Yoga is an excellent way to target and challenge your strength, endurance, and mental strength. However, while most folks solely focus on the benefits of yoga, it’s important to note the potential not-so-nice side effects. While they’re entirely normal, these side effects won’t be the most enjoyable part of integrating yoga into your day.
For example, you might notice a rush of emotions (where did those come from?) during specific flows. Or, your excitement for the practice might wane if you find one session too easy or boring. In some scenarios, you might even experience diarrhea after class. While these side effects don’t seem like something yoga could cause, they’re entirely normal side effects of the practice.
Here’s what you should know.
Can Yoga Upset Your Stomach?
Perhaps you just finished a killer hot yoga class, and instead of feeling the accomplished exuberance you expected, you suddenly feel a wave of nausea. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect of yoga, especially in more strenuous flows.
In some cases, you might feel nauseous, often resulting from eating too soon (or eating nothing at all) before class. Moving through certain poses can put pressure on your abdomen, which compresses your digestive system and can make you feel uncomfortable and nauseous.
If you eat a large meal too soon before class, these poses can cause food to move through your digestive system too quickly, which can result in feelings of cramping, pain, and indigestion. Water can also cause similar feelings – if you’ve ever consumed a considerable amount of water in a short period, you’re probably familiar with the cramping, painful sensations you might experience.
This can happen if you consume too much water right before class, as the sheer amount of fluid in your system can lead to discomfort as you breathe through each move.
Luckily, these issues are easy enough to avoid. Stick to small, light snacks about 30 minutes to an hour before class starts. Avoid eating large, calorie-dense meals right before class, as they can trigger feelings of nausea as you start moving continuously.
While you should remember to stay hydrated (especially if you’re doing hot yoga), avoid drinking large amounts of water right before class. Drink larger amounts of water a few hours before class, then slow your water consumption to a few sips in the time leading up to class.
Once you finish the session, remember to rehydrate. If you sweat profusely during your yoga session, you might want to add an electrolyte mix to your water to help replenish those lost from sweating.
Can Yoga Cause Diarrhea?
Surprisingly enough, yoga can cause diarrhea, especially after intense sessions. It isn’t the only exercise that can cause this, as other athletes experience the same thing, especially after running. Generally, folks who experience exercise-induced diarrhea notice the change in their stool after intense, longer-lasting workouts.
So, if you recently did a 90-minute Bikram yoga session and experienced a bout of diarrhea shortly after, there’s a good chance the two are correlated. While it might seem concerning, occasional diarrhea due to exercise isn’t anything to worry about.
There are a few theories suggesting the reasoning behind this correlation, but there isn’t a singular concrete cause. Some experts think that the jostling of the body (such as on a run) can stir the bowels, leading to looser stool.
Other experts think it could be increased blood flow to the legs during intense exercise, leading to cramping and diarrhea. Exercise may exacerbate these symptoms if you suffer from lactose or fructose intolerance, leading to looser stool.
However, while diarrhea after exercise isn’t usually a cause for concern, it may illuminate underlying syndromes or diseases that are exacerbated due to exercise. For example, underlying irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) might flare up after exercise. If the problem persists, it doesn’t hurt to see a doctor regarding the issue to ensure there isn’t something more serious going on.
How Do You Treat Exercise-Related Diarrhea?
The proper treatment plan to deal with exercise-induced diarrhea depends on what is causing the issue. If the problem is flaring up due to underlying conditions (IBS, IBD, or fructose/lactose intolerance), you need to address those problems first. After finding a treatment plan for the condition, your symptoms after exercise may dissipate or disappear entirely.
On the other hand, if you don’t suffer from any particular condition, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure you’re hydrating well. Exercise can dehydrate you (sweat loss), but combined with diarrhea (which also dehydrates your body), you can quickly become seriously dehydrated.
Dehydration can exacerbate your symptoms, making them considerably worse than before. So, ensure you’re replenishing your body after exercise and when you experience these symptoms with plenty of water. If you struggle to consume enough water, mix it up with broth or electrolyte-rich sports drinks or water additives (ideally, those without sugar, which can further dehydrate you).
If the diarrhea persists, stick with a bland diet until the symptoms subside. Choose foods with natural probiotics, as these can help restore the healthy bacteria in your gut which is disrupted by diarrhea. Foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are good options in these scenarios.
What Happens To Your Body When You Start Yoga?
Yoga is an excellent addition to your day – it challenges and strengthens your body and mind, one session at a time. The physical advantages of a regular yoga practice are extensive, as yoga targets your strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance.
As you continue to build your skills, you’ll likely notice you become stronger, more balanced, have a better range of motion, and can hold poses for longer. Daily tasks in your life might become more manageable as your body strengthens itself, and you might even notice relief in chronic pain, such as lower back pain or pain associated with arthritis.
Aside from these effects, you also might notice you get better sleep. Many folks who have adopted a bedtime yoga routine have noted the benefits of how rapidly they fall asleep and how well they remain asleep.
Most folks are familiar with the physical benefits of yoga, but many fail to acknowledge the mental benefits of the practice. The National Institute of Health states that scientific evidence proves yoga can help you manage stress. Yoga can also ward off negative feelings, helping you stick to brighter moods more often.
How Long Does It Take To Notice Changes From Yoga?
With a regular yoga routine, you might notice the benefits immediately. You might notice you sleep better or feel more energetic, have better moods, and experience less stress. While these effects might take hold immediately, the physical transformation will take longer.
Like most exercise programs, it usually takes between 6 and 12 weeks to see results from yoga. Of course, seeing changes requires you to practice consistently and adjust other areas of your life that can impact weight loss (sleep, diet, stress, etc.).