The focus of this week’s post is on movements that can help improve your digestion. Staying active helps keep the muscles of digestion healthy and strong. Even if you are at a beginner fitness level, this short series of yoga poses can support and help improve your digestion.
Where it begins –
Did you know digestion begins the moment you put food in your mouth? Ideally, as your food is chewed it is infused with salivary enzymes that start to break the food molecules into smaller particles. Once your food gets to your stomach, gastric juices, bile, and pancreatic enzymes continue to break those particles down to absorb the nutrients in your intestines.
For most people, digestion isn’t that simple. According to the American Nutrition Society, SEVENTY MILLION PEOPLE experience some form of digestive distress every single day! The most likely culprit is the Standard American Diet (it is very SAD). Unfortunately, these highly processed “foods” contain ingredients our bodies cannot use for nourishment. This means digesting these foods actually use more vitamins & minerals than they provide.
Cleaning up your diet may not be enough –
Once you’ve eliminated or reduced the amount of processed food you consume, you still might experience occasional heartburn, constipation, upset stomach, or diarrhea. Incorporating some of these yoga poses into your regular movement practice can support your digestion, tone the muscles that are involved (your guts are made of smooth muscles!), and improve motility.
Yoga poses to support digestion –
- Begin in Child’s Pose (Balasana) with your arms extended in front of you, palms flat on your mat. Stay here for 5 breaths.
- Transition to your hands & knees (Table Pose). Inhale as you reach your tailbone and crown of the head up towards the ceiling, in Cow Pose (Bitilasana). Next, tuck your tailbone and exhale into Cat Pose (Marjariasana ) as you round your spine and drop your head. Alternate Cow and Cat pose with your breath for 5 full breaths
- Next, sit upright with your legs extended in front of you in Staff Pose (Dandasana) carefully move into Seated Spinal Twist. It is important to keep both hips solidly grounded, twisting slowly & gently. Perform for 3 to 5 breaths each side.
- Now lie face-up on your mat, with your legs extended and arms at your sides. Draw your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your shins (Pavana Muktasana) Be sure to keep your head, neck, and shoulders on the mat as you breathe deeply for 5 to 8 breaths.
- Finally, end this practice with a time of relaxation. Release your legs down in front of you, with your arms about 45 degrees away from your body. Close your eyes and breathe through your nose as you relax from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. You may need to make small adjustments to your arms & legs as your body relaxes in this Corpse Pose (Shavasana). Stay here for at least 10 to 20 breaths.
Why it works –
These gentle poses will stimulate and tone your digestive organs, improve circulation, and relax your nervous system, helping to ease digestion.
If you are experiencing constipation or indigestion, I invite you to practice this vinyasa 2 to 3 times each week. Then come back and let me know about your experience!