Almost everyone knows yoga is great for limbering up tight muscles. Fewer people realize that yoga benefits the organs as well as the muscles. This means yoga can help with the one type of tightness many people are embarrassed to talk about in yoga class – constipation.

This health complaint tends to be more common in people over 50. Since there are many causes of constipation, it makes sense to talk with your doctor. For example, there may be dietary problems that are contributing to your situation.

But, with your doctor’s blessing, here are a few yoga stretches to help you wring and massage the waste matter out of your body. Most yoga teachers also recommend that students use a yoga “trick” in the bathroom to encourage easier release of waste batter. More on this in a second.

In the Bathroom

The typical western chair-style toilet forces your body to work against gravity in order to eliminate waste matter from the body. In contrast, the squatting posture people assume if they have to defecate outdoors, while camping or hiking for instance, lets gravity assist you.

People sometimes roll their eyes and laugh when yoga teachers or other proponents of natural health point out the inherent problem with toilets. However, there is strong evidence to support the health benefits of squatting.

Watch the FREE gentle yoga for seniors video with a focus on hips at the top of this page, or, to order a DVD of the entire series, visit this page.

Chair toilets are popular in countries where people already spend much of their lives sitting. The more often people sit in chairs, the more they lose flexibility in their hips. As a result, by the time they reach their 60s, many people find it very uncomfortable or simply impossible to assume a squatting position.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to squat in order to get over your constipation. There’s a very simple way to adapt your chair toilet in order to gain the benefits of squatting. All that you need is one simple, inexpensive piece of furniture: a stool.

Find a stool of the right height so that when you place your feet on top of it while seated on the toilet, your knees lift higher than your rectum.

Yoga Twists

When you twist, the effect on your body is similar to wringing out a washcloth. Twists help the process of eliminating waste matter from the body. Depending on your degree of flexibility and where you are practicing yoga, you can perform twists from a seated, standing or reclining posture. People with osteoporosis should practice twists slowly, not attempting to go too deep the first time. You can try the very simple reclining twist described here.

Yoga Hip Stretches

Spending all day sitting tightens the muscles in the hips and lower back. In addition to causing pain, those hours of sitting in chairs contribute to constipation. These hip openers help reverse the tightening effects of spending several hours a day in chairs. Try this gentle hip-opening stretch which can be practiced either on a yoga mat on the floor or in bed.

Have you experienced any other benefits of yoga for seniors? What would you say to someone who is considering trying yoga for the first time? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical condition. Please check with your doctor before doing any of the exercises listed in this article.

The article is written by Juls Bower, a certified yoga teacher

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