If you are plagued with chronic indigestion, yoga could become your gut’s BFF…
In yoga, the metabolic energy of digestion is often referred to as Agni – the one that burns up food to release the energy so very vital to all bodily processes. In Ayurveda too, digestion is key to a healthy body and mind for it is believed that poor digestion and an unhealthy gut is the underlying cause for many diseases and disorders. A poor or weak digestive system does not properly process the food that we eat, which means there’s less energy for us and more toxins accumulate in the body.
How would yoga be helpful?
Yoga helps in two ways. Firstly, yoga is good exercise and when we are fit, our body will be able to process the accumulated toxins and be rid of them faster. Exercise improves all bodily processes, including digestion, thereby making us healthier from the inside out. The second and perhaps more important way that yoga is helpful is by combining exercise with the right kind of breathing. Our lungs rid ourselves of bodily waste and toxins through the exhaled breath – this kind of deep breathing is key to a healthier body.
5 asanas to improve digestion
While all yoga will work in tandem to give you a healthier body and mind, inside and out, some yoga poses specifically target the digestive system. Here are 5 asanas that will definitely aid you in better digestion, and are easy enough for almost everyone to attempt.
- The Cow-Cat Pose (Bitilasana-Marjariasana): Crouch on the floor, with your hands beneath your shoulders with arms extended and your knees below your hips, keeping the legs from knee to toe flat on the ground. To do the cow pose, inhale and bring your navel down towards the ground while keeping your head, shoulders and hips up. Now exhale into the cat pose where you arch your back upwards while you gaze at your navel, pressing your hands, knees and feet into the earth. Inhale back into the cow pose and repeat each pose 5 times, breathing deeply. This pose compresses and lengthens the intestines alternatively, thus stimulating the gut to turn healthy.
- The Triangle Pose (Trikonasana): Stand with your legs apart. Now take your right leg into a forward lunge and straighten the leg with your foot pointed sideways. The left foot should be pointing straight, at a 90-degree angle to the right foot. Both the heels should be flat on the ground. Bending sideways, place your right hand on your right shin or on the floor beside, and your left arm pointing straight upwards; remember to keep the knees straight and unbent. Turn your head to look up at your left hand. Straighten and switch legs. This pose compresses and releases the colon, thus stimulating it into action.
- The Bridge Pose (Setubhanda Saravangasana): Lie flat on your back with your feet pulled as close as possible to your hip bone, knees bent. Place your arms on either side of your body, palm up and close to your feet. Take a deep breath and then exhaling; raise your spine towards the sky. Holding the pose, inhale and exhale 5 times before slowly lowering your spine downwards. This pose improves circulation and eliminates the fatigue associated with a sluggish digestion.
- The Half Gas Release Pose (Ardha Pawanmuktasana): Lie down flat on your back in the corpse pose (savasana). Take a deep breath and, exhaling, bend and lift your right leg, bringing it close to your chest. Wrap your hand around your thigh just below the bent knee and without elevating your upper body, press in your leg, trying to bring it closer to you. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, breathing normally. Lower your leg and repeat with the left one. As far as the benefit is concerned, we think the name of the pose is a tad self-explanatory here. By stimulating the right ascending colon and the left descending colon, this pose stimulates faster neural action, thus aiding in elimination of bodily waste.
- The Corpse Pose (Savasana): This asana may seem like you’re not doing anything but what it helps you do is completely and utterly relax – this in turn calms the body’s nervous system and helps in swifter and sharper bodily functions. To do the pose, lie flat on your back with your legs splayed open and arms to the side. Make yourself as limp and boneless as possible. Empty your mind, breathe deeply and lie as still as possible for 5-10 minutes.
There are many other things you can do to improve your digestion, but do give yoga a try too for it is an age-old, proven way to get optimum bodily functions.
If you have a digestive story to share, do write into us in the comment section below…