and to facilitate their passage. Age too can be a factor. Many old people face the problem of chronic constipation despite an adequate intake of dietary fiber and water. Age decreases the ability of the muscles of the large intestine to push the stools out.

Of all the remedies for constipation, yoga is one natural method that can help in even the most stubborn and chronic cases. There are many yoga poses or asanas that are excellent remedies for constipation. In addition, they also benefit the practitioner in numerous other ways, helping improve overall physical as well as mental and emotional health.

Yoga poses help by physically impacting the large intestine and helping to push the stools downwards and out through the rectum.  Any yoga posture that involves bending and compressing the lower abdominal muscles and the large intestine will facilitate the passage of stools. The practice of yoga should also be accompanied by the appropriate dietary changes in order to ease chronic constipation.

Some of the yoga poses that help relieve constipation include:

  • Virasana or Hero’s Pose – This pose helps to improve digestion. You have to kneel on a yoga mat and slowly lower your body while keeping your back erect so that your buttocks are resting between the heels of your feet. Sit in this manner for at least 20minutes. This asana should be performed after a meal to aid digestion.
  • Adho Mukha Virasana or Downward Facing Hero’s Pose – From the virasana position, raise your hands above your head while keeping your elbows straight and your thumbs together. Slowly bend forward from the waist till your forehead and the palms of your hand are touching the floor. Maintain this pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
  • Pavanmuktasana or Gas Releasing Pose – This pose is good for all types of digestive disorders including constipation. Lie down on your back and bend both knees. Lock your hands around them and slowly bring the knees backwards towards your chest. Your thighs should touch your abdomen. Raise your head up till your forehead touches your knees. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat 3 to 4 times.
  • Paschimottanasana or Back Spine Stretching Pose – This pose helps to improve digestion and ease constipation. It also helps to tone the spine. Sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you. Straighten your arms and slowly bend forwards till your hands touch your toes. Holding your big toes continue to bend and lower your head until your forehead touches your knees.
There are many other yoga asanas that can help relieve constipation. It is recommended that you seek to join a yoga class and learn these different asanas under the tutelage of an experienced yoga instructor.