7 Ways Yoga Can Aid Digestion

yogaYoga has always been an activity for finding inner peace and reducing stress. In a more practical sense, it can act more like a pipe cleaner by unclogging your bowels. Cleaning your digestive system is an essential part of health. Over a million people in the US alone suffer from chronic long-term constipation.

In yoga teacher training, young teachers are being taught more about the health benefits of yoga. Clearing the bowels and alleviating constipation can prevent the onset of pain, leakage, and medical conditions like piles.

If you don’t want to be one of the people who spent part of the $725 million laxative bill last year, take up yoga and develop your diet. Whilst trips to yoga retreats can teach you new techniques and purify your insides, it’s no substitute for organic food and lots of roughage.

Here are seven ways in which yoga techniques can enhance your digestion.

1. Aginsar Kriya

 Aginsar Kriyar is a cleansing technique. It’s drawn from a collection of the words ‘fire’, ‘essence’, and ‘action’. Fire is the element of cleansing. And this technique teaches you how to stimulate the digestive system. It resembles a half squat position. It works the abdominal muscles to help move food through the body.

For the best results, do it after a glass of water when you get up. Steadily incorporate more repetitions into the routine to continue improving the digestive movements in the intestines.

2. Nauli

 Nauli is essentially self-massage of the abdominal area. It encourages a more efficient digestive system as it tones the muscles and increases the level of blood circulation, thus enhancing the speed of the process. It takes some practice to fully reap the benefits of this technique.

A regular Nauli practitioner will find they can digest, take in nutrients, and eliminate waste products better. You won’t find this technique in most Western yoga classes.

3. Twists

 Most of our digestion occurs just below the rib cage, where the intestines area. By incorporating slow and methodical twists into your yoga routine, you are squeezing the liver each time. This squeezing of the liver strengthens it and increases the speed at which it processes all the rubbish we consume.

There are many options for twisting. For example, you can sit on the floor and twist your upper body, or stand on your feet and twist your hips. These twists gently caress the liver. Concentrate on your breathing to make this exercise easier.

4. Deep Breathing

 Deep breathing is something all yoga practitioners learn at some point. It calms the body and reduces the stress placed on the internal organs. See deep breathing exercises as a light massage for your digestive organs.

Allow the belly to expand and the diaphragm to move down. Exhale slowly and let it all fall back into its usual position. Do it at a slower pace. Your goal isn’t to force anything through the body. It’s to soften the movement and promote the natural movements of the bowels.

5. Yoga Nidra

 Yoga is the sleep-like state in yoga. Yoga teacher training nearly always involves learning to quiet your mind and concentrate on breathing, the sounds of nature, or just a soothing soundtrack. There are a variety of techniques for this exercise. Ask your yoga teacher about which one works best for you.

If you’re able to enter the dream-like yoga state your stress will melt away. It’s been used on soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to great effect. Remember, a lot of chronic constipation occurs due to stress.

6. Peacock

 The peacock is an ancient yoga technique. In ancient texts describing forms of yoga in Asia and the Far East, those who can successfully perform the peacock technique will gradually develop the ability to digest nails. And most fast and junk food in the modern world isn’t too far from digesting nails!

It isn’t one for the faint hearted. It’s essentially like a push up where you suspend yourself in the air using only your palms. Keeping yourself in this position puts intense pressure on the abdominals and breeds strength within them. This is ideal for helping you digest some of the more unhealthy foods you consume.

Choose one of the major yoga retreats in your area for instruction on attempting this. Click here for more info on some amazing yoga retreats in Costa Rica, if you’re going to go for it, then go in style!

 7. Abhyanga on the Stomach

Nauli can feel slightly out of reach for most beginners. An alternative is Abhyanga on the Stomach. It uses the same technique but with your hands. It isn’t as intense, but by gently massaging your stomach with circular movements you can help move everything along to relieve your bowel troubles.

Start with your belly button and move outwards in a clockwise direction. Do this up to five times per session to start seeing the benefits. Traditional Abhyanga requires you to go to the spa. Here, professionals can use soothing coconut oils to infuse these healing essences into your body.

Geoff McCabe

Geoff McCabe owns the Anamaya Body, Mind and Spirit Resort in Costa Rica, along with several eco friendly projects including eco lodges and the Rancho Delicioso eco village and sustainable community

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