The Benefits of Yoga for IBS


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common disorder of the gut-brain interaction, the bidirectional communication between your brain and gut. It involves cross-talk between your hormonal, immune and nervous systems as well as your gut microbiome.


Therapy for IBS can therefore target any of the above systems. Yoga is one form of therapy that can target your nervous system to optimise digestive health. In fact, one trial found that yoga was equally beneficial as the low-FODMAP diet for reducing IBS symptoms(1). Yoga can also help to cultivate awareness of our internal bodily state (interoception) and contributes to our ability to self-regulate our emotions.


We interviewed gut doctor, yoga teacher and hypnotherapist Dr Rabia to learn more about the benefits of yoga for IBS.


Are there any yoga poses that are particularly beneficial for IBS?

There are 5 particular poses that can be beneficial in supporting gut health. Make sure to listen to your body if something doesn’t feel right, and don’t practice these on a full stomach.

  • Legs up with bolster support (Viparita Karani): This pose uses gravity to recirculate blood flow back to the heart, through the digestive organs & stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It's particularly helpful if stress is a trigger for your IBS.

  • Childs pose (Balasana): A restorative pose with a positive signal to the gut-brain connection.

  • Garland Pose (Malasana): This pose allows the pelvic floor to relax, which is especially helpful should you struggle with constipation.

  • Supported Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana): A gentle stretch/massage through the abdominal wall. Useful if you suffer from bloating.

  • Abdominal Massage: Great for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (your body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode) after a long, busy day!

Read more about the benefits of these poses and how to do them by heading to YogaMatters to read Dr Rabia’s full blog post.


Are any/all of the beneficial yoga poses for IBS accessible to those who are pregnant?

Yes, but if you are pregnant, I would always recommend attending a prenatal yoga class.


For how long would someone need to practice yoga to see benefits to their IBS symptoms?

There is no fixed rule. My advice would be to practice consistently in a way that suits your body and your needs.


How / where should someone practice yoga (online or in-person)?

Choose a method and a practice that suits your needs. You can find yoga videos for IBS on my website.


Additional support:

For Yoga: www.doctor-rabia.com For Dietetic Support: www.citydietitians.co.uk

To enquire about ‘The Gut Approach Programme’, our food & mood programme run by Dr Rabia & Sophie Medlin: enquiry@citydietitians.co.uk


References & Further Reading

  1. Randomised clinical trial: yoga vs a low-FODMAP diet in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (2017) - Schumann, D., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G., Cramer, H.

  2. Effect of Yoga in the Therapy of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review (2016) - Schumann, D. et al.

  3. 5 Yoga Poses to Support Gut Health on YogaMatters


Photo Credit: YogaMatters