Rachelle’s simple guide to better digestion as featured on The Social CTV! Watch now.
There are many known physical benefits of yoga – it helps us gain muscular tone, increases flexibility and of course helps us de-stress. But what most people don’t realize is that yoga can also help alleviate common ailments like headaches, hangovers, PMS, sleep issues and digestion.
The holidays are synonymous with eating and drinking little too much, leaving us feeling bloated and heavy at the end of the night, while the stress of the season also plays a big part in how well our digestive system operates.
Before reaching for the medicine cabinet next time you’ve overindulged, opt for these five digestion-boosting postures to keep things moving while you stay calm.
Hold each posture for 5 to 10 deep belly breaths. Ideally this series should be done on an empty stomach.
1. SEATED SPINAL TWIST
Cross your right leg over your left leg and sit up as tall as you can. Place your left arm around your right leg and your right hand onto the mat behind you. Look over your right shoulder. Inhale fill the belly full of breath, sitting as tall as you can. On the exhale slowly rotate to the right, twisting towards the right leg. Take 5-10 deep breaths and then switch to the other side.
*Be mindful of the lower back, as you never want to twist from your low back but rather twist your upper back and keep your chest open.
Deep Belly Breathing: Think of making your belly like a Buddha belly on your inhale. Most people breathe in their chest, which actually creates more tension and anxiety, versus deep belly breathing which helps to relax. The more we can relax the better our digestion.
HOW IT WORKS:
Think of your intestines and internal organs as a washcloth, when we are twisting the body we are literally ringing out toxins and waste, making it an excellent pose to keep the organs healthy. When we untwist, we send fresh new blood and oxygen rushing back to the area, thus helping to flush out waste and toxins. This process is great to help decrease a puffy midsection due to bloating. Helps to release gas and decrease constipation.
QUICK TIP: Place a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pulse points for deeper relaxation.
2) KNEE TO CHEST
Laying on your back draw the right knee alongside your right rib cage up into the armpit area. Place both hands overtop the shin and exhale as you draw the leg deeper in, compressing into your right side of the large intestine. Continue with deep belly breathing to stimulate the area. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths or more. Step two is to incorporate a twist, guide the right leg over to the left side, rest the right knee on the floor if it touches. Switch to the other side.
HOW IT WORKS:
This poses works to stimulate sluggish digestion by squeezing the leg into the belly, which cuts off the circulation to that area. Once the leg is released, fresh blood and oxygen rushes to that area helping flush out toxins and waste. This is key because it creates better absorption of nutrients. By adding the twist in step 2, we are ringing out the toxins in the abdominal organs and helping to get rid of bloating.
QUICK TIP: Waste=Weight!
When we are not eliminating daily we hold onto waste in the body, which causes weight gain. We can literally be holding 5 -15 pounds of extra weight from waste in the body.
3) BRIDGE POSE
Lay on your back and bend your knees. Bring your feet (parallel), knees, and hips all in alignment, and bring your arms by your sides. Press your hands along side you as you start to press into your big toe mounds to lift the buttocks off the ground. Take 5 deep belly breaths here or more. To release slowly roll down one vertebrae at a time, massaging the spine back into the mat.
HOW IT WORKS:
This posture is great because by lifting the hips we are going against gravity loosening waste and toxins in the intestines and abdominal organs, thus making it easier for elimination. This is also a really great immune boosting pose and is great for energy, especially this time of year with cold and flu season.
QUICK TIP: A slow digestive system can actually weaken or suppress your immune system, because your body is not efficiently eliminating toxins but in fact holding onto them, making you more susceptible to colds & flu.
4) WIND RELIEVING POSE
Laying on your back, draw your navel towards your spine to engage the belly muscles to protect the lower back. Draw the knees in towards the chest and wrap the arms around the legs. On every deep inhale try fill the belly with so much breath the belly presses against the legs, on every deep exhale, draw the knees into the chest more.
HOW IT WORKS:
After the age of 30 our digestive system slows down, mainly because of lifestyle, stress and poor food choices. Throwback to when you could eat whatever you wanted with no consequences!
Our stomach produces less hydrochloric acid, which are the digestive juices that are needed to break down your food. This posture helps to stimulate the metabolism and increase our digestive juices. When the body relaxes the intestines relax and better help to let the body release toxins and waste matter. When we are stressed, our intestines and muscles tense, causing us to hold onto waste in the body. Remember…waste = weight!
By breathing deeply in your belly this will help you relax and by compressing the knees into the chest this will help boost metabolism and stimulate digestive juices. A great one to do before a meal.
QUICK TIP: You can do a million crunches but if you aren’t eliminating you will get a puffy mid section. Ever wonder why you can’t get rid of that annoying muffin top?
5) MODIFIED CHILD’S POSE
Coming onto hands and knees, bring the big toes to touch and take the knees mat distance apart. Keeping the buttocks in the air, walk the hands forward resting hands into the mat, overhead. Rest the forehead into the mat. Allow the belly to be soft and take deep belly breaths.
HOW IT WORKS:
By keeping the hips elevated we are doing a modified inversion, which are excellent to help get things moving and loosening up waste in the intestines, promoting proper elimination. This pose is great to reduce bloating and help release air in the intestines. It is also an extremely relaxing pose – which we know is key for good digestion. This pose allows the belly muscles to relax, helps remove stagnation from the intestines, relieves lower back tension, and is calming for the mind and physical body.
QUICK TIP: For extra relaxation gently massage the forehead into the mat right to left.