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Yoga Is For... Bloating
The first instalment of our 7-week series with New York yoga studio SKY TING focuses on gentle twists and backbends that can help alleviate stagnation in the digestive tract and put you more at ease from bloating.
Co-founders of SKY TING yoga studio in downtown New York Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan take a prebiotic and probiotic every day for the gut-balancing, mental health and skin benefits. Beyond nourishing the gut with a supplement, they recommend yoga for relief from bloating, with gentle vinyasa flows that incorporate supine twists, inversions and backbends.
Although it’s possible to find immediate relief—“Most students report that right after class their bodies feel very spacious and relaxed”—Krissy and Chloe stress that “yoga is very much a ‘practice’: Consistency over a longer period of time is really the best way to see the benefits of this practice. A funny correlation our teacher Nevine Michaan makes is that you don't brush your teeth once and expect them to stay clean forever—there's upkeep involved. Yoga is a way for us to clean and service the body. We always recommend to start with what feels manageable—maybe it's one yoga practice a week. Over time, you might find benefits to increasing to two or more times a week, but we think it's better to commit to less as opposed to going all in for one or two weeks, and then falling off the wagon.”
The movements they recommend include gentle stimulation, like circling the hips in a tabletop position to create a “quality of current”, encouraging a “churning” effect through the body, while incorporating stretches that deepen the groin to help relieve strain in the digestive tract. “A lot of lower back issues stem from digestive issues,” Chloe explains—so perhaps your desk posture isn’t solely to blame after all.
A 2012 research study found that acupuncture was particularly effective in the treatment of indigestion (medically known as dyspepsia), helping to reduce bloating. Acupuncture techniques can be incorporated into yoga by tending to pressure points; Krissy and Chloe recommend using your thumb to press into the inside of your shin next to your kneecap while in a low lunge, and balling your fist to use your knuckles to firmly rub down the outer part of the shin, stimulating blood flow to relieve digestion and menstrual cramps.
Another technique they teach is a spinning breath known as ‘bhastrika’, during which the body is quickly twisted from side to side while seated, inhaling while twisting to the left and exhaling while twisting to the right. “Your heart on the left side of the body holds heat and your liver on the right side acts as the governor of the body, helping to regulate, filter and clear out,” says Chloe, so creating a “salad-spinner” movement enables any heat that might have become stagnant to filter through.
Closing your yoga practice with some restorative poses are a great way to relax while also having a positive effect on your digestion too: “The point of yoga is to feel better, not push yourself into danger,” warns Krissy, advising the use of supportive props like bolsters or whatever you have access to at home (pillows and Harry Potter books have been known to be used by their clients at home during coronavirus lockdown).
Try the Yoga Is For Bloating class here.