Yoga and meditation ameliorates IBS symptoms.
The following have been noted in patients who have been practicing yoga for 6 weeks or longer:
• Decreased frequency of diarrhea and/or constipation findings
• Decreased severity of IBS findings (gas, diarrhea, constipation)
• Decrease in abdominal pain
• better quality of daily life
• Increased participation in daily activities
• Decrease in stress levels
• Increase in sleep quality
• Reduced levels of fatigue
Stress is one of the top factors that increase IBS findings. Yoga and meditation make it easier to cope with stress and reduces the effects of daily life stress. Deep and long breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, enabling parasympathetic nervous system activity. When the sympathetic system domination diminishes, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body decrease, leaving the individual comfortable and calm. With the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the circulation of the gastrointestinal system improves, the intestines relax and the gastrointestinal symptoms regress.
Doing yoga increases the awareness and fine-tuning to the signals coming from ones body. As awareness increases, more attention is paid to the effects of sleeplessness, stress, consumed foods and drinks; the patients begin to distinguish the beneficial and the harmful. This leads to both a decrease in symptoms and an increase in well being in the long run.
The poses (asanas) with a twist component also act as a massage for intra-abdominal organs, especially the gut. These mild pressure and stretching movements also stimulate the nerve endings on the digestive tract and the gut learns to relax. The twist movements also help to release excess gas from the intestines with the pressure they create.
If your gastroenterologist cannot find any problems with your examination and investigations pertaining to your complaints, she may diagnose you with IBS. After your diagnosis you will receive medical treatment and diet recommendations. Adding yoga to your medical treatment and diet regimen will help with your healing process. However, it is important not to approach yoga with a sense of overachievement or success. It is also very important to listen to your body and not to over do the asanas. Both will eventually lead to injuries. Another fact to remember is to take longer time for restorative/relaxation poses at the beginning and end of your sessions.
If you are a patient who has never done yoga, start with restorative yoga, yin yoga and/or yoga therapy (Viniyoga) lessons. Never force yourself or stress out; as you get stronger you can continue with Hatha yoga classes.