10 Yoga Poses That Help with Digestion When You Have Overeaten

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Since the beginning of time, all living creatures, including us humans, need food to survive, grow and reproduce. Without food, our bodily functions may fail, thus leading to death, eventually. This is because food provides us all the nutrients that gives us energy, build and repair tissues and cells, heal us and protect against diseases. The right kinds of food can also improve our mood and mental functioning. Although we can obtain vitamins and minerals through supplementary means, food is the most efficient way to get them.

Although eating is necessary to obtain all the necessary nutrients, overeating is a different thing. Some people may think that it’s funny or harmless. But the truth is, overeating can do serious harm to our health.

Things you should know about overeating

Majority of the diseases we know today are effects of overeating or over consumption of low quality foods. This can cause a deterioration in your digestive system and stress in your vital organs, which could lead to failure and eventually, death.

But why do people eat more than they should?

The diets of early humans were modest. Their nutritional intake consists of only 10 percent fat; sugar was taken primarily from ripe fruits; and salt intake was little to none. However, salt, sugar and fat – three of the most palatable – only come in small quantities, as they were quite rare. And so, overtime, humans developed a way to increase the quantities of these desirable ingredients in food. Hence, the amount of sweet, salty and fatty foods has become unlimited nowadays. So, what happens when there is a never-ending supply of these types of foods? Yes, you guessed it right – a lot of us lose control against anything that’s high in sugar, fat and salt.

Dr. David Kessler, MD, former US FDA head, said in his book “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite” that “among the senses, taste is hardwired to brain cells that respond to pleasure.” This means that our brains respond differently to different eating experience. There are neurons that fire up when you eat something sweet or salty. Others respond to fatty texture in food. When we eat something sweet, salty and fatty – the most highly palatable food – this triggers our body’s pleasure system, particularly endorphins, which are hormones that have a rewarding effect that can also be obtained from using morphine and heroin. This results in a surge of a pleasurable feeling, making us want to eat more of the highly palatable foods. What’s worse is that these kinds of food do not satisfy you, yet you keep wanting more.

Other causes of overeating

Apart from the most desirable qualities of food, the following factors can also lead to overeating:

  • You don’t break the fast.

A lot of people think that skipping meals, especially breakfast is an excellent way cut down on the calories. But if you do so, you’re most likely to gorge on whatever food is in sight once you start to feel hungry. This results in bingeing on unhealthy foods and snacks.

  • You don’t limit what you eat.

A good way to avoid eating too much is to practice portion control, carefully planning the serving size of your food to ensure your calorie intake is at a healthy level.

  • You don’t eat snacks.

Eating in between meals helps curb hunger. This is because eating snacks keeps you feeling full until your next proper meal. Aside from that, pre- and post-workout snacks provide your body the right amount of nutrients and thus, strength and willpower.

Effects of overeating

Overeating on special occasions do not really have long-term effects. But if you consistently eat more than what you need, you’ll soon start to pack on the calories, fats, cholesterols and other harmful substances that can cause various diseases.

Take a look at some of the many health problems that can be a result of eating too much.

Obesity

When your body becomes loaded with fat, cholesterol and fat, you gain a lot of weight and eventually, become obese. You will know if you are obese if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is more than 30. You are especially at risk of this disease if your family has a history of obesity.

High Blood Pressure

If you become obese due to eating too much, you are highly at risk of suffering from high blood pressure, apart from other fatal diseases. Packing on more weight means more blood is needed to distribute oxygen throughout your body. This puts more pressure on the walls of your arteries. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80mmHg, you are most likely to have this diseases.

Cardiovascular Diseases

If your heart works double-time to pump more blood in your system, you are stressing out the most vital organ in your body. This could lead to heart attack or stroke, which is because of poor diet, poor lifestyle choices and lack of physical activity.

Diabetes

Although an overwhelming factor that can lead to diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes is a person’s family history of the diseases, there are outside factors that can contribute to the risk. These include obesity, age, poor diet and lifestyle. When a person is diabetic, they are more at risk of hypertension, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.

