By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle
Yoga, an ancient philosophy, offers many techniques to improve and strengthen your overall health. Millions of people around the world today suffer from digestive upsets. Practicing yoga on a daily basis can help to improve your overall digestive health. Your job as a firefighter requires a lot of movement and, many times, quick movement under stressful situations. There is no time for you to feel sluggish or to be uncomfortable.
There are many yoga poses that nourish and massage your internal organs and have great benefits. One of them is Knee to Chest Pose. This is a powerful and easy pose that stimulates the descending and ascending colon. This pose increases the circulation to the intestines, which helps to stimulate the digestive processes. It is an excellent way to stimulate sluggish bowels. This pose massages and lengthens the abdominal area and intestines, facilitating easier digestion.
The benefits of this pose have also been shown to reverse symptoms of chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Continued practice may help to correct or lessen existing symptoms of many forms of bowel disorders. Battling with constipation or IBS can be painful and unpredictable. This pose can be very soothing during a flare-up of IBS. It also helps with lower back pain, stretching the hamstrings, and lengthening the spine. You can nourish and take care of your body with just a few minutes of practice each day. Follow the instructions below, and enjoy!
Right Knee to Chest
Breathe 9-12 breaths
Left Knee to Chest
Breathe 9-12 breaths
Full Body Stretch
Breathe easy and rest
- Lying down, breathe in and out 6-9 times, taking full, deep breaths.
- Bring your right knee in toward your chest, breathing full deep breaths in and out of your nostrils. Squeeze the knee in toward the center of your chest. Keep your head on your mat with your chin toward your belly. Breathe in and out 9-12 times.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Inhale into a full body stretch, extending your arms up over your head. Exhale and relax for 3-5 minutes.
- Lengthens the muscles around the spine and back of legs.
- Nourishes the descending and ascending colon.
- Nourishes and massages the internal abdominal organs.
- Increases blood flow to the muscles and nerves in the face.
- If your back bothers you, bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor. Feet are hip width apart and let your knees touch.
- Avoid this pose if you have had recent abdominal surgery.
- It is fine to have your hands behind your knees in this pose. Do what is most nourishing for your mind, body, and soul.
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.