These simple poses can ease discomfort and prevent embarrassment.
Yoga helps your body reabsorb and expel gas by stimulating peristalsis, the muscle contractions that eliminate waste. It also increases blood flow to your digestive organs so that they work more efficiently.
What to Do
Do these poses daily to ease existing gas pain and prevent bloating. Also, choose foods carefully and eat slowly.
CAUTION: Avoid these poses if you have had a hiatal hernia or abdominal surgery, have an inflammatory disease, a hyperthyroid condition, diarrhea, sciatica, or back problems, or are pregnant or menstruating.
Jane Collins, 47, of Denver suffered from severe gas pains 10 years ago. Then a financial manager, Collins (name changed upon request) was embarrassed to be with co-workers and was exhausted because the pain interfered with her sleep.
A friend suggested she try yoga. The practice relieved her symptoms and taught her to listen to her body. Collins began to note how certain foods made her feel, and this self-awareness led her to alter her diet.
As she fell in love with yoga, she grew more self-accepting. "I used to be uncomfortable with gas. I thought my body was not supposed to make those noises, but now I just laugh," she says. Now a yoga teacher, Collins reminds herself and her students that it's okay to be human.
Chest to Thigh
1. Sit on the floor with your spine straight and tall and your legs extended in front of you. Bend your left knee to the side with your heel tucked in near your groin. Bend your right leg so your right knee a points straight up to the ceiling. Turn the left side of your torso slightly to the right so your chest is centered over your right leg. Grab your right foot with both hands, bringing your torso down to your right thigh, as pictured. Keeping your head in line with your spine, take several deep breaths.
2. Moving an inch at a time, slide your right heel out along the floor while still holding your foot. Stop and breathe deeply between each movement. Continue until you feel that if you proceed any farther you won't be able to keep your torso on your thigh. Don't worry if you didn't move very far. Take 3 to 10 breaths in this position.
3. To release, place your hands on the floor and very slowly roll your spine back up to a sitting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
1. Lie on your belly with your forehead resting on the floor. Bend both knees so the bottoms of your feet face the ceiling. Reach back one hand at a time and clasp the outsides of your ankles. Keep your buttocks squeezed at all times as you press your pelvic triangle (your pubic bone and hipbones) into the floor. If you are a beginner, hold one ankle at a time.
2. You can stop here and hold this position for 3 to 10 breaths, or you can move to the next step if you feel able.
3. On your next inhalation, press your pelvic triangle into the floor and lift your head, torso, and thighs as high as you can, pressing the tops of your feet into your hands, as pictured. Hold this position for 3 to 10 breaths.
4. To release, continue squeezing your buttocks as you slowly lower your thighs to the floor over the course of several breaths. Let go of your feet and lower your torso and head to the floor. Turn your head to one side. Keeping your feet up, swing your lower legs from side to side--like windshield wipers--for 3 to 5 breaths.
1. Lie on your back with your legs outstretched. Hug both knees to your chest, as pictured, and breathe deeply. Continue hugging your right knee to your chest as you extend your left leg on the floor, flexing your left foot.
2. Each time you exhale, hug your right knee a hair closer to your chest. Do this for 7 to 10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Lower your feet to the floor with your knees bent. Using your fingertips, massage little circles on your belly, following the path of your large intestine. Apply extra pressure each time you exhale. To begin, start at your lower right side, just above and to the right of your pubic bone. Move up an inch at a time to the left of your right hipbone. Move to the left across your belly just above your navel, and then move back down to the right of your left hipbone, ending just above and to the left of your pubic bone. Repeat this massage two times.