Bloating is common after a big meal, and there are plenty of those all the way from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. But just because you want to indulge doesn’t mean you have to suffer through post-meal pain the entire holiday season. Let’s talk about what causes bloating and what yoga relieves bloating fast, so you can feel better asap.
Wait. Why do I feel so bloated, anyway?
Does a big meal make you feel like your jeans no longer fit around the waist? As uncomfortable as it is, having some bloating from time to time is completely normal. That’s especially true after a big meal. Think about it: the stomach is roughly the size of your fist. Eat more than you ordinarily would, and your stomach expands to hold that extra food. While your food is being broken down and digested, you’re going to feel some temporary tightness in your belly from that growth.
But even if you didn’t eat that much extra food, it’s still possible to get stuck with an uncomfortable feeling. Having to scarf down your food in a hurry can cause air to get trapped in your belly. (Hello, bloat.) So can drinking carbonated sodas, seltzers, or hard seltzers—especially if you’re sipping them through a straw.
Help! What yoga relieves bloating fast?
So, what yoga relieves bloating fast? The good news is: all types of yoga help bloating and the discomfort that comes with it. If you’re heading in to the studio, you don’t need to search for a particular style or class. Your favorite will work just fine. Don’t want to leave home? No problem. Find a comfy spot on the floor. These two simple, easy-to-do mini sequences are guaranteed to help reduce your belly bloat fast.
But wait: why does yoga help relieve bloating and trapped gas so much? One, yoga helps you relax your muscles. Plus, most yoga poses, or asanas, are actually meant to help with digestion. (Which they do by stimulating and engaging the abdominal muscles.)
Flow 1: cat-cow to downward-facing dog to knee-to-chest plank
Marjariasana, or cat-cow pose is a great warmup for any yoga practice. It’s also a perfect pose if you’re feeling bloated because it engages the abdominal muscles and encourages blood flow to the area. To get into marjariasana:
- Start in tabletop position, with the knees stacked under the hips and the wrists under the shoulders. If this hurts your wrists, bring the hands out slightly in front of the body
- Inhale and on the exhale, draw the abdomen inward and begin to arch the back like a scared cat. Allow your neck to follow the curve of your back, with the crown of the head pointing toward the floor
- On the next inhale, start from the tailbone and begin to create a bowl or hammock with the back as the belly dips slightly toward the floor. Bring your gaze up gently
- Continue for 8 to 10 breaths
From cat-cow to downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
After cat-cow (marjariasana), come back to a neutral spine in tabletop position. Next, press down through the palms and recruit your abdominal muscles. Lift the hips back and up, coming into downward-facing dog, or adho mukha svanasana. Remember: even though you feel it in your hamstrings, this pose is really about 1. a back stretch and 2. giving the body a rest by evenly distributing your weight between your hands and your feet. So, if you need to, bend your knees and lift onto the balls of your feet to create a nice long line with your back.
Because bloating is usually a buildup of gas in the intestines, this pose really helps that gas make its way out of the body. In fact, any yoga pose where your bottom is higher than the rest of your body (like a forward fold) can help you feel less bloated.
From downward facing dog to knee-to-chest plank
From downward dog, you can engage the belly and begin to lower the hips so that the body is a nice diagonal line, or plank pose. Create a flow by lifting the hips back and forth several times, coming into down dog and then back into plank. Settle back in downward-facing dog again and:
- Lift your right leg up into the air
- Bend your right knee and draw it in toward the chest while simultaneously hinging forward into plank pose
- Hold in plank with the knee in toward the chest for two breaths and then return to downward-facing dog
- Repeat several times on the right side before switching to the left leg
- When you’re done, bring the knees to the mat from downward-dog. Once you’re in tabletop position again, sit the hips back on the heels and allow the forehead to rest on the floor in child’s pose, or balasana
Flow 2: apanasana to reclined twist to knees to chest
The Sanskrit word apanasana translates to “downward-moving life force” because it’s said to move toxins down and out of the body. This single knee-to-chest pose is also a great place to start because you can easily move into a mini-flow with a few poses that help beat bloat. To get into apanasana:
- Lay down flat on your back with both knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor
- Warm up the body by gently releasing the knees to one side and then the other
- Extend the right leg long and draw the left leg into the chest, keeping the knee bent. Wrap your hands around your left shin. Or, if you have knee issues, place them on the back of the left thigh
- Inhale and gently pull the left leg closer to the chest, toward your left shoulder. Exhale
From apanasana to supta matsyendrasana
Stay in apanasana for several breaths, with the left leg drawn into the chest and the right leg extended on the mat. Release the hands and place the arms out palms-down, so the body is in the shape of a “t.” Gently roll to the right. Allow the left knee to come toward to the floor (or a pillow). Reclined twists like supta matsyendrasana stimulate the organs in the abdomen and increase blood flow to the area, which helps speed up digestion.
From supta matsyendrasana to knees to chest, or pawanmuktasana
Carefully roll onto your back again, keeping the knee drawn into the chest. Pull the right knee into the chest too. Keep the knees and ankles close together. Wrap the arms around the shins. For a more gentle version, place hands behind the thighs. Take several full breaths here. On the inhale, pull the legs in closer to the chest and belly. On the exhale, gently release the extra tug. If you don’t have neck problems, you can lift the back of the head off the floor. Keep the nose pointed to the ceiling. Pawanmuktasana, or knees to chest, is also known as wind-relieving pose. That pose does exactly what it says: helps you pass gas, ease gas pains, and relieve bloating.
Once you’ve finished this sequence on the left side, release the soles of the feet to the floor. Then, repeat the poses on the right side of the body.
Want to go the extra mile? Pairing this with yoga relieves bloating faster than yoga alone
Getting up and going for a walk around the block may be the last thing you want to do after a big meal or if you’re feeling bloated. But, combine it with a few yoga poses, and it’s really the best thing you can do. Why? For one, being outside and getting fresh air is a mood-booster and is proven to help reduce pain. Also: this form of cardio is gentle yet still increases oxygen and blood flow throughout your body. As a result, digestion speeds up and that extra air trapped in your intestines can be released.
Yoga’s not relieving my bloating. In fact, nothing is. Is that bad?
If yoga’s not relieving your bloating—and nothing really is—it’s time to talk with your doctor. Even though bloating after eating a big meal or certain foods is normal and common, dealing with bloat more often than not isn’t something that should be ignored, especially if you’re also experiencing symptoms like joint pain and fatigue too.
Several health issues can cause bloating. Food allergies and intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), estrogen dominance, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, hypothyroidism, and some infections can all make for uncomfortable bloating. If your bloating is happening a lot, call your doctor for a checkup. Before your appointment, keep a journal of when you feel extra bloated, what you ate, and if anything helped. Be sure to record any other symptoms you’re having too.