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Constipation is an incredibly common complaint. It's one that many people chalk up to being their "normal." While bowel movements don't necessarily have a set number per day or week that is "normal," there are things about bowel movements that can give insight into whether your habits are typical or not. In this article, we'll get into what is normal and not and how yoga can help ease constipation and why. Read on to learn more about exercises to relieve constipation immediately, specifically with yoga.
Yoga can help ease constipation in a variety of ways. Constipation is often linked to anxiety and fatigue. In research and my own professional practice, I've seen these linked. For example, many patients I've treated for constipation complained of stress and/or anxiety. High levels of stress of and anxiety are linked to a change in bowel movements. Furthermore, high levels of anxiety or stress can cause increased tension in the muscles. This can include the pelvic floor. Since we want our pelvic floor muscles to relax when we poop, muscles that are too tense can make this hard.
Yoga can help improve stress, anxiety, and fatigue by improving relaxation and promoting breath awareness. Tense muscles have a limited blood supply, but yoga promotes blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. By becoming more aware of breathing patterns, you can learn to relax the pelvic floor muscles better.
Furthermore, yoga encourages more movement of the digestive tract. Postures that involve twisting, for example, promote movement of material through our gut known as peristalsis. This will help move things along in order to pass gas or stool.
Lastly, it's interesting to note that yoga can help with things like the symptoms of IBS. By improving breath awareness and relaxation, yoga can affect the brain-gut axis. This can improve common symptoms of IBS like constipation.
These poses are meant to promote digestion and relaxation in the body. Both of these are important to improve constipation.
It is always important to seek care if symptoms do not improve, change quickly, or are severe. This list outlines reasons to seek care beyond conservative management at home.
To learn more about how your pelvic floor may be affecting your bowel habits, check out our post on pelvic floor tightness and weakness. As always, seek care if you're not sure or symptoms are significantly impacting your life.
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