Medications and over-the-counter treatments may help relieve symptoms of constipation. However, some alternative therapies like yoga may also provide relief.

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Though yoga may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to constipation, there is some evidence that suggests it may provide relief.

For example, a 2017 study of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that yoga may help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms of the condition, which include constipation and diarrhea.

Researchers added that yoga might also help address other IBS symptoms, such as anxiety.

Some yoga postures could manipulate a person’s digestive tract, which may help relieve constipation by encouraging the digestive tract to pass stool or gas.

Keep reading to discover eight yoga poses that may help alleviate constipation.

Note of caution

Some of these poses are more challenging than others. Be cautious when attempting these postures and do not push too hard.

Some people may prefer to speak with a yoga instructor before attempting the more advanced postures.

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It is best to try this yoga posture on a yoga mat or another soft surface.

To perform the twist:

  • Sit with the legs straight out in front of the body.
  • Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the ground on the outside of the left leg, ideally near the knee.
  • Bend the left leg and place it under or close to the buttocks.
  • Place the left hand or elbow on or over the right knee and gently twist to face over the right shoulder.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, then switch sides.
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The supine spinal twist may also help a person alleviate constipation.

To perform this twist:

  • Lie flat on the back.
  • Bring the arms out to the side in a T-position with palms down.
  • Bend one leg at the knee.
  • While keeping the shoulders flat, gently let the bent leg drop over the other leg.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
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The crescent lunge twist is a standing pose that requires a person to be in a lunge position. This pose also involves twisting the torso, which may help promote bowel movements.

To perform this twist:

  • Lunge forward with the right leg bent and the left leg straight.
  • Place the hands into a prayer position and slowly bend the upper body toward the right knee, leading with the left shoulder.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, then return to standing and start again with the opposite leg.
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The cobra pose does not require any twisting, but it could help alleviate other symptoms, such as gas and abdominal bloating.

To perform the cobra pose:

  • Lie flat on the stomach with the tops of the feet against the floor.
  • Place the palms on the floor at the sides, underneath the shoulders. Keep the elbows tucked in against the sides of the ribcage.
  • Engage the abdominal muscles and legs.
  • Press the palms into the floor, and gently lift the shoulders and upper body up.
  • Hold for several breaths.
  • Release and lower the body back to the floor.
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This pose is an inversion pose. This means that part of the person’s body will be upside down.

To do this pose:

  • Sit on the floor close to a wall.
  • Lower the back to the floor and with the hips as close to the wall as possible, walk the legs up against the wall.
  • Use a folded towel or blanket under the hips to relieve discomfort, if necessary.
  • Let the head rest on the floor.
  • Place the arms wherever it feels comfortable.
  • Stay in this position for as long as it feels comfortable.
  • Release and gently roll to one side to get up.
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The wind-relieving pose is a beginner-friendly pose that may help alleviate gas associated with constipation.

To perform this pose:

  • Lie on the back with the knees pulled up toward the chest.
  • Place the hands on or around the shins.
  • Tuck the chin in and gently press the back into the floor, gently pulling the knees toward the chest.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, then release.
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This pose strengthens all the abdominal muscles. It is one of the more advanced poses, so exercise caution when attempting it, and do not push your body too hard.

To do the bow pose:

  • Lie flat on the stomach.
  • Bend the knees.
  • Reach the arms back and clasp the ankles, if possible.
  • Gently raise the chest off the floor as far as is comfortable.
  • Using the tension between the arms and legs, try to lift the thighs and upper body off the floor.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then release.
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The adamant pose is also called the “thunderbolt” or “firmness” pose.

To perform this pose:

  • Kneel on the yoga mat with knees and toes touching and heels apart.
  • Sit in the gap between the heels.
  • Straighten the back and place hands on laps.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds to a few minutes.

Many people will experience constipation from time to time. In most cases, a person may find relief from their symptoms with dietary changes and over-the-counter treatments.

However, a person should see a doctor if they experience:

Constipation may be a sign that a person needs to eat more fiber and exercise regularly. It could also be a symptom of underlying conditions, such as IBS.

If in doubt, a person should visit a doctor for a diagnosis.

Here are some frequently asked questions about yoga and constipation.

Which yoga is best for constipation?

Various yoga poses and stretches can help with constipation. These include spinal twists, lunge twists, Cobra pose, Bow pose, and more.

Does yoga work for IBS?

Yoga may help alleviate symptoms of IBS. This can include constipation.

Can stretching out your stomach help with IBS?

If a person experiences IBS with constipation, stretching may help reduce symptoms. A person may choose to try stretching and yoga poses alongside diet changes and medication.

Yoga may help a person find some relief from constipation. Different poses could encourage the digestive tract to pass stool or gas.

Take care when attempting some of the more advanced yoga postures.

If yoga or dietary and lifestyle changes do not help, or if a person notices blood in their stool, they should see a doctor.