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We’ve all experienced some form of constipation at some point in our lives. Some of us more frequent than others. It’s normal. At times even over-the-counter drugs and home remedies are not enough to “loosen the stool.” When all else fails, here are a few exercises and stretches that will help you go to the bathroom faster and regularly.

What Is Constipation?

This condition of the digestive system is characterized by hard feces that are difficult to eliminate. Typically, the colon absorbs too much water from the food that is already in the colon. The reason for this is because the Standard American Diet contains foods that take a long time to digest. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon absorbs, causing feces to become dry and hard. This makes it difficult to empty bowels. We have several yoga poses and exercises that can help you empty your bowels more easily.

Child’s Pose:

This yoga pose will help stretch your hips, back, thighs, and ankles while relaxing your muscles. The stretching of the muscles in your torso in this pose will allow gasses to pass through the body more easily, which in turn helps get things moving to allow for easier stool passage. Start of in a seated position on the floor with your knees tuck under your bottom, tops of your feet on the floor. Fold your upper body forward, sinking back down onto your feet, until your forehead is touching the ground with your arms extended out in front, palms on the ground. Now hold it! (no pun intended). Breathe easy and allow your breath to flow through your body and put your digestive tract at ease.

Wind Relieving Pose:

This is another simple yoga stretch that requires very little movement but is effective in allowing your stool to move freely through the digestive tract. Lay flat on the floor on your back with your legs extended. Bring both knees into your chest and interlock your fingers around your shins. Hold it for a few minutes. You can try another variation of this position by tucking in one leg at a time, leaving the other leg extended, and switching after a minute or two. 

The Standing Forward Fold:

Not only is this stretch a great way to relieve stress and fatigue, it’s also a great way to improve digestion, and stimulate liver and kidney function. Stand up straight with both hands to your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. Start to bend forward at the hips, keeping your legs straight, and round forward as much as you can. As you lower yourself toward the bottom start to fold into your legs. Let you head hang and relax your shoulders with both hands on the ground. Hold it and take some deep breaths in and out. If you can’t touch the floor, place your hands on your knees or ankles for support, but try to hang to reap the benefits.

Half Standing Forward Fold:

This is a shorter variation of the Standing Forward Fold that will stimulate your abdominal organs and improve digestion. From the folded position: Lift you chest away from the folded position and straighten your spine, so that you are hinged at the hips in an “L” form. Rest your hands on your knees or a yoga block and lift your head up to stretch out your belly. Hold the pose for a minute or two and take deep breaths.

Jumping Squats:

A great way to loosen your bowels is by squatting down and jumping as you push back upward. This exercise will not only tone your legs and buttocks, but the constant downward and upward motion will help push the stool farther down with every rep.  As long as you maintain a good posture in your hips and back, you can expect your next squat to set you right down on a toilet seat for a much needed bowel movement. Note that doing squats 30 minutes before a meal is a great way to boost the metabolism and encourage healthy digestion.

Forward Lunges

This is another exercise that will help define your leg muscles and stimulate digestion. Similar to the jumping squat, the constant motion of back and forth lunging, alternating both legs, will help loosen the waste that is stuck in the digestive tract. Be sure to keep your chest up and your back straight as you lunge forward. You’ll start to feel the pressure building and the urge to go in no time. Try to do two to three sets of ten lunges per leg.

Cardio:

As awkward as it may feel, doing some mild cardio or anything that will get your body moving will help ease constipation. Its been proven that regular exercise for 10-15 minutes per day is great for a healthy digestive system. Just a few minutes of jogging, swimming, and dancing will help stimulate peristalsis, allowing excess waste to pass through the body.