Being bloated is up there on the list of highly uncomfortable bodily sensations. A puffy and gassy mid-section can be caused by many culprits, and it's easy to reach for over-the-counter pills and remedies to soothe your stomach. But a single yoga pose might just be the more natural answer to relieve your discomfort. The best yoga pose for bloating is super simple and, in my opinion, is way more effective than relying on your trusty bottle of Tums to rescue your inflated stomach.
Whether you've overindulged a bit for dessert, ate something too salty or too fast, or you suffer from pesky cases of mild constipation or acid reflux, bloating happens to pretty much everyone, at one point or another. You might feel like food is literally just sitting in your stomach for hours, or maybe you feel like you're low-key four months pregnant — but your baby-to-be is a not-so-cute pocket of gas.
Do not fear the bloat-baby, my friends. In my casually-biased-yoga-instructor opinion, there's a yoga pose for everything that ails you — and yoga has multiple asanas to relieve gas and bloating, and gently nudge your digestion along in the right direction.
The ultimate pose for a majorly bloated belly is the seated spinal twist — or ardha matsyendrasana, in Sankrit — which is basically the master of improving digestion and tending to your less-than-pleased stomach.
Moving your body through a seated spinal twist when you're uncomfortably bloated will benefit your body in a number of ways, and yes, it'll definitely help your tummy return to its normal, content state. For starters, this asana lengthens and realigns the spine, which might not seem like it has much to do with bloating, but proper posture actually is imperative to the digestive system, because the body is designed to properly digest food in an upright position.
Yoga twists are known to improve general digestion because contorting your body in this way is basically forcing your system to, for lack of a better phrase, move things around a bit. If it feels like all the delicious food you ate during that catered lunch at work is still sitting in your stomach by the time you get home, ardha matsyendrasana may be the best way to nudge your digestive system in the right direction.
Seated spinal twists also encourage fresh blood flow throughout your body, which will help eliminate toxins that are contributing to your bloated state. Think of it this way: While you're twisting, you're actually reducing blood flow to your digestive organs. But when you come out of the pose, you're encouraging brand new blood to travel to your digestive organs, replenish them, and let them go to work on healing your bloated belly.
When you're in your seated spinal twist, you might find it a bit more difficult to breathe, especially if you're not used to contorting your body this way.
However, it's important to maintain deep, even inhales and exhales the whole time, so you can reap the full benefits of the asana.
As you inhale, practice lengthening your spine. Pretend there's an imaginary line of energy drawing the crown of your head upward, allowing you to grow taller. On your exhale, see if you can twist your body a little bit deeper into the pose, as this might help relieve lingering gas that's contributing to your bloating.
Remember, above all, to always listen to your body. It's good to challenge yourself and see if you can go deeper into the twist, but if you feel any pain or pulling sensations, be sure to take things more slowly. Additionally, if you have any back issues or injuries, proceed with caution in this asana, and consider consulting with a doctor or experienced yoga teacher before relieving your tummy troubles.
However, once you're in the clear to safely practice ardha matsyendrasana, it might just become your all-time favorite way to banish that dreaded bloat.