You know that yoga improves your flexibility, muscle strength and helps to combat stress – bit did you know that some poses can help with digestion too? Whether you've over-eaten, feel bloated or are constipated, the right yoga position can help to get you 'moving' again.
See also: Eight ways to stay supple in middle age
1. Seated twist
"One of the best ways to ease digestion is with a simple, seated twist," according to yoga instructor and wellness expert Charlotte Singmin. The pose "wrings out" your digestive organs, as you might wring out a washcloth, and stimulates your digestion by increasing blood flow to the area. This helps digestive juices flow more easily, which means the body is better able to break down food and absorb nutrients.
In a seated position, put your right hand on the yoga mat behind you, resting on your fingertips. Then place your left hand to your right knee. Inhale to lengthen the spine and sides of the body, and exhale as you twist to look over your right shoulder. Hold the position for five slow breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
Stretching out the belly can be a good way to relieve abdominal discomfort. The cat/cow pose alternates between stretching and compressing the internal organs, which helps with gut function according to Charlotte.
Get onto all-fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees directly underneath your hips. Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat, then lift your chin and chest and look at the ceiling.
As you exhale, pull your belly toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest. Inhale, coming back into the first pose and repeat 10 times.
"The bridge pose helps to calm and refresh the body. It stretches and invigorates the abdominal muscles and stimulates metabolism," says Charlotte.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Push your feet and arms firmly into the floor, exhaling as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Pull your tailbone toward your pubic bone, holding your buttocks off the floor.
Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Clasp your hands and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis. Straighten your arms, pressing your forearms into the floor. Try to keep your thighs and feet parallel — avoid rolling to the outer edges of your feet or letting your knees drop.
Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds. To release, unclasp your hands and place them palms-down alongside your body. Exhale as you gently roll your spine along the floor, vertebra by vertebra.
If you're suffering with tummy pain, forward bend poses can help to ease digestive discomfort.
Sit on the floor with your heels together, and your knees out wide. Rest your hands on your feet and take a deep breathe in, keeping your spine long. Gently lean forward as you exhale, pressing the elbows against the inner knees to open the hips further, which will help you get a deeper forward bend. Take five deep breaths while in the position and repeat if necessary.
5. Knee to chest
Trapped wind causing you discomfort? Try the knee to chest pose. Lie flat on your back, and hug one knee to your chest at a time. Inhale deeply and then rock your knee from side to side to help massage your abdominal area and release wind. Change legs, hugging the other knee - and then hug both knees into the chest together and rock from side to side. Repeat a few times, breathing deeply.