Yoga is a 3000-year-old discipline, but it was only with the first randomized trial conducted by The Lancet in 1975 that we began to understand the physical and mental benefits of this practice.
And, as the body of research grows, other positive effects on more parts of the body are uncovered – including the liver.
But how does yoga help with liver health? Start by introducing the following poses – or asanas – into your daily practice!
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
One of the main reasons for adding a yoga practice to your daily routine is its ability to induce relaxation and lower stress levels.
In particular, spending between a few seconds and 10 minutes in Child’s Pose can help you relax, gently stretch your hips and lower back, and improve blood (and oxygen) circulation.
Since blood circulation and liver health are inherently related, stimulating blood flow can boost hepatic functions.
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Studies conducted in 2018 by the Journal of Liver Research have shown that regular exercise is key to improving liver health and managing Fatty Liver Disease. But exercise is also important to boost the health and functioning of the entire digestive system, of which the liver is an essential component.
In particular, practicing the Garland Pose as part of your daily yoga flow can strengthen the hips and groin, while also aiding digestion and stimulating the excretion of waste.
Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)
The Locust Pose, alongside other more advanced back-bending poses such as the Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), may boost hepatic function by gently stimulating and massaging the liver.
What’s more, safely practicing backbends can boost the mobility and flexibility of the spine, hips, and thighs. In turn, this can protect circulatory health and prevent diseases such as carotid atherosclerosis, which is associated with hepatic steatosis and fibrosis in people with Fatty Liver Disease.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
More studies are necessary to understand how spinal twists support detoxification. However, yoga postures such as the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose and Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) can support spine flexibility, blood circulation, and digestive health.
Additionally, gentle twists can stimulate internal organs such as the liver and facilitate the passing of gas.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
In yoga, the Downward Dog pose is considered to be arresting posture – and, for more than a reason!
While it might take you some time to adapt to this posture, Adho Mukha Svanasana can boost circulation, support blood circulation to the upper body (similarly to other inverted poses), and relieve tension and stress, which might worsen inflammation.
Naukasana (Boat Pose)
Unlike some of the postures above, the Boat Pose is a strengthening posture. When practicing Boat Pose, you will be engaging the muscles in your core, thus strengthening the support system of your liver.
Even more importantly, exercise can improve inspiratory muscle strength, thus boosting the quality of life of people living with Liver Disease and helping candidates for liver transplantation.
Pranayama For Healthy Liver
Pranayama, which translates to “vital life force”, is the yogic term for breathing techniques.
Coupled with meditative practices, breathing techniques such as Kapalbhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breathing Technique) and Anulom Vilom Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) have been seen to help with lowering stress.
In turn, stress management can restore the normal function of the immune system, thus lowering inflammation. Since high levels of inflammation are the cause of liver conditions such as Liver fibrosis and Cirrhosis, practicing relaxation techniques can boost overall live health.
Pro tip – Breathing techniques and meditative practices have also been seen to help with alcohol addiction recovery. If you wish to support your rehab journey with mindfulness-based relapse prevention techniques, get in touch with Roots Through Recovery.
How Does Yoga Improve Liver Health?
Practicing yoga can have beneficial effects in multiple aspects of your life that are directly connected to liver health.
For example, yoga offers mental benefits like relieving chronic stress patterns, anxiety, and stress. In turn, living a calmer, more centered life can help you establish habits that support liver health, such as limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and following a more nutritious diet.
Make sure to find a type of yoga practice that you thoroughly enjoy and can easily introduce into your daily routine.