There isn’t a person in this world who hasn’t experienced stomach issues. Indigestion, acid reflux, food poisoning, menstrual cramps, bloating, constipation… The list of causes for abdominal distress is pretty long, and the severity of symptoms can range from mild discomfort to extreme pain.
The good news is, whether you are suffering from chronic pain, or experiencing acute discomfort in your digestive system, yoga can provide both immediate relief and be used to manage abdominal pain long-term.
Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)
Abdominal pain is often caused by bloating and trapped wind, and both can be a symptom of a larger issue (such as IBS, Crohn’s or PCOS). Wind-Relieving Pose is designed to gently apply pressure to the affected areas, and as the name suggests, it results in releasing trapped gas. Additionally, Wind-Relieving Pose is suitable for yogis of all ages, regardless of fitness level or experience.
Contraindications: since the pose requires lifting forehead towards the knee that’s pressed against the chest, there is a risk of neck injury. When you practice this asana, make sure to engage your core to minimise that risk.
Similarly to Wind-Relieving Pose, Apanasana uses the weight of the knees to apply pressure to the belly, essentially providing a gentle massage for your abdominal organs. This pose can provide relief from pain caused by bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation and more!
Contraindications: if you are in the later stages of pregnancy (second and third trimester) you might find it uncomfortable or downright impossible to bring your knees to your chest. Instead, try to pull your knees towards your armpits, still massaging the sides of your belly, while enjoying the relaxation aspects of this pose.
Supine Belly Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Applying pressure to your abdominal area is not the only way to massage your organs, and Supine Belly Twist is proof of that. The twisting motion is a great way to gently “wring” the contents of your abdomen, improving the blood flow around your organs, stimulating digestion and increasing peristalsis. It’s a wonderful pose for anyone from complete beginners to seasoned practitioners.
Contraindications: if you have issues with any part of your spine, be very mindful when performing this pose (use props if necessary!) or avoid it until your spine is in better condition.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Stomach pain can be exacerbated or even caused by undue stress, and Child’s Pose combines the best of both worlds. Not only does it perform a function similar to Knees-to-Chest, applying pressure to the abdomen and providing solution for the physical issues; Child’s Pose is also one of the most accessible and adaptable asanas when it comes to calming your mind and allowing you to decompress.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
As well as compressing your stomach, consider stretching the front of your body in a pose such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, especially if the pain is caused by changes in your reproductive system (e.g. period, menopause, pregnancy etc). Bridge Pose is also well-known for improving blood flow, which is crucial for the proper functioning of your digestive and reproductive systems.
Contraindications: when practising this pose, be very mindful of your neck. If you have an injury or a chronic condition affecting your neck, try Camel Pose or Upward Salute instead, and keep your neck in a neutral position.