Constipation is a common condition of having a hard, dry bowel that can cause extreme discomfort in the movement of bowels, resulting in being the infrequent passage of a small amount of dried and hard stool less than three times a week.
Causes of Constipation:
The large intestine, also known as the colon, absorbs water from the residuals of food and enabling the emptying of the bowel or having bowel movements much more convenient. After converting the residuals to waste, it should be quickly out of the body through the rectum. If the waste remains in the colon for a longer period, it becomes hard and is much more difficult to pass. The attributed element of this situation is:
- Heavy consumptions of unhealthy foods or junk foods
- A side effect of certain medications
- Less intake of fiber in your diet- particularly high-fat food like eggs, cheese, and meat
- Lack of body movement or absence of exercise
- Delaying or ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- Hectic schedules or Changes in lifestyles such as pregnancy, travel, or old age
- Stress, depression, or anxiety
Symptoms of Constipation:
Constipation is not just about having a less or fewer bowel movement as every individual has their definition of normal bowel movement as some go three times a day and other may go three times a week so while struggling with constipation you will experience a range of symptoms which are stated:
- Fewer than three bowel movements per week
- Having a painful and strained bowel movement
- A dry, hard, and small stool
- Experiencing a blockage in your rectum
- An unsatisfied bowel movement
- Bloating of the stomach
- Having cramps, stomachache, and abdominal pain
Treatment of constipation:
Constipation is usually treated by changing your diet and lifestyle and through certain medications or over-the-counter medications, but as some people seek alternative therapies so yoga can be the best substitutable for it.
How can constipation be treated at home?
Some of the lifestyle changes may involve the following:
- Drink at least four to five extra glasses of water
- Avoid elements that can cause dehydration such as high caffeinated drinks and alcohol
- Add fruits, vegetables, cereal, and other high fiber food to your diet
- Try new physical activities mostly preferred yoga
- Eat prunes and bran cereal
- Check how you sit while having a bowel movement as raising your feet, leaning back, or sometimes squatting may help
Can Yoga be effective in relieving constipation?
Although yoga may not be the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with constipation and but this ancient art of physical, mental, or spiritual practices is very beneficial as it can be effective in reducing the risk of postpartum depression to maintaining the levels of inflammation in people struggling with heart failure. Undoubtedly, it can help with constipation by easing the pain and discomfort caused by it.
How does Yoga cure constipation?
Yoga eases constipation through managing stress and improving digestion, as it is a group of spiritual and physical practices.
Simple meditation and some breathing exercises will enable you to manage your stress responses, which are proven to improve the functioning of your digestive system. The phenomenon of blocked up of the rectum is more like to happen when a person is stressed out.
Breathing exercises are easiest to adapt in your daily routine to all you need to set aside and pay attention to your breathing. In the beginning, start with 2 to 5 minutes and accumulate the time as soon as you get comfortable with it.
Following are the easy ones to start with:
- Pursed Lip Breathing:
- Relax your neck and shoulders
- Keeping your mouth close, slowly inhale through your nose and count till 2.
- Purse your lips the way when you are about to whistle
- While counting to 4 slowly exhale through your pursed lips
- Deep Breathing:
- While sitting or standing, drawback your elbow, allowing your chest to expand
- Take a deep breath through your nose
- Hold your breath for 5 counts
- Slowly exhale through your nose
- Resonant or coherent breathing
- Inhale for 5 counts
- Exhale for 5 counts
- This breathing pattern shall be continued for at least a few minutes
Yoga comprises several twisting poses, inversions, and forward folds which will massage your digestive organs enabling to increase the rate of blood flow and deliverance of oxygen assists in process of peristalsis (a series of wave contractions that move the food through the digestive tract) and stimulate the stool to move through your digestive tracks.
Being consistent with some of your favorite yoga poses will cause helping with infrequent bowel movement straining and bloating of the stomach, hence relieving constipation.
Yoga poses for constipation:
The poses mentioned below can help in alleviating constipation, but beware that some of these poses can challenge, so while attempting, do not push yourself too hard. You can also seek guidance from a yoga instructor before attempting advanced postures.
