Remember how you feel after a good body massage? Well, your digestive system feels much the same after a sequence of yoga postures. Your mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine make up your digestive system, with your teeth, tongue, salivary glands, liver, gall bladder and pancreas acting as accessory organs. Throughout the day your digestive system is ingesting food, secreting fluids, breaking down and digesting fiber, absorbing nutrients and defecating waste. This is when it is all working correctly.
Sometimes you might experience indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation or diarrhea. A regular practice of Hatha yoga can help prevent these kind of problems or aid in healing many types of chronic digestive complaints. There are certain simple, basic postures that you can easily incorporate into a regular practice. Putting them together in short sequences can be very effective and work within your time constraints. Let’s take a look at three separate sequences that you can practice at home, or you can link them altogether for a longer more thorough routine.
Begin by sitting on your heals with knees bent. To soften any strain on your knees place a yoga block or folded blanket between your feet.
Using your eyes to guide you, revolve your body to the right, looking over your shoulder. Hold and breathe for a count of 10, return to the center and revolve to the left in the same manner. Return to center.
Extended Child Pose
Extend your hands and arms forward into pose of the child. Try to place your buttocks on your heels. If this is too difficult open your knees wider and keep your feet together as you extend.
Continue to breathe normally without forcing or “trying” to breathe.
On the inhale round up into Cat Stretch by tilting your pelvis upward and tucking your chin toward your chest. Round your back keeping your arms straight and your hips aligned over your knees.
On the exhale tilt your pelvis downward while gently arching the back and looking upward to where the wall meets the ceiling. Move between Cat and Dog stretch 4-5 times before stretching back into extended child’s pose, finally rolling up to sit back on your heels. Repeat the entire sequence 4-5 times.
Lie on your back, legs extended out and bring your right knee in towards your chest. Interlace your fingers around the knee.
Elbows are lifted up and out to the side to keep the lungs open.
Without forcing the knee, round up and gaze down the length of the extended leg. Hold for the count of 5 then roll down.
Lower the right leg and repeat with the left leg.
Bring both knees into your chest, and then extend away to arms length. Repeat in and away several times. This is a great massage for the lower digestive system, as well as, your lower back.
Repeat the entire sequence 4-5 times then extend the legs out and relax in Savasana or resting pose.
Lying on your back, bring both knees in toward your chest and wrap your arms around your knees as much as possible. Hold for the count of 10, breathing naturally.
Release your knees and keeping them bent, move them out and over your hips.
Extend your arms out to the side and ground your shoulders and palms of your hands to the floor.
Slowly lower your feet and knees over to the right, keeping your shoulders and palms grounded. Gaze towards the ceiling.
You can make the rotations with knees bent and feet off the floor or an easier way is to keep the feet flat and together on the floor and lower from one side to the other.
Return to the center and lower your bent legs over to the left.
Move your legs from right to left inhaling to lift and exhaling to lower for 4-5 times.
On the final rotation stay and hold on the right side for a count of 10. Then lift up and over to the left holding for 10 counts.
Come back to the center, extend your legs and rest before repeating the sequence.
*Image of “yoga” via Shutterstock