Yoga for Abdominal Adhesions

Yoga for abdominal adhesions is gaining popularity because it can be a very effective way to support your belly out of adhesions, pain, and dysfunction.  While yoga may not be the only method you need to use to increase your abdominal comfort, it can be a great place to start.

Yoga is an ancient practice and through the five thousand or so years of its development no area of the body, no function of the organs or soft tissues or anything else, has been left unaddressed. Of course, the complete practice of yoga includes much more than the physical exercises we think of as ‘yoga class.’ Yoga also includes a complete system of breathing as well as systems for the thorough cleansing of our bodies, minds, and energies.

But, oh my, that’s a lot to try to take in. We are here to talk specifically about yoga for abdominal adhesions, so let’s just focus on that.

Asana (Yoga Poses)


There are asanas that will not just stretch and strengthen your abdomen, but will also give you very necessary internal organ massages, which have the added benefit of breaking up adhesions. Sound weird? Sound impossible? Well, most of yoga is weird but it’s never impossible – though we often have to find modifications for ourselves while we build up to the strong stuff. (See the blog or the Recover program for much more on asana and deep breathing for adhesions.)

To name a few of the most useful poses for belly adhesion: Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Dhanurasna (bow pose, bound or unbound), and Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (single-leg pigeon pose), in all of their variations. Each of these poses works in a slightly different way and each works on the body on a lot of different levels. Of course the stretch aspect of the poses addresses the muscle and fascia of the abdomen and hips by encouraging more space and fluidity between the low ribs and the hip bones; but they also address the tops of the legs, which, as I talk about in other places are a vital part of the abdomen and belly. They also, when paired with your breathing, create a perfect set-up for the massage of your internal organs.

Of all of the things available to us in yoga, probably the strongest asset we have is our breath. Once you have even a little control over how you breathe, it is possible to start affecting abdominal adhesion. How is that possible? I’m glad you asked.

Pranayama (Yoga Breathing)

When you begin to practice true belly breathing in a regular way many different things happen. Two of the most important happenings are that you start to strengthen your lungs as well as build the capacity to better nourish your bloodstream with oxygen and eliminate toxins like carbon dioxide more efficiently. This, of course, helps everything in your body function better. But, more specifically to our abdomens, when you belly breathe, you are actively massaging your internal organs, nerves, lymph system, and blood vessels. In deep breathing, the diaphragm can massage the heart and lungs along with all of the organs under your ribs while the muscles of your belly, as they expand and contract, massage the “lower down” organs like the intestines, reproductive system, and bladder.

But pranayama (yoga breathing) is much more than just deep breathing. Once you are able to deep-breathe you can then begin to practice the control of your breath – including the speed and force with which it moves in and out of your belly, the speed and force with which it moves through your nose or mouth. You gain the ability to either heat up your system or cool it down, along with a lot of other cool and useful stuff.

Two of the best pranayamas for adhesion are kapalabhati (skull-shining breath) and bhastrika (bellows breath). I think it’s no coincidence that these are two of the four foundational breaths of yoga.

All of the breathing exercises can tone not just your belly muscles but also the organs that they surround and protect. The pranayama also will change the state of your mind and have a significant impact on your stress level.

Now imagine all of that possibility of your breath paired with, say, cobra pose. In this case, you have a beautiful abdominal stretch on the outside paired with your breath that is massaging and toning your organs and other tissues on the inside. That’s powerful stuff.

In addition to breath and the asanas (and using the two together), in yoga we also have the totally wonderful, too often forgotten, amazing, fabulous, totally genius yoga kriyas for the abdomen. (Yes, there are kriyas for non-abdomen areas, too.)

Kriyas (Cleansing Exercises)

Kriya means “to clean,” and a kriya is a strong medicine. In our case we know that too often adhesions result in (or from) small bowel obstructions, chronic constipation, urinary incontinence, and/or chronic bloating of the abdomen. Abdominal kriyas can address all of these things when practiced regularly.

Agni Sara is a belly pumping kriya that I teach in the self-care videos. I love it dearly because it accomplishes so much at once. It strengthens and tones the abdomen inside and out, top and bottom, and also begins the process of moving stagnant material and energy in the belly. It also strengthens your breathing capacity and breath control as the entire thing takes place after you have exhaled and while you are holding your breath out of your body. And yet, for all that, it is remarkably simple to do.

That’s sort of the story of yoga, in my opinion. It’s so simple to do once you know how to do it. Sure, it takes a bit to learn, just like anything, but once you have down the basics suddenly the possibilities become endless.

Abdominal adhesions are a powerful force in our bodies and they need a rather simple, powerful answer that can be used in everyday life. For my money, it doesn’t get much better than yoga.


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