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Yoga and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Yoga is as much a lifestyle as a natural therapy, and is increasingly valued for its soothing and relaxing approach. It is also part of the growing trend for alternative health solutions that do not make use of the traditional medical methodology.  Yoga can be particularly effective in helping people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Read on for more information.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition affecting the digestive system, and is primarily – though not exclusively - experienced by women early in adulthood.  It is characterised by feelings of nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.  Known triggers include excessive stress levels, some food groups as well as infections. Conventional medical treatment is via drugs, following exclusion diets and relaxation techniques.  Dairy products are thought to be one set of foods that may contribute to IBS, as are products that contain gluten.

What is Yoga?

YogaYoga originated in Asia, and is a system of physical and mental exercises with a focus on exercise, breathing, and meditation.  The primary objective of yoga is to bring together the body and mind into a state of equilibrium and accord.  Though Hatha yoga is considered the ‘parent’ form, there is a large array of different types of yoga, including:

  • Ashtanga – a demanding, energetic style of yoga
  • Bikram – a yoga style practised in a heated room and aimed at increasing flexibility
  • Ananada – otherwise known as Hatha yoga, this is a gentle approach to yoga
  • Integral – with an emphasis on positions and the meditative aspects; and
  • Iyengar – a precise style of yoga with an emphasis on poses

The benefits of yoga are many and varied and include:

  • Stabilises digestion
  • Reductions in blood pressure
  • Reductions in heart rate
  • Reductions in muscle tension
  • Improved strength and suppleness; and
  • Improved sleep patterns

How Can Yoga Help IBS?

Stress can be a major factor in flare ups of IBS.  As yoga is attributed with promoting a feeling of overall relaxation, it is the ideal natural therapy for sufferers of IBS who believe stress and nervous tension is the primary trigger. The breathing exercises that are used in yoga can be done at any time that you are feeling stressed, while meditation will allow you to clear your mind and relax.  The yoga poses, or asanas, can be used to strengthen the body as well as provide a physical means of achieving a relaxed state. The Jathara Parivartana (stomach rolling) asana is often recommended for relief from stomach ailments, which with regular practice can strengthens the intestines.

Ensure that your yoga instructor is trained and accredited by an association.  This will give you some level of assurance as to their expertise and level of training. 

Find out about other effective
natural treatments for IBS.


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