Yoga For IBD

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

Yoga was developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India some 2,000 years ago  and is fairly common today. Its goal is to develop both physical and emotional strength, while relaxing the practitioner. That makes yoga beneficial for many people.

Some of the demonstrated benefits of yoga include improved asthma control, reduction in pain from arthritis or back problems, improvement in mood disorders including depression and anxiety, and reduction in insomnia. It may also encourage better eating habits.

If those reasons aren’t enough to get you posing with the best of them, the benefit for Inflammatory Bowel Disease might!** What does the research say?**

According to a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, patients with IBD who practiced yoga saw lower incidence of arthralgia (joint pain), reduced intestinal pain and also were able to lower their overall anxiety. While a reduction in anxiety may seem like the least of the benefits, it is essential to having a good quality of life and coping when you have a chronic illness. So don’t sell it short.

Who should try yoga?

First and foremost, please get your doctor’s permission before starting any exercise program. If you have a feeding tube, stoma or ostomy bag, your yoga practice may need to be modified to reduce abdominal pressure. The 100 participants in the study mentioned were also in remission from active IBD flare ups.

What type of yoga is most beneficial?

One hour of modified yoga practice consisting of physical postures, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation were used in the study of IBD patients. There are many types of yoga that utilize all of these factors, so find the one that you enjoy and stick with it. Check out these yoga poses for better digestion and SaraBethYoga’s video for examples of yoga practices that may help you get started.

See More Helpful Articles:

Six Ways to Prepare for an Ulcerative Colitis Flare

Doctor Q&A: How to Manage Ulcerative Colitis

Different Types of Colitis

Sleep and Diet Changes May Help IBD Patients

Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).