Do you feel too much burping after having meals? Or Do you feel gassy by the end of the day? Or Are you experiencing digestive issues? If yes, practicing this yoga sequence is a great way to reduce constipation,gastric issues, indigestion and bloating. In fact, adding pranayama (breath control) and mudras (hand gestures) that are beneficial for the digestive tract, to this sequence helps even more effectively to get rid of excess gas and toxins from your system. However, a weak digestive system can be linked to stress in the body and/or mind.
According to the science of Ayurveda our digestive fire is Agni. When our agni is weak the food is not digested properly, leaving toxins in our body. These toxins are known as Ama in Ayurveda. When this agni is strong and healthy our food is digested easily, eliminating waste and helping assimilate good elements and useful nutrients into our body. The result of healthy digestion (these elements and nutrients) is known as Ojas.
Yoga sequence below helps activate digestive Agni. Pranayama plays a very important role in keeping the mind stress-free, which is very important for a healthy digestive system. The yoga sequence below emphasizes on breathing awareness while practicing the yoga poses.
Here are the Yoga postures & Pranayama to improve digestion.
Pavan-Muktasana/Wind Relieving Pose
Getting into: Lie on your back with your feet flat and together and arms beside your body. Now bring your knees to your chest and place the hands around your knees. Gently play with this pose by rocking side to side, massaging your lower back and hips on the floor for a few breaths.
Function: The weight of the legs gives pressure to the abdominal organs to get rid of excess gas and reduces intestinal discomfort. It also tones the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Limitations: Avoid this pose if you recently had an abdominal or hernia surgery or spinal surgery or sciatica.
Bridge Pose/ Setu bandha-asana (Variation Block Support Legs Straight)
Getting into: Begin by lying on your back with your feet flat on the mat. Lift your hips and place a block or bolster at the lowest height under the sacrum perpendicular to your spine. Rest your arms by your sides with the palms facing down. Either leave your knees bent or straighten them and rest your heels on the mat. Soften your shoulders and allow your front body to relax. Stay for 3-5 minutes and let the muscles relax.
Function: Stimulates abdominal muscles and hip flexors. Improves blood circulation and digestion.
Coming out: Bend the knees and place the feet on the mat. Lift the pelvis slightly up to remove the block. Release the spine vertebrae by vertebrae and come down to lie flat on your back.
Limitations: Shouldn't perform if suffering from neck pain. Avoid it during shoulder, back or knee injury.
Getting into: Sit on your knees bent and bring the head down to the floor. Arms can be either to the front or on sides. Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.
Function: Due to the compression of the belly, the belly organs are stimulated.
Coming out: Roll up vertebra by vertebra, the head comes up last. Sit in Vajrasana for a while.
LImitations: Avoid if pregnant. In case of back issues, spread your knees wider to keep the spine straight.
Getting into: Lie down on your belly. Bring yourself up by pressing your palms. Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes. Allow the muscles relaxed.
Function: Stimulates the front body, the belly organs, and chest. It also stimulates the inner arms and wrists. Very light pressure should be felt in the lower back, SI-joint and/or wrists.
Coming out: Slowly bend the elbows and lower down your body. Lie on your belly to feel the rebound for 1-2 minutes. You can turn the head to one side or bring one knee up to the side to alleviate any pressure.
Limitations: If you feel the compression of the pubic bone, place a blanket underneath. If you feel compression at the wrists, place your palms flat on the floor in front of you like a sphinx. Avoid if you are pregnant or have lower back issues. Avoid in case of a headache. Come out of the pose if you experience sharp, stinging sensations in your lower back.
Limitations: If you have a severe spinal problem or a severe slipped disc problem, it is best to avoid this asana.
Practice Apana mudra in Vajrasana/Diamond pose
Practice: Begin by kneeling on the floor. Sit on top of the heels. Sit up tall and activate the core muscles, Adapt hands in Apana mudra. Draw the shoulders down the back and away from the neck and ears. Point the tailbone to the floor. Focus on breath observing inhalation and exhalation. Practice this for 5 to 10 minutes daily.
Function: This posture is the answer to constipation, stomach disorders, acidity. It makes the lower body flexible, strengthens sexual organs, Losing weight becomes possible with regular practice of Vajrasana. The only posture that can be performed even after a heavy meal. Apana mudra is used to improve pranic flow, particularly for digestion and circulation.
Variation: Place a block or pillow in between the feet.
Limitations: If your ankles or knees complain, this may not be the pose for you.
Practice: Sit in Vajrasana apply Bhrama mudra (the image is shown below) or keep palm one above the other, exhale and bend forward. Stay for 9 to 15 taking long deep breaths.
Function: Pressure on the abdomen helps to stimulate the digestive system. Energizes the whole body by activating muladhara chakra. Enhances blood flow to the head that helps to reduce migraine. Beneficial for those with diabetes.
Coming out: Inhale come back to Vajrasana. Keep your eyes closed for a while and feel the soothing effect of this mudra.
Limitations: People with Stomach ulcers, recent stomach or heart surgery, spinal problems and rheumatoid arthritis may avoid this asana.
Anulom Viloma Pranayama or Nadi-shodhana or Nadi-shuddhi
Practice: Sit in Vajrasana or any comfortable meditative posture. Adapt Nasika mudra. Inhale from both the nostrils then close the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale completely through the left nostril. Now inhale through the left nostril, immediately close it with the ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. This is halfway through the complete cycle. Now, inhale through the same right nostril, immediately close it with the thumb, and exhale through the left nostril. This constitutes one complete cycle of Nadi-shuddhi pranayama.
Now, inhale again via left nostril to start the second set or cycle. Repeat this cycle 9 times. Remember the 9th cycle will end when you exhale via left nostril before you end this pranayama.
Function: Practice 9 rounds after dinner. It improves digestive fire(metabolism) and appetite. It is also beneficial in relieving respiratory disorders such as Asthma, Nasal allergy, etc.
Effect: The first indication of correct practice is the feeling of freshness, higher energy, and lightness of the body and mind.
Limitations: No limitations
Here are a few more suggestions to try:
These tips would help enkindle the Agni and will create better Ojas.
About the Author:-
Durga Devi Penke, Certified Yoga Alliance Instructor is passionate about designing a sequence of postures and breathing exercises to maximize workout efficiency and increase overall health and well being. I teach Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin & Prenatal style of yoga. I prefer to teach classes in a therapeutic way.
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