≡ Menu

Yoga Flow for Digestive Health & Relaxation

Today’s yoga flow is sponsored by UP4 Probiotics. 

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.
Since completing my Whole30 earlier this year, I have become much more aware of gut health and how it impacts the rest of my body. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve upped my intake of fermented foods (hello sourdough sauerkraut toast!) and I’ve also started taking probiotics daily. In the past it’s always been a habit that I get into and fall out of.

8.19up4

Recently, I’ve been using UP4™ Probiotics for my probiotic. Their probiotics feature clinically validated strains that have been proven to support digestive and immune health. Each of UP4’s formulas contains their trademarked superstrain Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1 which has over over 40 years of clinical research on its ability to colonize the gastrointestinal tract and bring digestive and immune benefits.

I’m taking their Women’s formula and it also includes cranberry powder, which has been shown to support urinary health.

If you’d like to check out UP4 Probiotics, here’s a coupon for $5 off select UP4 products at Target.

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

But beyond diet and probiotics, I also find yoga to be extremely beneficial in assisting with gut health and digestion. Some of the ways my practice supports digestive health include:

  • Twisting to stimulate and massage the digestive tract
  • Back bends to stretch the abdomen
  • Forward folds to compress the abdomen and increase circulation to digestive organs
  • Focus on breath and movement to reduce stress and anxiety

This is a great time to segue into the emotional piece of the practice and gut health. It’s very common for digestive problems to serve as indicators of other issues going on in our lives. Stress, anxiety, depression and emotional distress can wreak havoc on our digestive systems.

I find that I can draw direct ties between my emotional state and my appetite and digestion. Yoga is one of the best natural remedies I’ve found for managing stress and anxiety.

So today I’m going to share a yoga flow with some of my favorite poses for digestion and relaxation. I’m including photos and descriptions of each of the postures along with a time-lapse video of the flow so you can see it all put together.

Child’s Pose

  • Big toes together to touch
  • Knees spread wide
  • Forehead resting on the mat
  • Arms extended out in front of you towards the top of your mat
  • Hold for 1-2 minutes

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Cat and Cow

  • Begin on all fours in a tabletop position
  • As you inhale find cow by dropping your belly down and lift your chest and gaze up as you arch your spine
  • As you exhale find cat by drawing the belly in and dropping chin to your chest as you round your spine
  • Move through 5-10 rounds of cat and cow

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Downward Facing Dog

  • From all fours, lift your hips up to come into an inverted v-shape with straight arms and legs (knees can be slightly bent if back side body feels tight but do not bend elbows)
  • Spread your fingertips wide and press firmly into the mat with your fingertips and palms
  • Relax shoulders away from ears
  • Gaze back between your knees
  • Draw belly in and up
  • Sink heels into the mat
  • Hold 7-10 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Low Lunge

  • Step your foot between your hands and drop down to the back knee
  • Lift arms overhead or place them on top of the front thigh
  • Sink into the front knee to open up the hip flexor and psoas on the opposite leg
  • Keep your chest lifted up and shoulders drawn back
  • Hold 7-10 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Twisting Low Lunge

  • Beginning in low lunge, draw hands to hearts center
  • Twist the opposite elbow to the outside of the front thigh
  • Think navel to spine as you draw belly in to create space to twist
  • Breathe deeply!
  • Hold 5-7 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Wide Leg Forward Fold

  • Take a quarter turn to the opposite side of the mat from the leg that is in front
  • Point your toes straight ahead or even slightly in
  • Bend at the waist and let the torso hang down with crown of the head towards the floor
  • Place hands on the floor in front of your face
  • Draw belly in to give more space to fold
  • Squeeze quadriceps to lengthen the hamstrings
  • Hold 7-10 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Revolved Side Angle

  • Walk hands to the top of the mat
  • Spiral high on the back toes, lifting the heel off the mat
  • Bend the front knee at 90 degrees
  • Place the opposite hand on the floor to the inside of the front foot and lift the other hand straight up in the air, stacking it over the shoulder
  • Keep hips as square as possible as you twist open through the upper thoracic spine
  • Hold 5-7 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

High Plank

  • Step  your front foot back to meet your back foot at the back of the mat
  • Shoulder stacked over wrists
  • Straight line from head to hips to heels
  • Engage core, chest and thighs
  • Hold 5 breaths

*Once you do all poses through plank on the right side, press back to down dog and repeat on left side before moving onto locust.

