What's the first thing you generally want to do when you feel bloated? If you answered something along the lines of "crashing on the couch," then, same. But as it turns out, it's a good idea to do the exact opposite and opt for yoga. Yoga can "prevent bloating by regulating the digestive system," says Jazmin Tejada, a NYC-based yoga instructor at Y7 Studio.
Tejada recommends simple poses that target discomfort in the abdomen, such as soft twists, bends, and stretches. "The compression of the organs allows for fresh blood to come rushing in once released, lessening unnecessary pressure," she says.
We asked Tejada for five yoga poses to keep in mind the next time you need relief from uncomfortable bloating. See how these soothing positions can beat your average couch routine and maybe even help lessen stress too.
"Start on your back, and bring your knees to your chest," she says. "Give your knees a gentle squeeze, and then gently rock from side to side. This will massage the lower back and relieve tension. Stay in this position for 10 breaths.
"Knees-to-chest poses, whether on the knees or on the back, allows for compression of the organs and reduction of any unnecessary pressure in the belly," Tejada notes.
"Start on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Let your knees fall over to the left while your upper body lays flat on the ground. Your head can stay facing the ceiling or can roll over to the opposite side of your legs," she says.
From here, you can either "bring your left hand on to your knees to help deepen the twist, or form 'cactus arms' overhead to expand your breath," Tejada says. "Stay in this position for five to 10 breaths, and then switch sides and repeat."
"Come on to your knees and keep them as close as it is comfortable," she says. "Send your hips toward your heels and untuck your toes. Let your belly rest on your thighs."
Then, "reach the arms forward and away from the body while letting your forehead rest on the ground. Stay for five to 10 breaths."
Seated Spinal Twist
"Start in a seated position with your legs extended," Tejada says. "Cross your right foot over your left leg, and step the right foot on the floor so your knee is pointing up to the sky."
She notes that you'll have the "option to hook your left elbow outside of your right knee" at this point. "Or gently hold your right knee with the left hand."
Then, "reach your right arm behind you, placing your hand on the floor. Gently twist to the right. Use your breath to get deeper into the twist, while relaxing tension in the muscles. Stay in this position for five to 10 breaths."
"Come on to your hands and knees and place your wrists under your shoulders. Keep your knees under your hips at about hip-distance apart," she says. "As you inhale for cow pose, stretch the belly down to the ground and pull your chest ahead of your shoulders. The crown of your head should reach up to the sky."
"As you exhale for cat pose, tuck your chin toward your chest and reach toward the sky. Press the floor away and let your pelvis move forward and back naturally with your breathing. Stay in this position for five to 10 rounds of breath," she says.