Need a quick fix for a puffy, bloated midsection? After overindulging or eating something that doesn’t sit well, your stomach may protest with large amounts of gas and a swollen appearance. Instead of reaching for a bottle of Tums, try getting on your mat to relieve the pressure in your stomach.
Certain yoga postures position your digestive system to help gas flow through freely. You can lightly twist and stretch your internal organs to quickly relieve discomfort and get your flat belly back. Both pranayama breathing and yoga move air through the body to help relieve stress, help you pass gas, and improve blood flow.
Here’s how the ancient practice of yoga can flatten your bloated stomach.
- 1 Can yoga reduce bloating?
- 2 What causes bloating?
- 3 9 Best Yoga Poses to Relieve Gas and Bloating
- 3.1 Wind Relieving Pose (Ardha Apanasana)
- 3.2 Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- 3.3 Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- 3.4 Supta Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist)
- 3.5 Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- 3.6 Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
- 3.7 One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana)
- 3.8 Garland Pose (Malasana)
- 3.9 Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
- 4 To Relieve Bloating, Choose Yoga Poses That Twist, Fold Forward, and Lengthen the Lower Abdomen
Can yoga reduce bloating?
Yoga can reduce stomach bloating and is even scientifically proven to help with menstrual cramps. Yoga works to relieve bloating in 2 primary ways: physical stimulation of the digestive system and mental stress relief that aids in digestion.
Physical Relief: Certain yoga poses target the digestive tract and abdominal organs to help soothe a bloated stomach. These asanas work by stretching, lightly twisting, massaging, and stimulating the digestive organs to move things through.
Stress Relief: At the same time, the stress relief of deep breath work and relaxation helps to relax your nervous system so you can tap into the parasympathetic (or “rest and digest”) state.
What causes bloating?
Bloating is caused by a buildup of air in your digestive system due to:
- Certain microbes in your GI tract
- Inflammatory foods
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Chronic stress (research shows that stress causes the sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system to be activated and alter the body’s ability to digest food properly)
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Digestive medical conditions and chronic diseases (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, obesity, etc.)
Addressing the root cause with a doctor or naturopath is essential for long-term reduction of bloating, but yoga can provide short-term relief.
9 Best Yoga Poses to Relieve Gas and Bloating
- Wind Relieving Pose (Ardha Apanasana)
- Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Supta Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
- One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana)
- Garland Pose (Malasana)
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Wind Relieving Pose (Ardha Apanasana)
This is one of the best digestive relief poses because it contracts the GI tract and sends “wind” (gas) passing through. Also known as the “knees to chest pose”, Ardha Apanasana relaxes your abdomen as well as your back, hips, and thighs.
- Lie on your back and bring your legs straight up.
- Inhale to suck in your stomach and bend your knees to your chest.
- Keep your ankles together and knees bent, then grab both knees with your hands
- If you have the flexibility, bring your arms around your legs or clasp your hands together and hold opposite elbows
- Exhale and let your back flatten to the mat as you continue hugging your legs into your body.
- Tuck your chin and breathe.
- Optionally, gently roll side to side or alternate by extending one leg at a time and pulling the other knee closer.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Maybe this classic position makes babies happy because it relieves trapped gas from their tummies.
- Beginning flat on your back, exhale to bring your legs toward your stomach.
- On an inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. If you can’t reach your feet, use a yoga strap over each foot.
- Widen your knees to each side of your midsection and check that your ankles are directly over the knees.
- Begin to lightly pull your feet towards the floor as you slowly breathe and open up the hips.
- Optionally, roll side-to-side to stimulate the back and abdominal muscles.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge pose stretches open your back and elongates your stomach to stimulate more blood flow toward your core. As an added benefit, bridge pose is mildly energizing and helps relieve back pain.
- Start laying flat on your back with your hands alongside your body.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Walk your feet backward until the tips of your fingers can touch your heels.
- On an inhale, engage your glutes and lift your hips to the sky. Slightly tuck your tailbone and chin.
- Keep your core engaged and allow your chest to open up.
- Hold and breathe. Avoid overarching or crunching into your spine.
- To challenge your balance and better aid digestion, press one hip at a time higher and extend the opposite leg straight out.
Put a block or bolster under your tailbone for added support. We love the Manduka Cork Yoga Block’s lightweight construction and comfortable edges.
For even more back support during this bloat-relieving pose, the Manduka Enlight Yoga Bolster is super soft, medium-firm, and easy to transport.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist)
Spinal twist is the perfect yoga pose for an unhappy stomach. As you bring one leg over to the opposite side of your body, you lengthen and twist out the air bubbles in your GI tract.
