Can Yoga Help an Upset Stomach?

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All that bending and twisting in yoga class isn’t about becoming a human pretzel; it’s about improving your well-being. Research shows that yoga can benefit many areas of your health. For instance, yoga may ease low-back pain, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, and help with anxiety and depression. Some people have found that yoga also relieves gas, but more research is needed to better understand the link. 

The mind-gut connection

Have you ever noticed that when you feel stressed or anxious, your stomach seems to know? Things can change pretty quickly. You may experience diarrhea or bloating. It’s no coincidence: A network of nerves connects the colon to the brain, and stress can cause the colon to overreact. What’s more, if you have a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), your colon may be overly sensitive to stress and upset.

Yoga to the rescue

Yoga can be a natural, healthy way to unwind. Yoga classes combine physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to help put your mind at ease. Participating in a regular yoga class may help reduce your stress, which, in turn, could reduce your abdominal discomfort and help you feel better overall.

If you’re thinking about beginning a yoga practice, ask someone you trust—a health care provider or a friend—to recommend a class. Seek out a registered yoga teacher— for instance, one with a Yoga Alliance certification, which requires at least 200 hours of training. When you call a yoga studio, ask about the physical demands of the types of yoga they offer. Finally, be sure to tell your yoga instructor about any medical problems or injuries you have.

Key takeaways

  • Yoga may ease low-back pain, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, help with anxiety and depression, and even relieve gas.

  • A network of nerves connects the colon to the brain, and stress can cause your colon to overreact. Doing yoga may help reduce your stress, which, in turn, could reduce your abdominal discomfort.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 4

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/

  2. Yoga for Health. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm

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