Yin Yoga for Tired Tummies
(Little note - I am not a doctor nor am I pretending to be one. This is a sequence I have put together based on what feels good and helps me. If you have an ongoing condition please please seek medical advice.)
I use this sequence and variations of it when my tummy is not feeling so good. For me that’s usually period pains and IBS. These are usually accompanied by stress so I use this time to really try and feel what’s going on and breathe with it.
Deep breathing reduces levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the blood stream. Furthermore it has a very calming effect on the central nervous system (CNS) and allows us to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). When the PSNS is activated:
- Heart rate slows
- Muscles relax (great for cramps)
- Digestion regulates
- Blood pressure lowers
Yin yoga also works with the PSNS and can also have very calming effects. Stay in each of these poses for three minutes, and longer for Savasana. Pay attention to softening and relaxing as much as possible. Use blankets, towels, pillows and whatever else you have to make yourself comfortable. Breathe.
Bananasana - 3 minutes each side
Start on your back. Send your left heel out past the left edge of your mat and shuffle your shoulders in the same direction so that you create a kind of crescent moon shape in the left side of your body. There is the option to take the right foot over slightly too but notice if that makes the sensation too strong. You want to be able to relax the entire body for three minutes so less is more. Another option is to take the arms over the head but same rules apply, prioritise comfort.
This pose gently works the tissues in the side of the body and creates space in the obliques and intercostal muscles. This openness so close to the lungs allows for deeper breathing.
Repeat on the other side.
Sphinx - 3 minutes
Lie on your front with feet about hip distance apart. Place your elbows shoulder distance apart and directly underneath your shoulders. An option is to support the lift of the chest with props as in the photo and rest the head in the hands. Just be careful that the hands are not holding the jaw as this will encourage the jaw to clench and create tension.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing in Sphinx pose will gently massage the abdomen. This pose also helps with lower back pain.
Supported reclined twist - 3 minutes each side
Lie on your back with the knees bent. Keep the feet on the floor to keep the belly open. Take the knees to the left and find a relaxed position for your arms. I like to keep my hands on my tummy for some added warmth and to remind myself where to send my breath. Use props underneath and/or in between the knees. Choose comfort here, try to relax every muscle in your body.
This pose gently massages the organs while working the tissues of the back, hips, glutes and abdomen.
Repeat on the other side.
Supported bridge - 3 minutes
Stay on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Knees and feet hip distance apart. Use props under the hips and sacrum to create a slight lift which will help relieve pressure in the uterus. Notice the sensations as the pose stretches the front of the hips and the tummy.
In this pose the heart is slightly higher than the head which activates the Baroreflex - in a nutshell the heart isn’t required to work quite so hard to pump blood to the brain as gravity is helping. This allows the heart to slow down, deeply relaxing for heart and mind.
Do not skip Savasana. In fact if you have only time for one pose, do Savasana. Lie on your back with legs straight out and feet at least hip distance apart. Support your Savasana with blankets, pillows, eye pillows etc. Allow breathing to be natural as you let your body sink deep into relaxation. Stay here for at least 5 minutes but stay longer if you can. Judith Hanson Lasater (massive name in Restorative Yoga) says that it takes AT LEAST 15 minutes to relax deeply.
As with every yoga sequence, do what feels good for your body. Stay attuned to what’s going on physically and emotionally for you in this moment.
Lots of love from Julia x