The Only Stretch You Need to Help You Poop

The seated spinal twist can help get your digestion organs working.
Image Credit: Koldunov/iStock/GettyImages

Most of us take regular bodily functions for granted until our system is disrupted. Pooping is the perfect example. If you're having trouble getting your bowels moving, one easy twist might be what you need to reset to "all systems go."

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While being a little backed up can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem, most of the time, all it takes is a few good yoga poses and perhaps a walk to get your digestion and elimination systems back in sync.

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Yoga and Constipation

Low-intensity exercise is the number one way to ensure a regular number two. According to a February 2020 article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, establishing a consistent eating, hydration and exercising routine sets you up for a consistent poop schedule as well.

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And a regular yoga practice in particular can help relieve constipation, according to a July 2021 study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. While there are several moves that are good for activating your digestive system, one specific twist rises to the top when it comes to moving things along.

"The seated spinal twist helps with bloating and digestion, stretches the spine and opens the hips," says Adina Crawford, certified yoga instructor. Here's how to do it:

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How to Do the Seated Spinal Twist

How to Do the Seated Spinal Twist
Image Credit: Adina Crawford/LIVESTRONG.com
Activity Yoga
  1. Start in easy pose: Sit on the floor, cross your legs and place your feet under your knees.
  2. Lengthen your spine, thinking about pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling.
  3. Place your left hand on your right knee and bring your right hand behind you.
  4. Inhale as you lengthen through your spine.
  5. Exhale as you twist to the right from the base of your spine.
  6. If your mobility allows, turn you head in the direction of the twist to look to the side or behind you.
  7. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, inhaling to lengthen your spine and exhaling to twist further (if you'd like).
  8. Come back to the center, then repeat, twisting to the left.
  9. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, inhaling to lengthen your spine and exhaling to twist further (if you'd like).
  10. Come back to center. Repeat the cycle (or not) for as long as feels good.

Tip

As you twist, draw your bellybutton toward your spine to engage your abdominals and stimulate your digestive organs.

If the above version of the pose isn't comfortable for you, there are a few adjustments you can make: Try sitting on a folded blanket to elevate your hips over your knees. You can also extend your legs straight out in front of you, with the option to cross one leg over the other and twisting to that side.

Lastly, you control how intense the stretch is. Only twist as far as feels good for you. Twisting less can be a good starting point if this pose is new to you, while deepening the stretch may be an option for those with more flexible spines. But never stretch to the point of pain.

Why It Works

Yoga poses that twist the abdomen benefit your digestive system by helping stimulate blood circulation and release tension, making it easier for oxygen and nutrients to flow through the digestive system, per a May 2015 study in ​Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine​.

Once the digestive muscles are relaxed and nourished, it frees you up to let nature take its course.

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