What Is The Effect Of Yoga On The Liver?

Written by Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe on Wed, 16 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • The liver performs various functions and acts as a filter for the toxins produced in the body.
  • Various Liver related diseases have emerged due to unhealthy eating habits and urban lifestyle
  • Yoga can prevent these diseases and help the liver stay healthy and perform its role in the human body
  • Yoga can maintain normal levels of lipid in serum
  • Yoga poses can prevent the accumulation of gall stones in the gall bladder

The liver is an extremely important organ in the body. It is the largest internal organ in the body. It produces and secretes bile juice which is important for digestion. It plays a vital role in the homeostasis and healthy functioning of the body.

Liver Functions And Disorders:

The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile. This helps carry away waste products from the liver. All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down balances and creates the nutrients, and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic. More than 500 vital functions have been identified in the liver. Some of the more well-known functions include the following:

  • Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
  • Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
  • Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
  • Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy) and to balance and make glucose as needed
  • Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
  • Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
  • Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea (urea is an end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine)
  • Clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
  • Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells. If there is an accumulation of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow.

When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine.

Now that we know the functions of the liver, we must also be aware of the diseases that may be caused by damaged liver functioning.

There are many kinds of liver diseases:

  • Diseases caused by viruses, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Diseases caused by drugs, poisons, or too much alcohol. Examples include fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.
  • Liver cancer
  • Inherited diseases, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson disease

Symptoms of liver disease can vary, but they often include swelling of the abdomen and legs, bruising easily, changes in the color of your stool and urine, jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes.

The poor functioning of the liver is due to changes in lifestyle, wrong dietary habits, lack of physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs, etc. Also, liver disorders like Jaundice, Cirrhosis, and Hepatitis, can bring change in the albumin and globulin levels.

Albumin and Globulin are proteins that are made by the liver. Albumin keeps the fluid in our bloodstream and prevents it from leaking into any other tissues. It is also responsible for supplying hormones, vitamins, enzymes, etc throughout the body. Globulin is a group of proteins in the blood. They play an important role in liver function, blood clotting, and fighting infection. And thus, any change in their levels can cause liver-related disorders.

How Can These Liver Disorders Be Prevented With Yoga?

One of the ways to keep the body healthy is the practice of Yoga, which soothes both mind and body. Yoga therapy is a method, where the treatment is done through Yogic practices. It is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative medicine approaches. It brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.

Yoga has many styles, forms, and intensities. The core components of the most general yoga are:

  • Poses: Also called postures, or asanas, yoga poses are a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. In a simple posture, you might lie on the floor while completely relaxed. A difficult posture may have you stretching your physical limits.
  • Breathing: Controlling your breathing is an important part of yoga. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind.
  • Meditation or relaxation: In yoga, you may incorporate meditation or relaxation. Meditation may help you learn to be more mindful and aware of the present moment without judgment.

Breathing Exercises In Yoga:

Pranayama is a breathing exercise that is known for boosting the liver health of those who suffer from liver cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and other diseases.

Kapalbhati Pranayama is a yoga exercise that aids in liver stimulation and the management of a variety of liver problems effectively. Studies have found that by practicing yoga exercises or poses, one can improve and maintain your liver so that it functions properly and stays healthy. Yoga is a superb way to stimulate this important organ and vitalize it. When you are practicing yoga exercises to help your liver, remember always to focus on your breathing.

Yoga To Detox The Liver:

The liver breaks down and flushes out harmful substances from our bodies. It acts as a filter. If the filter itself gets clogged, how will efficient detoxification happen? That is why liver detoxification is extremely important. There are numerous benefits of doing yoga for liver detox. Yoga stimulates and strengthens the liver, improving its functioning. It is a non-invasive way to detox the liver and keep it healthy. The liver acts as the gatekeeper for your body. Everything that the body ingests and digests goes through the liver which is evolved to handle our biological waste.

Yoga can play an important role in keeping the liver healthy and running efficiently. Specific yoga postures are known to stimulate your liver; these are Locust Pose, Frog Pose, Downward Dog, Garland Pose, etc. By practicing these postures and combining exercise with a healthy lifestyle, you can bring health and vitality to this vital organ of your system. Practice these 5 poses regularly to stay healthy and keep your liver functioning smoothly.

1. Shalabasana (Locust Pose)

Formation of the posture

  • Lie down flat on your stomach with your palms placed under your thighs
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) and then lift your legs together
  • Ensure that your knees remain straight and your feet are together
  • Place your chin or forehead on the ground

Hold the posture for 10 seconds, slowly bringing your legs down, and then exhale breath (Rechak) - This breathing technique is therapeutic.

 2. Adomukhi Svanasana

Formation of the posture 

  • Start on your fours, ensuring palms are under the shoulders and knees below the hips
  • Lift the hips, straighten the knees and elbows, and form an inverted 'V' shape
  • Now keep the hand's shoulders width apart. Fingers point ahead
  • Put pressure on your palms and open your shoulder blades
  • Try to push your heels to the floor
  • Keep your eye focused on your big toes
  • Hold for eight to ten breaths

3. Naukasana

Formation of the posture

  • Lie down on your back
  • Lift your upper and lower body to balance your sitting bones.
  • Your toes must be aligned with your eyes
  • Keep your knees and back straight
  • Keep your arms parallel to the ground and pointing forward
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles
  • Straighten your back
  • Inhale and exhale normally

4. Malasana

Formation of the posture

  • Begin by standing straight with your arms by the sides of your body
  • Bend your knees, lower your pelvis and place it over your heels
  • Ensure that your feet remain flat on the floor
  • You may either place your palms on the floor beside your feet or join them in front of your chest in a gesture of prayer
  • Spine remains erect

5. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Formation of the posture:

  • Lie down flat on your stomach with palms placed under your shoulders
  • Keep your feet together, with toes on the ground
  • Inhale completely (Purak), hold your breath (Kumbakh) and then lift your head, shoulders, and torso up at a 30-degree angle
  • Ensure that your navel remains on the floor, your shoulders are broad, and your head is slightly raised upwards
  • Pressure on your toes- This activates the Sun (Right) and Moon (Left) channels which are connected to your lower back
  • Hold the posture for 10 seconds
  • Slowly bring your torso down and then exhale breath (Rechak) - This breathing technique is therapeutic.