- Half Spinal Twist:
- Sit with your legs straightened out in front of you
- Bend your left leg and place your left foot passing over your left knee on the ground
- Place your left leg under your buttock by bending your leg
- Now place your left hand over your right knee and give a little twist to your face over your right shoulder
- Take few breaths while holding this pose
- Now switch sides and repeat this pose
- Supine Spinal Twist:
- Lie on the ground on your back
- Bring your arms out and place it on the ground with your palm down, making a T
- Bend your left leg at the knee
- While keeping your shoulders flat, slide your left bent leg and drop it over your right leg
- Take a few breaths while staying in this pose
- Repeat this on your opposite side
- Crescent Lunge twist:
- Lunge forward by bending your right leg in the front and straighten out your left leg behind
- Make a prayer position with your hand by placing the palms of both hands against themselves
- Bend your upper body or torso towards your right knee, leading with your left shoulder
- Hold this pose for few seconds
- Start again first by standing and then trying with your left leg
- Cobra Pose:
- Lie flat on your stomach with your toes pointing out
- Place your palm down on the ground next to your shoulders
- Slightly lift your head and curl your neck backward
- By pressing your palms to the ground, gently lift your shoulders and the upper body, lightly pressuring your lower back
- By staying in this posing, take a few breaths
- Return to your initial position by gently lowering your upper body
- Legs Up the wall pose:
- Choose any wall of your room and sit next to it
- Lay down with your back on the ground in such a way that your hips touching the wall or as close as to the wall as possible and your legs up against the wall
- Rest your head on the ground
- Place your arm wherever you desire
- Stay in this position for as long as your comfort is not being compromised
- Then gently drop your leg to one side and get up
- Wind-Relieving Pose:
- Lie on the ground and pull both your knees toward your chest
- Hold your knees with both your arms wrapped around your shins
- Tuck your chin in and gently put pressure on your back by pulling your knees toward your chest
- Release this pose after taking a few breaths
- The Bow Pose:
- Lie on the ground on your stomach
- Bend your knees
- Straight out arm back and try to tightly hold your ankles
- Slightly raise your chest off the ground and go further depending on your comfort
- Using the support formed between your arms and legs and if possible try to lift your thighs and upper body off the ground
- Keep this pose for few seconds and then release
- Adamant Pose:
- Kneel on the ground with your knees touching in front and toes at the back keeping the heels apart
- Sit on the gap formed between the heels
- Try to keep your back straightened and place your hand on your laps with palms down
- Hold this pose for few seconds or few minutes depending on your comfort
- Child pose:
- Start by sitting on the ground with your knees tucked under and keeping a gap between both the knees
- Lean forward and place your hand in front of you palm down and creep forward until your forehead touches the ground
- Take deep breaths while holding in this pose
- Squat Hold:
- Making a prayer position by placing the palm of both hands against themselves
- Keeping your back straight hinge at your hips, bend your knees like you are about to sit down on a chair, and straighten your arms out in fort of you.
- Hold this pose for few breaths
- Slowly stand up straight and relax for few seconds
- Repeat this as many times you like.
- Forward Bending:
- Stand straight allowing your feet to touch each other
- Lift your arm high up in the air over your head
- Try to touch your feet by bending down
- Hold this pose for a few breaths
- Repeat it as many times as you like as long as you are comfortable
- Downward-facing dog:
- Start by standing straight
- Bend down in such a way that both your arm are placed on the ground making an inverted v shape
- Keep your hands aligned to your shoulder and spread your legs by keeping the distance equal to the width of your hips
- Put pressure on the ground through your palms and slightly bend your knees
- Take deep breaths while holding this position
- You can repeat this if you like but in the beginning, doing it once is enough
Remember not to be stressed out because of the quantity or difficulty of these poses. First, select any two to three poses you can find out of these twelve poses and as soon as you get comfortable with them slowly increase the number of poses. While doing these poses try to stay calm and think about things that make you the happiest and breathe deeply because a peaceful mind is very important for making yoga effective to fix your digestive woes.
When to consult your doctor?
You should consult your doctor for constipation if the following symptoms develop:
- Worsening of the usual symptoms of constipation
- Sudden occurring of constipation without any known reason
- Change of lifestyle or diet being ineffective to the ongoing constipation
- Bleeding from your rectum or having blood in your stool
- Severe or constant abdominal pain
- Having difficulty in passing gas
- Vomiting or Puking
- Losing weight unexpectedly
- Dysfunctional Constipation
Remember to talk openly and to tell every single detail regarding your condition. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions regarding your own condition. As constipation can be a temporary situation, a long-term situation or it can also be a sign of a more serious condition. Kindly be safe and see a doctor if you have noticed any of these above-mentioned symptoms.
Constipation is a very common condition that occurs due to poor dietary habits, hectic lifestyles or anxiety, stress, or even depression.
It can be treated at home naturally just by making moderate changes to your lifestyle like eating more fiber or staying hydrated or exercising regularly.
At the beginning of yoga do not push yourself too hard start with the simplest ones and then if comfortable, move to the advance poses.
However, sometimes constipation develops severe symptoms and stops responding to these moderate changes of lifestyle then you should speak to your doctor as it can be a sign of something serious.