Yoga for Better Digestion

From guest blogger Auriel Benker: One of the physical benefits I noticed right away from my consistent yoga practice is improved digestion. I struggled for years to regulate my digestion and feel good after eating. I had found some relief through changing my diet and adding certain supplements. However, nothing was so effective as when I combined it with my Ashtanga practice. If I missed several days in a row, I started to feel unwell again. I had heard that twists are beneficial for removing toxins and aiding the digestive process. But I wanted to know more about how yoga helped and what poses were involved. What I found was that yoga works in several ways to aid digestion. Yoga increases self-awareness. This includes awareness of the body and how certain foods make us feel. As a result, over time, we tend to choose healthier options that leave us feeling energized. Also, yoga is a meditative practice. This elicits the relaxation response and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the digestive process, as well as restful sleep and healing. And finally, yoga is a full body workout that, when done correctly, aligns and balances the body. There are many poses that help digestion, by increasing circulation to the brain and calming the nervous system, such as inversions. Forward folds compress and massage the abdominal organs, including the adrenals and kidneys, bringing fresh blood flow and nutrients, while removing waste products. Twists wring out the intestines like a dirty dish rag, flushing out toxins to be removed by the lymphatic system, liver and kidneys. Lengthening the torso in backbending poses creates space for the abdominal organs and allows for fresh oxygen and nutrients to flow in. Many poses engage the core, creating heat and compression to stimulate digestion and elimination.  Here are some key poses, most of which are in the Primary Ashtanga series. It is recommended to learn these poses under the study of a trained teacher. This is designed for informational purposes only. forward fold toes Forward Fold (Uttanasana) – Calms nervous system. Massages digestive organs and regenerates kidneys and adrenal glands. downward dog Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)- Lengthens torso, allowing more space for digestive organs. revolved triangle Revolved Triangle (Parivritta Trikonasana) – Deep twist opens rib cage, allowing for deeper breathing and more oxygen. Bow Pose Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) – Lengthens torso while massaging digestive organs via compression. Auriel in Navasana Boat Pose (Navasana) – Lifts diaphragm off stomach and liver, allowing more oxygen and blood flow. Creates heat, stimulating digestion. Seated Twist Emma Marichi Twist (Parivritta Marichyasana) – Purifies entire digestive tract by removing stagnant waste products and toxins, replacing with fresh blood and nutrients. childs pose Child’s Pose (Garbhasasana)  – Heals, relaxes and rejuvenates the whole body. Helps to relieve cramps and constipation. Amanda in Legs up the Wall Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) – Reverses usual downward force of gravity, regulating digestive function. Drains lymphatic fluid from legs, aiding in toxin removal. It is important to promote the toxin removal process by consuming at least 64 oz of water per day. This will prevent toxic overload in the body by stimulating the lymphatic and urinary systems, as well as preventing waste products from being reabsorbed into the lymphatic system in the colon. Eat a diet high in fiber. Consider a supplement like Psyllium Husk or Regular. Consume mostly organic vegetables, organic whole grains, omegas 3-6-9, organic fruits, and lean protein. Take time for relaxation each day. Honor your body, and it will honor you.

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