- Lay flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your arms outstretched alongside your body.
- Bend the right knee and tuck the toes of your right foot underneath the left knee.
- Grasp your right knee with your left hand and slowly bring it down to the floor on the opposite side of your body. Keep the knee firmly rooted on the mat.
- Keep your hand on the right knee, press toward the floor, and extend the right arm straight to the side.
- Slowly breathe and hold for as long as you’d like, then release and repeat on the other side.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
It may look overly simple, but Child’s Pose can do significant work to squeeze out abdomen pain. This face-down posture places gentle pressure on your stomach while loosening up the lower back and lengthening the upper body.
- Begin in a tabletop position with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees aligned directly under the hips.
- Bring your feet hip-width apart with the tops of your feet touching the mat.
- Rock your lower body backward on an exhale until your tailbone sits on your heels.
- Extend your arms forward with your palms flat on the floor. You can also keep your arms to your sides.
- Place your forehead on the mat and let your whole body relax downward.
Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
This deep-seated forward fold is known to stretch out the hamstrings, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the abdomen. This is a good thing for relieving bloating!
As you take several deep breaths and deepen into the posture, you can push excess gas out of your stomach. The key is to keep your spine as flat as possible (rounding it will diminish the bloat-relief effects).
- Begin sitting flat on your mat with your legs extended in front of you and feet together with your toes facing up.
- Create a slight bend in your knees. Bend forward to reach your big toes and loop two index fingers and thumb around each toe.
- Slowly begin wiggling your sit bones backward until your feet are elongated, keeping your core engaged and spine straight.
- If you can’t fully straighten your legs, don’t worry. It is more important to keep your back flat and create resistance with your arms as you pull your torso downward.
Use a yoga strap to improve your alignment if you can’t comfortably reach your toes or your back keeps rounding in this posture. We love the No Limits Stretching Strap from lululemon.
One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist (Marichyasana)
Think of this spinal twist as “wringing” out your intestines. It feels so nice on your spine while simultaneously pushing all those gas pains down and out! It’s the perfect pose after any meal or a long day of sitting.
- Begin in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend the left knee and place your foot flat on the floor outside your right knee.
- Inhale to engage your core and bring your right arm to the sky.
- Place your left hand on the mat behind you.
- Place your right elbow or hand on the outside of the left knee.
- Slowly twist your body open to the left side, keeping your spine elongated.
- Avoid crunching into the spine or forcing the twist. Sit up straight on every inhale and suck in your core as you twist deeper on the exhales.
- Repeat on the other side.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Also known as Squat Pose, this yoga pose stretches your ankles and hip flexors while encouraging a downward motion of food and trapped gas down through your GI tract.
- Start in a standing position with feet more comprehensive than the hips.
- Adjust your toes to face outward and heels to face inward.
- Slowly bring your tailbone towards the floor until you are fully kneeling with knees bent.
- Bring your palms together at heart center and place the elbows on the insides of the knees.
- Slightly press the knees outward as you flex your abdominal muscles and let your spine elongate downward.
- Keep your torso lifted and feet firmly rooted in the ground.
Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Similar to Seated Forward Bend, this yoga pose applies pressure to the abdomen to relieve gas as you bend forward over your legs. The slight inversion is energizing and beneficial for both brain and gut health.
- Begin in a standing position with the feet aligned directly beneath the hips.
- On an inhale, bring your arms straight over head. Elongate the spine and ribcage.
- On an exhale, tighten your core and hinge forward at your hips while keeping your back completely straight.
- Keep your abs engaged as you stretch your hamstrings and lengthen your spine. Don’t let your back arch or curve.
- If you can’t reach the floor, place your hands on your shins or on yoga blocks. You can also loop a yoga strap beneath your feet and pull the toes upward.
- Allow your head to drop to the floor and optionally cross your arms to grasp opposite elbows and dangle downwards.
To Relieve Bloating, Choose Yoga Poses That Twist, Fold Forward, and Lengthen the Lower Abdomen
Next time you feel bloated after a big meal, don’t reach for medications just yet. Try yoga for a quick and natural cure to ease bloating and reduce stress. The best poses are the asanas that twist your core, fold your body forward, engage your abs, and/or elongate your stomach upwards.
Enjoy the stretch, and don’t be afraid to let the gas flow freely so you don’t feel so heavy later on!