Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and stools become difficult to pass. It happens most often due to changes in diet or routine, or due to inadequate intake of fiber as well as a fast paced lifestyle. However it comes, having fewer than three bowel movements a week is constipation. It is more common than most people realise.
“Overall, the average prevalence of constipation in adults has been estimated as 16 percent worldwide (varies between 0.7% and 79%) whereas the prevalence of 33.5% was attributed to adults aged 60 to 110 years,” US National Library of Medicine reported in 2018.
The most common cause of constipation, gas, and other gut troubles has to do with our unhealthy, fast-paced lifestyle. Poor eating choices, stress and hectic schedules can manifest in your digestive system as hard stools or infrequent bowel movements.
It has been days since your last effective bowel movement. You feel bloated and restless.
You are at your wits’ end. What do you do?
Most people would grab the most accessible laxative, just to get some relief. Or if you grew up in the 1990s, aka the pre-children’s rights era, your grandmother might have an interesting alternative.
One of my not so fond memories of the ’90s is of my grandmother taking me to Spiritual Church of God in Lobatse for an enema (sepeiti) administration. It was horrific but very effective. The good news is that there is a less violent way to facilitate bowel movement in modern times, and it is more accessible than you think – yoga.
Yoga can help relieve constipation in two ways:
As already mentioned, stress may manifest in hard stools. If your constipation is stress-related, yoga may help. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. It helps reduce stress and to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Simply meditating and breathing deeply can help smooth things along.
Another way yoga benefits your digestive system is through twisting poses, inversions and forward folds. These poses massage your digestive organs, increase blood flow and oxygen delivery, aid the process of peristalsis, and encourage stools to move through your system. Doing yoga regularly can result in regular, healthy bowel movements.
However, do note that if you are too bloated or have excess fat around the midsection, twists may be uncomfortable, challenging or inaccessible. The trick is to be gentle, move slowly, use props and modify postures until you find your sweet spot. A good yoga teacher should be able to guide you safely to find what feels good for you.
If you are keen to get started with yoga, YouTube is a great place to start. Yoga studios such as Yownn Yoga have free yoga classes for beginners, or you can visit the nearest yoga studio.