My Dad underwent a surgery last year to remove part of his large intestine and from time to time now he still experiences pain and bloat. To help relief some of his abdominal pain and stress, I compiled a list of simple yoga poses for him to practice daily. He’s in his 60s, somewhat physically fit with the exception of occasional knee pain, hence I’ve provided mostly simpler variations so as not to add to his stress level!
Most of these poses help to stimulate and massage the abdominal organs, release gas and reduce bloating and constipation. Here are some of the poses that are accessible to anyone of any age.
Apanasana (wind-releasing pose)
Benefits: Relieves bloating and gas pains
How to: Lie down, relax and inhale, placing your hands on your knees. Exhale, and hug your knees to your chest. Rock gently from side to side to maximize the stretch. Stay for 10 breaths, and release your knees. Repeat this 4 times.
Modification: To vary the stretch, you can do one side at a time. Leaving your left leg extended forward, bring up your right knee and hold it for five or more breaths. Then, switch to the other side.
Supta Jaṭhara Parivartanasana
supta = supine
jaṭhara = stomach
parivartana = revolving
asana = posture
Benefits: Stretches the back
muscles and spine. Stimulates the kidneys, abdominal organs, urinary bladders and intestines. Releases stress.
How to: Lie down on your back with arms stretched out to the sides. Inhale and bend both knees. Exhale, drop both knees to the right. Keep shoulders squared and rooted to the ground. Use a block to support the knees if required. Stay for 10 breaths. Inhale, bring both knees back to centre and repeat the other side. For a deeper twist, you can also do this pose with eagle legs.
Modification: You can also do this twist one leg at a time. Leaving the left leg extended forward on the ground, bend the right knee and hug close to chest. Exhale, drop right knee to the left and use left hand to gently apply pressure on right knee. Keeping both shoulders squared and rooted to the floor, stretch right arm out to the right and turn your head to the right. Stay for 10 breaths. Inhale, return hands and knees to center. Repeat on the other side.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (supported)
I have selected this supported variation (medium height using the block) that would be most comfortable for my Dad.
Benefits: Increases blood circulation. Stimulates the lungs, thyroid glands, and abdominal organs. Improves digestion
How to do it: Lie on the floor and bend both knees. Keep your arms beside your body and your feet flat on the floor. Lift hips up and place a block under your sacrum for the supported version.
Modification: Use different sides of the block to vary the height, or completely remove the block.
One-legged seated spinal twist
Benefits: Stimulates digestive organs
How to do it: Sit with your legs extended forward. Bend your right knee and place your heel close to your body. Reach your right arm behind you and place your palm on the floor. Inhale, raise your left arm up. Exhale twist to the right, placing your left triceps outside of your right thigh. Stay for 10 breaths, lengthening the spine each time you inhale and deepening the twist each time you exhale. Release the twist and repeat on the other side.
Modification: Sit on a block and repeat above steps.
Benefits: Helps alleviate stress and anxiety. Releases tensions in the back, shoulders and chest. Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them supple. Normalises circulation throughout the body.
How to do it: From a kneeling position, sit on your heels with your knees mat-width apart. Lean forward, stretching your arms in front of you. Then, keeping your back straight, place your forehead on the floor.
Modification: To make it easier to hold the pose, rest your head on a block or a pillow. For those who have difficulty sitting down on your heels, you can also roll a thick towel and place it at the back of your knees for support.
With peace and love,