yoga poses for ibs and ulcerative colitis

8 Gentle Yoga Poses For IBS & Ulcerative Colitis

There is nothing more frustrating than being sent home from the doctor with the classic old IBS label. Typically, all this tells you is that they couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong and you will likely have just been told to up your fiber and fluids. Gut health is so very elusive and famously hard to diagnose and even if you have been given a label of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Ulcerative Colitis, there is usually not much that allopathic medicine can offer you in the way of healing.

This is something I am all too familiar with. The whole digestive, nightmare roller coaster, a ride that I am still on! It is relentless and absolutely impedes upon quality of life and if you are anything like me, chances are you’ll spend thousands on supplements and specialists, hopeful and trying to figure it all out, BUT unfortunately all of this time, money and energy is to no avail.

Taking my healing into my own hands, was the best thing that I ever did and yoga was a big part of my support and still is. Alone, it will not cure you of your digestive woes, but it will support you as you detoxify and cleanse your body through dietary and lifestyle changes. It will help to remove obstruction, excess gas, and toxicity from the body, but you have to be relentless in you commitment to healing.

This article is specifically designed to help get you moving, twisting, and compressing the problem area so that you can let go of what is truly not serving you and it’s not just me saying this! Studies in the area of digestive health and wellbeing have indicated that yoga can have a positive role in addressing a variety of gastrointestinal issues such as IBS and Ulcerative Colitis.

childs pose vector







What is IBS & How Yoga Can Help

Poor gut health is plaguing our society, as we have become more about living to eat, instead of eating to live. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but overeating, eating foods that cause inflammation and poor food combining has become way more common practice, and as a result so many people are being stuck with the label ‘IBS’. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is basically your diagnosis when allopathic medicine doesn’t know exactly what is going on with you and Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that inflames the length of the digestive tract. Whatever the issue is going on inside the intestines and colon, yoga is going to help support symptom relief and tt can also help to strengthen and tone the abdomen which will make the bowels more resilient over time.

Yoga For IBS & Ulcerative Colitis Infographic

Yoga poses for IBS and ulcerative colitis infographic

Deer Pose

To come into Deer Pose start seated and bring your right leg forward and have the shin parallel to the top edge of the mat with the knee bent. If it is uncomfortable to have the shin parallel you can move the foot in and closer to the groin. Bend the left knee behind you and work it down towards the back of the mat. Bring your right foot to connect with your left knee. Bring your bolster (blanket) to the right side of your body. Inhale and bring the hands up to the sky, lengthen the spine and as you exhale, draw both hands towards the right side of your mat. Fold the upper body down onto your bolster.

Inhale to bring the torso back up and un twist the body, coming back through center. Take Deer Pose to the other side. Bring the bolster to the other side of the body switch your legs, by sending your right foot towards the back, and bringing your left leg forward. Bend both knees and find that connection between your left foot and the top of the right knee. Inhale and send your arms up to lengthen the spine, and then gently twist towards the left side, inviting the upper body down towards the mat and surrendering onto the bolster.

Deer Pose is a great way to ease into this restorative practice, as you have the opportunity to fully surrender down into the earth. Enjoy this stress release and the cooling effects of posture and as you rest, take conscious deep breaths and really focus on the gentle twist that is happening in the body.

Deer pose

Revolved Easy Pose - Parivritta Sukhasana

You can either place the bolster to the side or you can slide it underneath the sitting bones to lift the hips up. Cross your legs in front and inhale as your scoop your hands up towards the sky. Start to twist the torso and bring your right hand to the left knee and left hand towards the back of your mat. Gently push your left hand in towards the ground as you breathe in, lengthening the spine and then exhale, gently twisting deeper.

Inhale to reach both hands back up towards the sky and then twist to the other side. Left hand comes to your right knee and the right hand towards the back of the mat. Find length through your spine as you breathe in and gently twist as you exhale, finding depth.

Revolved Easy Pose invites a juicy massage into the abdomen as you work to twist at the core. This is going to help with symptoms of IBS as it encourages the movement of stagnant energies, trapped gas, and obstructed waste matter.

revolved easy pose - Parivritta Sukhasana

Easy Pose Variation Cactus Arms - Sukhasana

Inhale and reach both hands back up towards the sky. Lengthen the spine and then start to bend your elbows at ninety degrees. Lift your heart up towards the sky for a gentle seated backbend. Draw the shoulder blades together and send the chest up, allowing your gaze to go up. Lengthen the back of the neck and exhale all of your air out. Inhale, reach the hands back up towards the sky and then exhale, bend the elbows and lift the heart up. Inhale, reach the hands up and exhale, draw the elbows back down. Continue to squeeze the shoulder blades together throughout this flow.

Easy Pose cactus arms - sukhasana

Bridge Pose - Setu Bandhasana  

Come to lying down on your back with the knees bent and the soles of the feet pressing into the earth. Bring the hands out to your sides and make sure your fingertips can dance across the back of your heels. Draw the lower abdomen down so that your sacrum connects to the mat. Take the gaze up and then inhale as you press into your heels and lift the hips up off the ground. Root down through the heels, lift the hips and gently walk your shoulder blades underneath one another.