Along with these yoga poses for liver detox, you can also add Kapalbhati Pranayama to your daily routine.

Kapalbhati is a powerful breathing exercise that not only cleanses the liver but helps you achieve perfect balance within the body. Sit cross-legged, keep your spine erect and inhale deeply, breathing out forcefully through the nostrils. It is recommended to do this breathing technique every day for 15 minutes for fortifying liver health. You can start by practicing for 3-5 minutes and gradually increase the duration.

Many people claim to practice yoga for liver and its health benefits. Yoga focuses on physical exercises consisting of various postures and breathing techniques. A growing body of research evidence supports the belief that certain yoga techniques may improve physical and mental health.

Yoga And Serum Lipid Levels:

Obesity and increased body weight are strong risk factors for heart disease and hypertension. Yoga is particularly helpful in the management of obesity. A study revealed that practicing yoga for a year helped significant improvements in the ideal body weight and body density. The regular practice of yoga has been shown to improve the serum lipid profile (level of lipid in the serum) in patients with known heart disease as well as in healthy people.

Yoga And Gall Stones In Liver Cirrhosis:

Do you know what are gallstones? It is the hardened stone formation made of bile that grows in your gall bladder. The function of a gallbladder is to store bile, which is the digestive juice in your body. The liver is responsible for bile secretion and it breaks the soluble and insoluble fats for better absorption. When bile gets stored in your gallbladder for some time, cholesterol starts producing there. Due to more cholesterol, there is a risk of stone formation in varying sizes. This risk gets amplified if you have liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a major risk factor for gallstones. It is very difficult to naturally flush out stones but you can get pain relief. Yoga is an excellent way to enhance digestion and manage gallstones.

In some cases, gallstones are not painful. They might stay in the gallbladder for a long time without causing any pain. Pain can trigger if the gallbladder tries to push the stones out of the gallbladder through the bile duct. Many home remedies can help in getting rid of this pain.
There are many beneficial yoga asanas for liver problems. This list includes the bow pose, peacock pose, spinal twist, and Narayan pose (lying on the left side). Yoga poses can help in preventing the storing of bile in the gallbladder. These postures will improve the circulation in your gallbladder, further preventing the crystallization process.

Want to try out so yoga for liver problems? Read on to find out the steps and benefits of yoga for liver cirrhosis and gall stones.

1. Bow Pose:

Dhanurasana or bow pose can help in improving your gallbladder and many other different organ functions as it gives a therapeutic massage internally. This asana helps in strengthening your back and abdominal muscles while providing a good stretch.

  • Lie down on your stomach and bend your legs with the support of your knees
  • You have to touch your back and hold the heels using your arms and hands
  • Instead of lifting your body, you can let your ankles go backward like you are stretching your shoulders as much as you can, also allowing your chest to come off the floor
  • You have to hold this asana along with your breath to gently move the body back and forth in a to and fro movement

A great yoga asana for liver problems

2. Spinal Twists:

Spinal twists can also help in providing relief from gallstones. This is an easy form of exercise that can be practiced at home. Spinal twists help in enhancing your gallbladder function, further softening the gallstone for easy flushing out process, and can also help prevent this condition.

  • Lie down straight and keep your right foot flat on the floor outside the left knee and then the left leg to the right
  • Then, keep your left ankle on the opposite side of the right buttock
  • Keep your left arm outside the right leg along with the left hand and hold this position
  • Turn your body to the right side with your arm behind the back
  • Turn your back and the neck as much as possible without too much strain. Repeat this with the other leg as well

One of the easiest and best yoga poses for liver complications!

3. Narayan Pose:

Narayan pose is beneficial in improving organ function and alleviating the pain caused by gallstones. You can prevent this condition with the Narayana pose as it is a good stretch for your body.

  • Lie down on your left side of the body with the arms stretched and behind the end
  • You can even raise your head with your hand's help and support. Till then, your right foot should stay on the left foot
  • You have to hold this pose for at least 10-15 minutes

Along with these yoga poses, one should also avoid fried foods, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, and different fatty foods, especially animal fat and saturated fats.


To conclude, this article postulates that mind-body exercise such as yoga and breathing exercises not only benefits the physical health of an individual but also, it requires focus and improves the mental strength of the individual. It also triggers neurohormonal mechanisms that bring about health benefits. Thus, it reduces stress and anxiety and improves brain functioning. It also improves the physical health of cancer patients. Yoga has many health benefits which include the prevention of many liver disorders.

A healthy liver is really important for the maintenance of a healthy and fit individual. And to keep a healthy liver, it is highly recommended for individuals to perform yoga from an early age to avoid life-threatening disorders caused due to poor condition of the liver.

To know more about different health conditions and their management,


Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe

Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe (M. B. B. S) is a MPH  candidate at the University of Manchester. Dr Odoh is also currently a member of the Society of Lifestyle Medicine Nigeria, and aiming to get certified by the International board of lifestyle medicine as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician by the last quarter of 2022.

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