Sometimes we eat a little more than we should or indulge in something rich that inflames our digestion. Unfortunately for most of us, this is often accompanied by bloating and discomfort.
Impaired digestion is at the root of many health issues. Without a well-functioning digestive system, the body struggles to pass along nutrients to our cells.
At Parsley Health we prescribe diet and lifestyle changes to help beat digestion problems. Many times this can include different types of fitness and movement like integrating yoga into your weekly routine.
“Yoga aids in digestion by keeping our lymphatic system flowing from the gentle squeezing of the muscles during the poses. Our lymphatic system is like a toilet – if you never flush it, then it gets backed up. Yoga helps to flush out the toxins that accumulate in our lymphatic system on a daily basis,” explains Parsley Health’s San Francisco Medical Director Dr. Tiffany Lester .
Try these poses recommended by Yoga Today to alleviate discomfort and support digestive functions.
For a video tutorial, watch and learn the basics of Downward Facing Dog here .
Create slight abdominal compression by drawing the navel into the spine; you will gently stimulate the kidneys, liver and the spleen, aiding in digestion. Please be aware, this is not a good pose if you are suffering from nausea, indigestion, or heartburn. However, if you feel comfortable coming into downward facing dog, this foundational pose lengthens the spine and allows you to relax through the head and neck. De-stress and digest!
Begin on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, under your shoulders, and your knees beneath your hips, feet hip-width apart. Curl your toes under, lift your knees and extend the legs. Micro bend your knees, align them in the direction of your second and third toe. Lift your sitting bones and press the hips back, straightening your legs any amount, and lengthening through the back of your legs. On every inhale, lengthen through the spine, stretch your arms, and press the inner triads of your hands into the mat. Every exhale, energize your legs and press them back.
Compressing the abdomen and lightly compressing your digestive organs will support healthy elimination. Also, deep forward folding can promote relaxation and improve circulation, allowing optimal blood flow to the digestive organs.
Begin in Mountain Pose and, with a flat back, fold forward from the hips. Place your hands on your outer shins or to the sides of your feet. Spread your toes and press down through the base of each toe and through the center of the heel. Engage your quads as you internally rotate your thighs. Relax your spine, neck, and head and breathe into your back body. Expand your entire diaphragm with each inhale and relax deeper with each exhale.
For a video tutorial, watch and learn the basics of a seated spinal twist, aka the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose here .
Twists can have an impact on both our mobility (movement of organs in relation to each other) and our motility (movement within an organ). In this way, twists help to stimulate our internal organs, including our organs of elimination.
According to Amy Matthews, co-author of Yoga Anatomy, the more mobility there is in the intestines, the more easily the contents can move through our system. While there is no evidence to suggest that twists allow for better nutritional absorption, abdominal twists may indeed be helpful in “moving things along.”
You will twist to the right first to stimulate the ascending colon and then to the left to target the descending colon. Begin seated in Staff Pose with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross your right foot over your left leg. Lean your weight into your right sitting bone and pull your left leg under, resting your left leg under your buttocks as a seat. Rotate your torso 90 degrees to the right, and set your left elbow on the outside of your right leg. Inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale and twist deeper. Repeat on the left side.
Pranayama (breathing exercises) help allow your body to rest and digest. When your body is in a relaxed state, our parasympathetic nervous system slows the heart rate and increases intestinal activity.
Finding balance is one of the basic tenets of yoga. You can start to achieve that balance in its purest form by practicing Sama Vritti (equal breathing). First, make sure that you are sitting nice and tall or lying down in a comfortable position. Start by breathing in for a count of four, then out for the same count of four. You can increase the count to six or eight as you get the hang of it. Breathe through your nose as this adds some natural resistance to your breath and forces you to focus more on simply breathing. Try this exercise for five minutes. You can practice for longer periods as you get the hang of it!
This article was originally posted on YogaToday , written by Megan McInturff.
Photos courtesy of YogaToday .
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.