3 Passive Yoga Postures to Improve Your Digestion
Good digestion is an essential factor in our overall health and general well-being. Digestion is at the core of our energy regulation. When we experience digestive issues (bloating, heartburn, gas, ulcers, etc.), our entire body’s energy is affected. On the other hand, optimal digestion naturally leads to the regular elimination of toxins and waste from the body.
As a yoga instructor, I know very well how unpleasant it can be to practice this discipline if you feel full, bloated, uncomfortable or constipated. Below are 3 very simple yoga postures to practice regularly in order to improve your digestion in general.
Apanasana is a posture also known as “knees-to-chest pose” or “wind-relieving pose”. Hold the right knee against your abdomen to massage the ascending colon, and the left knee against your abdomen to massage the descending colon.
Begin by lying on your back. Ideally set yourself up on a yoga mat or on a blanket on the floor to protect your back. Place your feet on the floor, directly under your knees. As you inhale, place your hands on your knees. As you exhale, draw your knees towards your chest and then wrap your arms around your legs. You may choose to raise your head between your knees to maximize the stretching of your spine or simply leave your head on the floor. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 complete breaths.
(Optional: If you wish, you can continue with one knee at a time, first by keeping your right knee on your chest and then placing your left foot on the floor in a straight line with your left knee. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 complete breaths. Continue with the opposite knee and hold the pose for 5 to 10 full breaths).
We have all heard our yoga teachers tell us at one time or another that twists aide in digestion. I only really started to integrate this advice when I started practicing twists everyday when waking up and before going to sleep. Compressing the colon in a specific way (from right to left) can really make a difference to digestion. Detoxifying twists stimulate the movement of toxins accumulated in the body and help to release them.
I’d invite you therefore to move directly from the preceding pose, apanasana, into a lower spinal twist. Slowly stretch out your legs as you inhale. As you exhale, bring your knees to the left on the floor, while compressing the right side of the body. Turn your head to the right to stretch your neck. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 complete breaths. As you inhale, bring the knees back to the center and repeat on the other side.
Balasana, child’s pose, has the effect of compressing the abdomen while massaging the internal organs. Similar to Apanasana, this posture stimulates the digestive system. In order to perform this pose following the other 2 poses, start by lying on your back. From there, draw both knees back up to your chest and then roll to your right, using your right hand as a pillow for your head. Breathe in and as you exhale, use your left hand to push off from the floor so as to return to a seated position. From there, come to sit on your heels. Spread your knees slightly, hip width apart. As you exhale, lower your body towards your thighs. Lengthen your neck and spine by stretching your tailbone towards the floor. Place the back of your hands on the floor near your feet or place your hands on top each other under your forehead, like a small pillow. Relax your shoulders towards the floor, creating space between the shoulder blades. Place the forehead or tip of your nose in contact with the floor. Inflate your abdomen against your thighs during each inhalation and hold the pose for 5 to 10 complete breaths. On the last inhale, bring both hands to the floor under your shoulders and as you exhale push your hands onto the floor to bring your body back up.
If you have already had digestive issues (heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, gastric reflux etc.), you can certainly enjoy the benefits of these yoga postures to improve your digestion.
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to increase our overall body awareness, which can inevitably lead us to eat more consciously, thus improving our digestion.