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Best yoga poses to beat the bloat

It's true. Certain yoga poses can help you to release air.

We all get hit with digestive discomfort from time to time. To find some natural relief, look to the centuries-old practice of yoga to help stretch those belly muscles and kick-start the digestive system. Here are eight exercises that will help ease bloating, indigestion, and gas.

  1. Knees-to-chest: Aptly known as “the wind-relieving pose,” this simple move delivers when it comes to relieving digestive woes. By bringing the knees to the chest you can soothe your stomach by improving digestion to release the buildup of gas. Start by lying flat on your back, and as you exhale, bend the knees and slowly bring them into your chest, hugging your legs into your body. From here, you can gently rock from side to side, raise your chin toward your knees, or alternate bringing your knees to your chest one leg at a time. Hold for up to one minute.

  2. Cat-Cow: A favourite feel-good move to relieve pressure in the back, chest, and neck, this pose works to reduce bloating by stretching and contracting the abdomen. Start in a table top position. Wrists below shoulders and hips above knees.. As you inhale, take your gaze and tailbone to the sky, as your belly drops towards the mat. As you exhale, round the head and tailbone down, creating a deep arch with your back. Try this combo around eight to 10 times, or as needed throughout the day.

  3. Child’s Pose: Child’s Pose is known as a “grounding pose,” and one you can always come back to relieve pain associated with bloating by applying pressure to the lower abdomen. To find Child’s Pose, start in table top. Take your knees out wide, and bring your toes to touch, as you sit back on your heels. Bending at the waist, rest your forehead gently on the mat, and keep your arms by your sides or reach them out in front of you and slowly crawl your fingers forward, stretching as far as is comfortably possible.

  4. Standing Forward Fold: This yoga pose works to relieve bloating by warming up the belly to promote circulation, helping those digestive juices flow. Fold forward at the waist, bending your knees and rest your upper body on the top of your thighs while maintaining a straight spine. Place your hands on the floor, or even just allow them to hang, swaying gently from side to side.

  5. Seated Forward Fold: Here is a deep stretch that applies a lot of pressure to the abdominal muscles, diminishing discomfort with every breath. Seated on the floor, stretch your legs straight out in front of you, feet slightly apart. Inhale to lengthen through the spine, and exhale to fold forward at your hips like door hinge. Inhale to lift up through the crown of your head, creating even more space at your hips, to allow you to fold further forward. Keep the chest guiding towards your toes, rather than bringing your forehead to your legs to keep your back as straight as possible.

  6. Bow Pose: Lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso. Bend your knees and take hold of the outside of your feet. Inhale as you lift your chest, head, and the tops of your ribs off the floor, as well as your knees and thighs. Rock back and forth to gently massage your abdomen. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

  7. Seated Twist: Much like a wet towel, the Seated Twist works to “wring out” any air trapped within the abdomen while improving blood flow to vital organs. Start by sitting on the floor, legs outstretched. Bend the right knee and bring your right leg over the left, resting the foot just to the outside of the left thigh. Turning your torso toward your bent leg, bring the right arm around the right knee, inhale to lengthen the spine, and twist the body away from the leg. Tuck the chin in and look down at your right shoulder.

  8. Deep breathing: It sounds simple, but this is actually the most important move of them all. Yoga is all about connecting with the breath, and the simple act of deep breathing exercises can work to help reduce stress and anxiety, which some researchers believe may directly affect your digestive functions.

Bloating can be the result of simply breathing in too much air or a sign of something more serious. If you suspect you have a medical condition that needs treatment, contact a healthcare professional, but for run-of-the-mill bloating—which affects all of us at one time or another—these yoga poses may just do the trick to help give you that much-needed relief.

Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Foods that feed the gut and 4 forward fold mistakes.

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