Bridge Pose encourages extra blood flow into the colon and the large intestine and as more blood comes in, there is more optimal movement inside of the body. Continue to send the breath into the problem area to promote healthy movement.

bridge pose - setu bandhasana

One-Legged Wind Relieving Pose - Eka Pada Pavana Muktasana  

Draw your knees in towards your chest and wrap your arms around your knees. Find some free movement here, gently rocking side to side to massage the lower spine and sacrum. Start to send the left leg out long and keep drawing the right knee in towards the outer edge of the right ribs.

This variation of the Wind Relieving Pose, allows you to focus on compressing one side of the abdomen at a time. As you compress the organs and give the internal organs a gentle massage, you are encouraging the body to release what it is holding onto.

half wind relieving pose - pavana muktasana variation

Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana

Send your left arm out like a wing in line with the shoulder or bend the elbow to goal post the arm. Use your right hand to invite your left knee over towards the opposite side of your body. Ensure that both shoulders are rooted down in towards the mat and then allow your knee to fall to where is comfortable.

The aim of this pose is not to get the knee onto the ground here, instead focus on the gentle twisting of the spine and abdomen. This is going to massage the organs and invite some healthy movement into the space. Allow each breath to lengthen the spine and each exhale to twist you deeper.

Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana

One-Legged Wind Relieving Pose - Eka Pada Pavana Muktasana   

Send the right leg long and pull the left knee in towards the outer edge of the left ribs. Squeeze the thigh down in towards belly to compress into the left side.This compression is going to invite the organs to move and release. 

half wind relieving pose - pavana muktasana variation

Wind Relieving Pose - Pavana Muktasana  

Draw both knees up and in towards the centerline of your body to come into full Wind Relieving Pose. Keep both shoulders glued down to the mat, slightly tuck the chin the lengthen the back neck and send each breath into the belly and use each exhale as an opportunity to squeeze the thighs down.

Use this pose to give yourself some love and know that the body is trying to do everything that it can to let go of what is not serving you. Trust that these twists and compressions are going to encourage movement and release of your IBS or Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.

wind relieving pose - pavana muktasana

Featured Video: 8 Gentle Yoga Poses For IBS and Ulcerative Colitis

Mudra for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Agnisar Dhouti is a yogic mudra and kriya, that is used to activate the digestive fires.

Begin standing straight, take a deep breath in and then as you exhale, bend the knees and bring the hands down onto the knees. The weight of the shoulders should come down the arms and into the hands. The shoulders, hands and knees should all be in one line, which means the torso will be leaning forward.

In this state of exhalation (no breath), start to contract the stomach. Pull the belly back towards the spine and then release. Continue this pumping motion of the belly for as long as is comfortable, and then take a breath in and come back to standing. Repeat this process three to four times and try and make the movement more rhythmical as opposed to jerky.

This swift movement of the stomach works to fire up the internal organs and digestive juices flowing. The abdomen contains the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys and via this pumping movement, the organs are been sent a fresh rush of oxygenated blood which helps to flush out impurities.

Sahaja Agnisara Dhauti is translated as the “abdominal purification through blood and the subtle essence of fire”, and is thought to cleanse Manipura Chakra, the fire chakra located at the navel region. This is thought to strengthen the abdominal organs, increase their efficiency and provide relief from symptoms of Irritable Bowel.

5 Yoga Poses for Diarrhea

Different poses, tackle different digestive dramas, so you want to make sure you are not busting out poses that are going to get the bowels moving when you are already stuck in the bathroom with diarrhea.
There are poses for constipation, acid reflux, indigestion but the following poses are specifically going to help counter against overactivity in the bowels.

Studies indicate that yoga as an intervention for diarrhea, is just as an effective means of treatment as other more conventional remedies. You want to avoid poses that bring the hips down into a squat or that compresses the belly, and instead try to invert the abdomen so that the bowel is encouraged to slow down. This will also support fluid absorption which will help with diarrhea. Start slow and be gentle with the body and listen to its cues as you move through these gentle poses.

Reclined Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclined Hero Pose – Supta Virasana
Camel Pose – Ushtrasana
Supported Shoulderstand Pose – Salamba Sarvangasana
Headstand – Shirshasana I


Yoga is going to support you as you work to cleanse and clean out your body, which is essential when it comes to healing any kind of digestive disease. You will need to ensure you are eating a diet of easily digestible fruits and leafy greens which will help to clean and scrub the colon, as well as be aiming to eliminate stress from your life. As you detox and purify, toxicity is going to become dislodged and need somewhere to go and yoga is going to help to assist this waste out of the body.

Practice these yoga asanas regularly to help keep the body fluid and the digestive system in motion. It is when there is an obstruction that we suffer from digestive disease, so it is important to cleanse and keep things moving. These poses are simple and gentle and can be done regularly to help strengthen the abdomen which will help to keep waste build at bay, so try adding them into your daily practice to really benefit from the accumulated effects.


Charlie Hanna

Charlie is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha, Yin Yoga & Meditation teacher with a psychology degree in her back pocket. She is currently on a mission, chasing sun and Read More..

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