As you can see, overeating can have a lot of bad consequences, if done constantly. So, how do you stop yourself from eating too much on a regular basis?

There are quite a few things you can do to manage your food intake effectively. For one, you can train your mind to have the mindset that you should refrain from comfort eating or using food as a reward. You should also start practicing portion control so you can be sure to eat just the right amount of food.

Yoga poses to improve digestion after you’ve overeaten

For times when you have overeaten or have overindulged, like when there’s a special occasion, don’t reach out for a pill for acid reflux or indigestion just yet. Check out these yoga poses to help improve your digestion and cure stomach problems brought about by eating too much.

1. Apanasana

Yoga poses to improve digestion after you’ve overeaten

This pose involves hugging your knees to your chest. This posture lets you do a simple stretch to get relief from bloating or gas problems.

What to do? The first thing you need to do is lie down on your back. Be mindful of your breathing. Then, place your hands on your knees. Slowly bring up your knees to your chest and exhale. To maximize the stretch, move your knees side to side. Keep this position for 10 breaths. Repeat this a few times.

2. Uttanasana

This calming pose helps relax your internal organs and improve circulation inside your body.

What to do? You will need to begin in the mountain pose. Before doing this, though, it’s important to bring yourself into your body to ensure that you are physically prepared for the exercise. Next, inhale as you extend your arms straight above your head. While exhaling, engage your abs and bend forward with your back straight. Move your chin closer to your chest, relax your shoulders and move the crown of your head toward the floor, extending your spine. As you shift your weight into your toes, stretch your legs as much as possible. Then, put your hands on the ground with your fingertips lining up with the toes. Hold this position for five breaths. Then, repeat.

3. Jathara Parivartanasana

This yoga pose is called the belly twist. It stretches your muscles, hydrates the spinal disks and most of all, lengthens and realigns the spine.

What to do? Start by lying on your back. Then, stretch out your sides to the sides with your palms facing down. This brings you to a T position. Hold that position while slowly bending both kneed toward your chest. Exhale and turn both knees toward the left side of your body, sliding your knees as close as possible your left arm. This twists your lower back and spine. Make sure your shoulders stay flat on the floor. Close your eyes, relax and hold the position for 6 to 10 breaths. Release by inhaling and rolling your hips back to the floor. Then, do the position on your right side.

4. Adho Mukha Svanasana

This yoga pose is the downward-facing dog pose. It is a great exercise to do when you’ve overeaten because it helps realign and relax your gastrointestinal tract.

What to do? First, you will need to bend your body toward the floor on your hands and knees. Position your knees directly below your hips while your hands are placed slightly forward. While you spread your palms with your index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, position your toes under. Next, exhale and bring knees up away from the floor. You can bend your knees slightly bent at first and your heels lifted from the floor. Then, stretch your tailbone away from the back of your pelvic bone, pressing it a bit toward the pubis. While in this position, slowly lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling with your inner legs drawn up into the groins. Stretch your fingers while creating a straight line between your elbows and middle fingers. Try to lengthen and straighten your legs and lower your heels. Then, breathe and relax your head between your arms. Hold this position for five breaths.

5. Setu Bandha Savangasana

When you’ve overeaten, you’ll feel bloated and worse, lethargic (from all that food you’ve consumed). By doing this yoga pose, your blood flow will improve, making you feel more energized.

What to do? Start by lying on your back. Then, bend your knees. While your arms are placed beside your body and your feet kept flat on the floor, push your hips up. This gives stretches your chest. To intensify this exercise, you can hold your hands together under your back while bending your knees and back upward.

6. Ardha Matsyendrasana

Also known as the one-legged seated spinal twist pose, it is the kind of yoga posture that offers relief from digestive problems. If you are bloated due to overeating or have a gastric problem, then this is the best pose for you, as it stretches your chest, shoulders and back. Plus, it lengthens your spine to allow you to breathe better.

