Improve Digestion the Yoga Way!

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

Yoga has been found to be very beneficial in treating the symptoms of chronic constipation. Depending on significant factors such as weight and diet, your intestines can become latent with fat deposits causing the slowing of the digestion process.  There are several initiatives that can be taken to regulate your digestive system, stimulate the colon, and increase the elimination of unwanted toxins within the body. Being consistent in your yoga practice may help to get rid of reoccurring issues pertaining to constipation. Yoga has become an instrument to help aid in firing up the metabolism.

The digestive process works by absorbing nutrients such as fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals from the food we ingest. These nutrients absorbed travel through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The waste that cannot be used becomes excreted as fecal matter. Much of the substances consumed are not absorbed in the intestinal wall and therefore travel into the intestine. Traveling through the intestine, the unwanted substances make their way to the colon, which serves as the final destination for these waste materials before they are excreted. The colon consists of three parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, and the descending colon. The ascending colon and descending colon are the main areas of the intestines that are massaged during powerful yoga poses such as Earth Pose. The massaging of these specific areas lends a hand to propel digestion into full gear. Bacteria in the colon also help to digest the remaining food products and will store feces in the rectum until it leaves the digestive system through the anus.

Earth Pose is just one of the many poses in yoga found to be beneficial in helping to speed along the digestive process.  Earth Pose massages the ascending intestine and descending intestine, which stimulates these organs, physically helping to move things along. It also helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles. The stronger our core is, the easier it is to assist in the passage of urine and stool. Some of the other benefits of yoga that help with the digestive process include increasing food absorption, reducing gastric acid, increasing blood circulation and oxygenation to the digestive organs, improving gastrointestinal circulation, decreasing gas, and over time removing/eradicating constipation problems.  Practice Earth Pose to stimulate the colon, especially if you are experiencing problems with digestion. This Pose will help to reverse paralytic peristalsis. Peristalsis is the wave of contraction and relaxation found in the intestine. When slowing of peristalsis occurs, many unwanted digestive issues and disorders can arise.

Earth Pose

 

Child’s Pose

  Breathe deeply  

Earth Pose

Extend left leg back  

Earth Pose
                                                       Extend right leg back  

 

 

                       
Instructions:

  • Come onto your hands and knees. Sit back on your heels in Child’s Pose. Breathe in and out through your nostrils 5-7 breaths.
  • Extend your left leg back. Rest the weight of your upper body on your right thigh. Relax your head in between your arms. Breathe in and out of your nostrils 6-9 times.
  • Repeat earth pose with the right leg extended back behind you.
  • Come back into Child’s Pose. Relax all the muscles in your face, rest, and enjoy.
  • Repeat this sequence 2-3 times. Rest in Child’s Pose for 2-3 minutes before getting up.

Benefits:

  • Lengthens the muscles around the spine.
  • Lengthens the thigh and hip muscles.
  • Nourishes and tones the intestines.
  • Increases blood flow around the head.

Safety Tips:

  • If you have knee discomfort, perform these poses lying on your back.
  • If you have a head cold or sinus condition, elevate your head by placing one hand on top of the other, then rest your forehead on your hands.
  • Always notice how your body feels, and choose the most nourishing choice.
  • If you have knee problems, place a blanket or towel under your knees.

 

Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.” 

 

 

 Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.

 

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