7 Ways Yoga Can Aid Digestion
Yoga is a multi-functional tool. It helps to resolve many issues that get in the way of connecting to your true self. Times change, people change, but yoga is still relevant in what it can do for each one of us.
One of the recent problems plugging society is chronic constipation. If you are feeling heavy and bloated, you are among the 100 million Americans who may not have regular daily bowel movements. Okay, this may not be anyone's favorite topic, but did you know that Americans spend over $725 million on laxatives each year?!
When one’s body feels clean and empty, yoga practice becomes a lot easier, and more natural, as does life. It’s easier to meditate, to feel at peace, and to feel at home living in a body that is free of waste. You need to take care of your body by keeping the sewage system clean.
As a yogi, you have tools at your disposal that many other people don't. You can adapt your yoga practice to address the issue of digestion just the same way you adjust your diet to address your needs.
Here are a few yoga practices that you can add to your routine to help attain internal purity:
1. Agnisar Kriya - This cleansing technique draws its name from the words Agni (Fire), Sar (Essence) and Kriya (Action). Fire is the essential element of digestion, and this cleansing action stimulates this digestive fire to work at its optimum level. It is easy to learn, and takes just a few minutes a day. Do it first thing in the morning after a glass of water. Let it burn, baby, burn! Click here for a video that will show you exactly how to learn it
2. Nauli - This technique takes a little bit more practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Similar to Agnisar, it is said to improve digestion, assimilation and elimination. It is similar to self-massage of the abdominal area. It helps to tone muscles in the abdominal area and improves circulation. Click here to learn about this one.
3. Twists - Most twists directly affect the area below the ribcage where most digestion happens. Twists squeeze your body's most important detox player, the liver, hastening an inner cleanup of all the junk we consume. While doing a twist, focus on the breath. Don't rush out of them; spend at least 8-10 breaths on each side.
4. Deep breath - Deep breathing is similar to a mild massage for the digestive organs. There are several different pranayama practices to choose from, but the essence stays the same. Inhale and let your belly expand from the diaphragm moving down, and on the exhale relax the stomach and let it fall in. The key here is not to force the movement of the stomach but to reduce all the tension that might get in the way of this natural movement. Especially when you exhale, don't contract the stomach, but fully relax and soften it. It will naturally go toward the spine.
5. Yoga nidra - Stress effects digestion in a very adverse way. You need to relax, and things will move along more easily. Try this yoga nidra:
6. Peacock - I love this one! According to ancient traditional texts, a yogi who practices peacock can digest nails. All we are trying to achive is to digest modern day food; let's hope that what you are eating is not worse than nails! Do it after inversions, before restorative poses. Click here to learn this.
7. Abhyanga on the stomach - If Nauli is out of reach for the time being, use your hands. Using coconut or almond oil, gently massage your stomach in circular movements starting from the belly button and moving towards the outer areas in a clockwise direction. It helps everything to move along.