Many people know that yoga has numerous health benefits. However, most people do not know that there are simple and easy yoga poses that can actually help improve digestion.
The overall point of yoga is to find a conscious balance in our lives and make everything we do sacred. Outside of the actual practice of yoga poses, this means to try and have meals in comfortable environments and to use food for its intended purpose: as fuel for the fire of our physical and spiritual transformation.
The following exercises will help you get the most out of the foods you eat and can be practiced as a set or individually. They are designed to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
- Sit with your legs crossed and hold your knees. Inhale through your mouth in successive sips. Take breaths in but do not let them out. Take about 16 of these sips of air. If you are not completely filled with air, inhale (through your mouth) to your capacity and hold the breath.
- While holding the breath, grind your stomach (contract the stomach muscles successively). See Figure 1; it is the same movement as if you were trying to move a large, heavy hula-hoop. When halfway to the point where the breath cannot be held, put yourself in reverse and grind the other way. Exhale when you need to and repeat the entire exercise one more time.
If practiced twice daily on an empty stomach, this exercise can help you master your digestive system by adjusting the ileocecal valve and acid/alkaline balance in the stomach.
- Lie on your back. Have your arms by the sides, palms facing down. Place your hands under you buttocks for support if necessary. Inhale as you raise your legs to a 60 degree angle. See Figure 2. Hold your breath for 10-15 seconds.
- Exhale and bend your knees into the body (towards your chest). Hold the breath out for 10-15 seconds.
- Inhale and extend your legs to 60 degrees (see Figure 2). Hold the breath for 10-15 seconds.
- Exhale and lower the legs to the floor. Hold the breath out for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle seven (7) more times for a total of eight (8) cycles.
This posture is called Pavan Sodhung Kriya. Your liver will love you if you practice this. It’s also extremely effective in helping to prevent constipation and other digestive dysfunctions. Ultimately this exercise can be practiced for up to 31 minutes! It’s also a very effective technique for working through deep-seated fears. You may experience a slight sense of panic as you hold the breath out. Try to relax and let your fears evaporate.