What to do? To come to this position, sit down and extend your legs. Bend your right knee keeping the heel as close to your body as possible. Then, put your palm on the ground and your left elbow toward the right knee. Hold this position for at least five breaths. Release and repeat this position with the other knee.

7. Baddha Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

(Open Revolved Extended Side Angle Variation)

What makes this yoga pose perfect for when you’ve eaten more than you need is that it helps you to relax better. It’s original position, the revolved side angle pose, is a deep, standing twist form that promotes balance and strength for your core and legs.

What to do? From a down dog position, inhale deeply while moving your right foot forward between your hands. Then, place your left palm on side of your right foot. In order to easily reach your right arm behind you, exhale properly. Open your palm to have it face the ceiling. Put all your weight on your left hand and let your right shoulder to reach as far back as possible to stretch your body even more. Hold it for at least five breaths.

8. Paschimottanasana

Although this yoga pose may seem simple, the seated forward bend pose is a great way to relax and combat stress, which may be affecting your digestion.

What to do? Start by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. With your back kept straight, carefully bend your body forward at the hips, lowering your torso. Stay in this position for at least five breaths.

9. Ustrasana

The ustrasana is also called the camel pose

The ustrasana is also called the camel pose. It allows you to stretch your body, especially your torso. As a result, you get relief from abdominal cramps.

What to do? First, sit on your shins, keeping your knees far apart. While placing both hands on your hip, inhale completely. Then, gently arch your back and exhale to warm up your lower back and quads. Once you feel your muscles start to stretch, extend your hands toward your heels. Be sure not to put all your weight on your hands as they are only used for balancing. To increase the stretch, shift your weight forward into your needs. Keep your head low behind you and hold position for at least five breaths.

10. Marjaryasana And Bitilasana

These are also referred to as the cat and cow poses, both of which warm up your spine and relieve tension especially in your neck and back, allowing you to stretch your body with ease and perform other yoga poses.

What to do? The first thing to do is to get on your hands and knees. Next, inhale and make sure your back is flat while your abs are engaged. Exhale and drop your head, lifting your spine for a cat pose. While you inhale, slowly arch your back and lift your head and butt to come to a cow pose. Switch both poses back and forth. Repeat several times until you’re all warmed up.

Other things to do

It’s so easy to get tempted to munch on all the delicious food during the holiday or a special occasion. What’s difficult is getting relief from the pain and discomfort brought about by overeating. So, aside from performing the yoga poses mentioned above, here are other things you can do to feel better after you’ve eaten a lot.

Drink lots of water.

Keeping yourself hydrated helps you flush out the toxins from your body, as well as improve your digestion. So, drink at least three liters of water every day to feel better in an instant.

Fill your meals with lots of fiber.

You feel bloated when you’ve overeaten because your body wasn’t able to digest and get rid of the waste in your system. This could be resolved by add more fiber in your breakfast. Instead of skipping your morning meal, eat high-fiber cereal or a bowl of oatmeal. This keeps your stomach filled throughout the morning, keeping you from gorging on more food when you get to the office or school.

Freshen up.

Being bloated and constipated makes you feel sluggish and icky. Start your day by freshening up with a hot shower. Be sure to change into fresh clothes, too. This keeps you feeling positive and mentally better despite having stomach problems.

Try to be as physically active as possible.

Instead of lounging on the couch because you feel bloated and generally not feeling well, keep yourself active most of the day. You can walk around the house to stimulate your intestines’ mobility and speed up the movement of food out of your system. But be sure not to do anything strenuous yet.

Make better food choices.

After eating all those scrumptious treats, you might crave for something palatable again. But instead of eating unhealthy food to satisfy your craving, choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and leafy greens instead.

If you still feel like all the food you gorged on the previous day is still in your stomach, don’t get tempted to pop a pill (laxative), as there is no safer way to move food out of your system than the natural way.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.