Constipation is a digestive issue that is very uncomfortable to experience. Certain medications, eating foods such as dairy, or having a medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may cause constipation. It can produce bloating and painful bowel movements, which no one likes to experience. If constipation persists for more than a few days, it is best to see your doctor.
Constipation happens when you cannot pass a stool after a few days and feel tired and sluggish.
Yoga can help relieve constipation through postures and movements.
Some poses like wind-relieving poses are specifically made to release the colon.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Inability to have a bowel movement
- Painful passing of stool from straining too hard
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling tired or sluggish
Causes of constipation may be:
- Not enough fiber in your diet
- Lack of exercise
- Taking medication such as antidepressants, sedatives, or opioid drugs
In some cases, yoga may help relieve constipation. There are postures and yogic abdominal movements and massages that can help the digestive tract get some relief.
Here’s where to start.
Sit or lie down and massage your abdomen in a clockwise motion around the navel. This is the direction of the descending colon and will help get things moving.
Agni Sara Dhauti
This is a shatkarma, one of the six yogic cleansing techniques. It is designed to stoke the inner fire and get the digestive tract moving first thing in the morning. It is best done on an empty stomach. To perform this, stand with the feet wider than the hips in a squat. Place the hands on the knees and exhale all the air out completely. Begin to flap the abdomen quickly in and out for as long as you can hold your breath. If you feel dizzy, stop, and do not perform this exercise.
Single leg wind relieving pose
This is a very simple posture with immense benefit, as the name of the pose foretells. Lie on your back and bend one knee into your chest, holding the knee with your hands. Hold for 10 breaths, repeating this for up to five minutes, depending on your condition, then switch sides.
This is a relaxing posture and twists are always great for stimulating digestion. There is no need to have intense practice to get the bowels moving, as likely an intense practice will not feel good when you’re constipated. It is recommended to generally practice most yoga with empty bowels first thing in the morning or two hours after food consumption.
So, try this simple pose. Bend one or both knees into the chest and release them over to the right side first. Always twist to the right first, as this stimulates the descending colon of elimination. Then twist to the left to balance out both sides.
Wind relieving pose
As the name suggests, this is a surefire way to get the stomach going in an easy, passive way. Lie on your back and simply bend both knees into your chest. Hold your knees with your hands for one to five minutes in this position.
Stomach pressure with a blanket
For this pose, you will need a blanket or a large towel. Roll the blanket up like a sausage roll, and then lie over it prone (on your stomach). Place the blanket horizontally under your abdomen and above the hip bones. This pressure will help get those intestinal juices going.
If worst comes to worst, try the shatkarma (yogic cleansing) technique of basti – known today as an enema. This is easy to find at most drug stores. It involves filling a bag with warm water and inserting it through a tube into the anus. It fills the colon with water. It is best performed lying on the left side since the descending colon is on this side. When the colon is full, move to the toilet and release the water out of the colon so you can pass the stuck stool.
Constipation is an uncomfortable digestive issue that can make one feel sluggish or even sickly. Try these methods to relieve the stuck stool first before going to a doctor. It is normal to have a bowel movement at least once per day, if not at least three to five days per week. If you’re not going that many times, try these yoga exercises to see if they help with any persistent constipation or IBS. If the problem persists, see your doctor for medical intervention such as laxatives or stool softener.