Can YOGA help your digestive health?
By Angela Villavicencio
All this talk on the gut has skyrocketed in the last year. The more we learn about it, the more we realize how the gut is key to radiant health. We could see the digestive system like a mirror of what is going on inside the body; what affects the gut can ultimately affect what goes on in the rest of our bodies, and vice versa (Butera, 2010). A common example is stress: when we are stressed out our bodies respond by shunting blood flow away from our digestive system so that nutrients and oxygen can get to other major muscle groups. This works well if we are under immediate danger, but if we are constantly stressed for long periods of time this can lead to a series of digestive issues as well as other health problems. Yoga poses can help because they massage our digestive organs, freeing the body from toxins and aiding nutrients to enter into our cells. Deep breathing during yoga can also be beneficial by triggering a calm state, which reduces the stress response. Below are three simple yoga poses to help you get started for better digestion!
3 Yoga Poses to Maintain Digestive Health
Cat/ Cow Pose
From all fours, bring the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Take a deep breath and arch your back into cat pose. Then exhale, and round your back into cow pose. Repeat the movements with the breath for 10-20X.
Knees to Chest
Lie down and bend your knees. Bring your hands in front of your shins. Hold for 20 seconds – 1 minute while taking deep breaths.
Stand tall. Place your feet next to each other and hip distance apart. With an exhalation fold forward and bring the hands to rest in front of your thighs. You can hold your elbows. Repeat movement 2-5X.
Eating as Meditative Practice
One of the ways yoga contributes to healthy digestion is through meditative eating. People tend to eat in a rush, and sometimes even eat and walk. The ability to slow down and make healthier food choices is important for optimal digestion. Below is a short meditative eating guide for digestion.
Before you eat, sit down at a table and practice deep breathing before you start eating. Take a bite and be aware of each taste, smell, temperature, and texture. As you take the first few bites, be aware of your body, breath, and mental state. Sit in a way that you feel comfortable. Be mindful of your posture. Remain fully aware of the process of chewing and swallowing. Once the meal is complete, remain aware that the food has passed into your stomach and that digestive process continues.