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Whether your digestive system is inflamed or it’s that time of the month, a bloated stomach is never a pleasant experience, even if it’s inevitable. The severity of bloating can vary from person-to-person and day-to-day. You may experience a slightly swollen abdomen one day and pain the next. And yes, both of these symptoms could be the result of bloating. While it’s irritating (and unpredictable), yoga for bloating can help to relieve your discomfort, stimulate your digestion, and deflate that puffy tummy so you can get back to feeling like your awesome self.
Why yoga helps with bloating
When you’re bloated, you may just feel like lying down, which is totally understandable—after all, you’re likely quite uncomfortable. But slow twists and gentle poses can actually alleviate bloating. This type of movement will help reduce the appearance of a swollen abdomen—and ease your discomfort. Poses specifically focused on strengthening your core can stop bloating and reduce the frequency of bloating. In a 2015 study on yoga’s ability to alleviate symptoms associated with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), researchers found yoga reduced stomach pain, discomfort and bloating in participants.
Additionally, if you’re trying to be proactive and stop bloating before it occurs, your practice can help there, too. Medical professionals cite regular exercise as a key preventive measure. When you engage in regular movement, you discourage water retention and encourage bowel movement—both important elements in combatting bloating.
Interested in trying an anti-bloating yoga practice? These are the six best poses for combatting bloating—and preventing it from occurring.
6 yoga poses to ease bloating
A classic twisting posture, Half Lord of the Fishes energizes your upper body and promotes digestion. By squeezing the internal organs—your stomach, intestines and kidneys—this pose helps ease stomach pain and prevent constipation.
It can be easy to lose focus in a twisting posture. To stay present within the pose (and ensure that you’re practicing it safely), yoga teacher Ariele Foster advises paying attention to the position of your right knee. Is your right knee past the midline of your body? Do you feel tightness in your right hip? These are sensations to be aware of as your move through this pose.
One of the best ways to combat bloating? Strengthening your core muscles. Bow Pose does just that. This posture energizes your internal organs and stimulates the adrenal glands. Plus, this backbend increases blood flow to your digestive system, which helps prevent constipation, ease digestion, and combat bloating.
Yoga teacher Carol Krucoff advises students to challenge themselves in this invigorating posture. However, she also says to be wary of straining yourself—and to use a strap in a modified version if needed. “You do not have to catch your feet or ankles to gain great benefit,” she says. You’ll still give your internal organs a boost even if you’re in a modified version of this pose.
By massaging the abdominal organs, this twisting pose reduces (and prevents) bloating. Additionally, this pose helps improve digestion. So, the next time you’re feeling a bit unsettled and bloated after a big meal? Try practicing this pose.
Yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti says this pose is a great twisting posture because your hips are solidly grounded into your mat. Depending on your practice, Ippoliti says you can opt to put the hand not hooked behind your back on your knee or on your mat under your knee. Make sure to take the variation that works best for your body’s needs.
Open up your upper body—and say goodbye to bloating—with this energizing backbend. This pose stretches your abdomen and chest, giving your stomach room to properly digest. Yoga teacher Elise Joan says this pose helps encourage digestion by opening up the belly.
Feeling a little stuck mentally—or emotionally? Joan says this pose allows you to emerge out of a blocked mental state (especially one due to a lack of self confidence) by opening up your throat chakra.
A great pose for combatting bloating, this posture also tones your core and stretches your back muscles. It facilitates movement through your digestive tract, ensuring that you can digest your food easily—and avoid painful bloating.
Yoga teachers Travis Eliot and Lauren Eckstrom remind students to relax the back shoulder (the one the head looks over) and keep it away from your ear. When you look over that shoulder, make sure to position your chin parallel to the floor. Throughout the duration of this posture, they advise students to draw the belly in—toward the spine—and keep the shoulders soft.
This restorative posture relieves stress, calms your mind and improves blood circulation. By improving your circulation, this pose can help reduce bloating—and relieve you of stomach-related aches and pains.
While in this soothing pose, yoga teacher Claudia Cummins suggests taking a minute to observe the stillness of the posture. “With each quiet exhalation, see if you can drift a little closer to the stillness that lies at the very heart of the universe,” she says. “Let yourself float in this soothing silence for as long as you desire.”