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Locust

  • Lower all the way down to the belly
  • Extend hands by your sides, palms facing down
  • On an inhale, lift your shoulders, palms and shins off the mat
  • Gaze is at the top of the mat and not up, keep spine long
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together and broaden the chest
  • Firm but don’t squeeze your glutes
  • Hold 7-10 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Camel

  • Come up to all fours from locust
  • Rise up to kneel on your knees with them hip distance apart, think about internally rotating your thighs
  • Bring your hands either to the low back or to the heels as you lift the center of your chest to the ceiling and let your head fall back
  • Keep your hips stacked over your knees and resist the urge to recline backwards
  • Firm but don’t squeeze your glutes
  • Hold 5-7 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Seated Forward Fold

  • Cross ankles and sit back onto your butt
  • Extend both legs straight out in front of you
  • Reach arms up in the air to create length in the spine and then fold forward over the thighs
  • Reach for whatever you can grab…feet, ankles, shins or just let the arms drape by the side
  • Draw the belly in to create space for a deeper fold
  • Hold 10 breaths

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Supine Pigeon

  • Lie on your back and cross your ankle over your knee.
  • Wrap one hand behind the hamstring as you pull it in towards you and press the other hand into the knee as you push it away from you.
  • Hold 7-10 breaths on each side

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Supine Twist

  • Draw the knee into the chest and then cross it over the body to the opposite side of the mat
  • Try to keep shoulder blades on the floor as you twist
  • You might take your gaze in the opposite direction of the twist
  • You can use your hand on the knee to guide yourself a little deeper into the posture
  • Hold 1-2 minutes each side

A yoga flow to support digestive health and to promote relaxation.

Savasana

  • Extend both legs out straight and allow feet to fall open
  • Extend both arms out by the sides and let palms open towards the ceiling
  • Close your eyes and relax into your mat
  • Hold 3-5 minutes

And here is a time-lapse video of the flow so that you can see how it all works together.

To wrap it all up, gut health is multi-faceted and can be benefited by a blend of diet, probiotics and yoga. I hope you’ll check out UP4’s line of probiotics and also incorporate this flow into your routine when you’re needing some extra digestive care or relaxation.

Do you take a daily probiotic supplement? 

Do you notice a tie between your emotional state and your gut/digestion? 

What strategies do you use to promote good gut health? 

UP4 Probiotics compensated me for this post but the yoga flow and opinions are my own. 

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Tiffany August 24, 2016, 2:01 pm

    this post is so helpful because I have been looking for a good probiotic, but quite honestly, i’m more interested to know where your crops are from- they are too cute! can you share where you got them?

  • 3
    Kate O August 25, 2016, 7:32 am

    Thanks Jen! This is perfect as I’ve been thinking I need to add a yoga flow sequence into my evening routine (my stress, digestion and sleep are calling for it). Do you have an idea of how long this sequence would take if done slowly and once through? Thanks again!

    • 4
      Jen DeCurtins August 25, 2016, 3:32 pm

      Hi Kate! I would say around 15-20 minutes depending on the length of your holds.

  • 5
    Lesq August 25, 2016, 9:23 am

    I have suffered with digestive health for years now. I have been to a holistic MD, Columbia Presbyterian digestive dept and a very highly recommend MD. I do yoga daily for years at a studio for an hour and forty-five minutes and love it!! I have found I believe that if one was raised on a healthy, plant-based, whole grain, Mediterranean diet with small amounts of fish and chicken thrown in, to go Paleo, add non-Mediterranean fats is not beneficial for everyone. Drs are starting to see ramifications from the high fat, no grains, exceeds protein, heavy oxalate diet. My family’s diet has served them well. My parents are thin, extremely healthy, and active in their later years. We ahoukd get all we need from food sources. The need for laboratory made food pills are not necessary in a well rounded diet really. Probiotics are great though bec hard to get a lot of that through diet. Your yoga flow is what we do for digestion. It’s wonderful.

    • 6
      Jen DeCurtins August 25, 2016, 3:31 pm

      I’m so sorry to read about your struggles but glad you have found good support through professionals and yoga. I think that diet is such an individual thing and that what’s right for one person may not be ideal for another so I think the most important thing is to learn to pay attention to what makes YOU feel best without getting stuck on fads or things you think you “should” be doing.

  • 7
    Jessica August 25, 2016, 11:20 am

    Thanks for the great tips on cue-ing these basic poses. As a new yoga teacher, I sometimes get a little tongue-tied trying to effectively communicate poses.

    • 8
      Jen DeCurtins August 25, 2016, 3:28 pm

      You’re so welcome! Let me know if there are any yoga-related topics that would be helpful for me to address as you begin teaching!

  • 9
    Linda August 25, 2016, 4:37 pm

    Great suggestions, Jen! And thanks for all the yoga examples!!

  • 10
    Keisha August 26, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this article! I was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and thus began incoporating yoga and probiotics into my regimen. I am a fairly new ‘yogi’ however, I reallllly enjoy its calming, yet restorative effects. I will try this flow and that particular brand of probiotics. I’m excited! Thanks again

  • 11
    Laura August 27, 2016, 2:07 pm

    I love watching your yoga videos. Looks so effortless!
    Thank you for this one – I’ll be trying it soon. I’m very new to yoga and currently as flexible as a crowbar but this looks doable even for me!

    I don’t look after my gut as well as I should. I used to take supplements but stopped because I wasn’t feeling any difference. I do eat quite a lot of sauerkraut these days, though, so that’s something!

Leave a Comment