Hippocrates quotes that ‘Bad digestion is the root of all evil.’ Ever realized that the mind and the gut are strongly connected? Too much stress, butterfly effects in the stomach, too depressed to eat, repeated bathroom visits before heading out or hesitating to ‘go’ under new circumstances proves this! We even call the GI tract as the ‘second brain’ as the tract lining contains millions of nerve cells that convey minute-by-minute feedback on thoughts, emotions and the body’s overall well-being. It is not surprising that gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are commonly found to occur along with psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Yoga for the Dual Effect
Yoga is a group of mental, physical and spiritual practices that serve beneficial in several ways. Yoga can serve to keep both, the mind and body active thereby helping in providing digestive relief too. The yoga asanas or postures trigger blood flow, massages digestive organs and relieves gas. Pranayama (breathing exercise) and meditation is a great stress buster and heightens an individual’s awareness of stress sources in his/her life for chronic management. There are different yoga practices and various meditation techniques each contributing towards better health in possible ways.
Assuming the digestive system as a juicer, digestive enzymes as juicer blades, body toxins as fruit waste and energy as juice, if any of the juicer parts don’t do their work properly, then the entire juicing process collapses. If the juicer blades (enzymes) don’t spin as expected, the juicer produces less juice and there is ample toxin (fruit waste) accumulation in the cells. A supple digestive system is driven by proper digestive enzymes. Yoga helps to make these enzymes do their work properly and helps improve digestion:
Sit down (if possible) on a cushion or blanket placing your hands on your knees or in your lap and sit straight (but not rigid). Close your eye and breathe normally. Observe your breathing pattern whether it is shallow or long, whether there is easy flow of air through your nose into your lungs and into the abdomen or are your abdominal muscles tense? Examine your body from head to toe searching for tension areas in the body and relieving stress by sending breath to those areas. Stress creates equal havoc just like other disorders to the body, details of which are available at www.firsteatright.com.
Cat Cow: Go on a table-top position using your hands and knees. Keep your elbow and wrists under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Inhale to cow pose. bend your head to the ceiling and sway back so that your belly drops to the ground and the sitting bones tilt up to the ceiling. Exhale to cat pose by looking down at the ground. Alter between these two poses in sync with your own breath.
Seated side bend: Sit crossed leg and bend such that the crown of your head reaches up toward the ceiling. Maintain relaxed shoulders, keep one arm up toward the ceiling and the other on the ground in your side. Bend the raised arm and keep it pointing towards the direction of the arm placed on the ground. Press the hip bone on the same side as your raised arm into the ground.
Revolved triangle: Standing up, stretch one leg back about a leg’s length. Hip bones must face forward, fold over the front leg and keep your back leg flat and leveled. Some people find it useful to keep a stack of books to rest their hands as this helps to keep the legs and back straight and hips aligned. Place the hand opposite to the front leg on the ground besides the stretched front leg and stretch the other hand up to the sky.
Bow: Lie down on your stomach and reach back with both your hands holding your ankles. Every time you press your hands into your ankles breathe in and then breathe out. Every breath will gently rock the body and massage the lower abdominals.
Knee to chest (wind removing position): Lie flat on the ground and bring one knee to your chest holding it with both arms. Next, bring both knees to the chest. Going side to side helps you massage the low back and kidneys.
Legs up the wall: Savasana or corpse position is the final resting position in yoga sequences and keeping your legs up the wall is a fun and restorative alternative. Individuals usually sustain in this position for anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
Forward fold: Inhale, stretch your arms overhead and look up. Exhale and bow forward into a fold. You can grab your opposite elbows, keep bowing down and hang there to release tension in the upper back or place hands on the ground with palms facing upward to stretch the wrists.
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