Yoga for Soothing the Gut

Can this movement therapy help with gut motility issues? Let's find out!



It is now very evident that the health of the gut plays a huge role in many chronic conditions. “Heal the gut first” has become a mantra in the natural medicine world and for good reason. The connection between the brain and the gut is undeniable and this is especially true for those with gut motility issues.


The purpose of these asanas should be to create structural harmony, improve paraspinal muscle tone, promote proper vertebral movement and optimize reflex responses to the gut."

Some of the main causes of gut motility issues include atonic rectal muscles, a spastic or an obstructed colon, or result of adhesions from abdominal surgeries. Those who have had abdominal surgeries could have altered intrinsic abdominal musculature and fascia that help stabilize the lumbopelvic region.


Yoga and the nervous system


How does this have any connection with the nervous system? Well, the nervous system innervates the gastrointestinal system in two ways. One is sympathetic innervation from the mid thoracic region to upper lumbar region. When these nerve fibers are stimulated, gastrointestinal activity can be inhibited. When there is a structural dys-relationship, it leads to altered paraspinal muscle tone, aberrant vertebral movement and suboptimal reflex responses. These reflexes also include somatovisceral reflexes that promote gut motility functions.


Second way the gut connects with the central nervous system is by the parasympathetic input from the brain stem via the vagus nerve and the S2, S3 and S4 sacral nerve roots. The vagus nerve exits the skull via the jugular foramen and travels closely along the cervical vertebrae. When there is segmental dysfunction at the cervical level, it can create suboptimal parasympathetic input to the gut. Similarly, when there is segmental dysfunction at the sacral region, it may cause suboptimal input to the gut from the sacral nerve roots.


From a yoga therapeutics point of view, what does this mean? There can be simple poses and hand-on assists implemented to improve the gut-brain connection and establish balance in a distressed gut. The purpose of these asanas should be to create structural harmony, improve paraspinal muscle tone, promote proper vertebral movement and optimize reflex responses to the gut.


Below are some of my chosen poses to improve gut health

1. Child’s pose

2. Downward facing dog

3. Crescent lunge twist

4. Garland Pose

5. Seated Twist

6. Happy baby pose