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Yoga

Yoga For Better Digestion

One of the most common themes I see in both my private clients, and group classes is that we - as a whole, tend to have at least some trouble with digestion. While it is ideal to eat as close as possible to the way our ancestors ate, limiting processed foods, alcohol, and sugar - most of us can use a little extra help.

If you are feeling a little sluggish in the tummy - a few simple yoga poses can help to stimulate and massage the digestive organs.

1. Child's Pose / Balasana      

  • Start on all fours and separate your knees a little wider than your hips
  • Sink your bum back to your heels and let your belly drape over your thighs
  • Allow your forehead to rest on the floor (or a prop - blanket/block if your head does not reach the floor)
  • Your arms can be stretched out in front, as pictured, but if it is more comfortable they can be back by your sides

Focus on slowing down your breath, as when the body is in a stressed state, our digestion literally shuts down. Create an equal inhale, and equal exhale, gradually working up to inhaling for a count of 4, and exhaling for a count of 4. Let your body become heavy, and your muscles relax. Stay here for 1 minute.

 

 

2. Seated Twist / Ardha Matsyendrasan

Gently twisting the digestive organs stimulates them to process any food that may become stagnant if not properly digested.

  • Start by sitting down on your yoga mat, and stretch your legs out straight in front of you
  • Pick up your right leg and cross it over your left, to the sole of your right foot is on the outside of your left thigh
  • Place your right hand behind your back on your finger tips, and as you inhale stretch your left arm up towards the ceiling
  • As you exhale, bring your left elblow to the outside of your right leg
  • With gentle, but not forceful pressure, use your breath to deepen your twist
  • Every time you inhale, sit up a little bit taller, and every time you exhale, deepen your twist

Stay here for 5-10 breaths, and when you are ready to come out, do so on an inhale. Repeat on the left side.

 

3. Wind Relieving Pose / Pavanamuktasana 

Eating foods that disagree with us, eating too much or even just eating too quickly can cause a build up of gas in the digestive tract. You may want to practice this pose as part of your home practice, as it is quite effective in living up to its name.

  • Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent, soles of your feet on the floor
  • Draw your right knee into your chest, and interlace your fingers on top of your shin
  • Apply gentle but firm pressure to draw your right knee into your body
  • Slowly let your left leg extend along the mat, and flex your left foot

Stay here for up to five breaths and then switch sides. Make sure you practice the right side first, as the ascending colon is on the right side, and the descending is on the left. Practising in this order allows for the correct movement of waste through the digestive system.

 

4. Knees To Chest / Apanasana 

The benefits of this pose are similar to the wind relieving pose, but it acts as a finishing pose in your digestion sequence.

  • After practicing wind relieving pose on both sides, draw both knees into your chest together and wrap your arms around your shins
  • If you can, grab opposite elbows
  • Lift your head and shoulders off your mat, and draw your forehead towards your knees

Hold for 5 breaths, using the strength of your muscles to make yourself into as compact of a shape as you can. On an exhale breath, release this pose, and rest lying on your back in savasana, legs and arms straight and totally relaxed.

 

This short sequence of poses will help to compress and ring out your digestive organs keeping your digestion efficient and effective. You can practice these poses any time you need to boost your digestion, but I find them especially helpful before breakfast in the morning after a glass of warm lemon water. I like to include these poses are part of my morning routine to keep things 'regular'.

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