There is a natural instinct within all of us to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Here, Vd. Divya Chauhan, tells us how yoga helps in good digestion and good health.
In ayurveda , food sustains the life of living beings and all living beings in the universe require food. – ca.sa. 27/349
Thus, the digestive system can be the doorway to some of the most enjoyable moments in our life if we treat it sensibly.By following the right yoga sessions along with an Ayurveda diet as per the body constitution, we can extend the basic functions of the digestive process so as to gain even more pleasure and fulfillment in life .
Hence, to open this doorway to healthy digestion we should follow the below directions:-
- Awaken our power e. MANIPURA CHAKRA to know how actually our system works
- Be aware of our disorders that affect our digestive abilities.
- Be equipped with a diet as per the prakriti&and follow the techniques of yoga that can detox our mind and body.
- Relax our inner soul powers and balance the chakras
Yoga &the nutrient cycle
When we press an area of the skin, it first turns pale since the blood in that area is pushed away. Later, this area turns red as blood rushes back after a while. This is the same pattern on how the different Yoga asanas work on the soft tissues of our body. When the organs of the digestive system are compressed in poses, stale and waste bearing fluids are expelled from the tissues in our body. Thus, when an area in the body is stretched while doing an yoga pose new life giving nutrients circulate into the cells of the body. In this way, the different yoga poses massage the vital organs od our body aiding in a healthy digestion.
Also, yogic breathing exercises send oxygen deep into the cells of the body and help it to absorb nutrients and excrete waste products thoroughly .
In a nutshell, all the tools of yoga work together to reduce stress, rebalance the ANS (Autonomic nervous system) and create a powerful relaxation response that allows the healing functions of the PSNS (para sympathetic nervous system) to occur.
Anna VahaSrotas: Digestive System – A Brief Overview
According toSushruta, annavahasrotas have their roots in amasaya (stomach ) andannavahinidhamini (channels which carry food ).According to Charaka , annavaha srotas are 2 in number i.e. amasaya ( stomach ), vama parshva ( left lateral side of the abdomen )
Henc, the ringmaster of the human body is your gut and this gut is your slave that accepts everything that is given to it . It also avenges the wrongs done to it as slyly as a slave.
Anna vahasrotas are the food carrying channel or maha vaha srotas due to both its size and importance .Both AcharyaCharak and AcharyaSushrut have mentioned amasaya as the root for Anna VahaSrotas.
The digestive tract is one of the great paradoxes of life. On one hand it lies within our bodies, controlled by the unconscious aspects of the mind and ANS .On the other hand, most people do not realize how much of their lives are concerned with this unknown entity. The chief goal of the digestive system is to break down huge macromolecules which cannot be absorbed by the intestine. These macromolecules are broken into smaller molecules that are easily absorbed across the digestive intestine walls and is passed into the circulatory system for dissemination throughout the body. This procedure basically involves the following four steps:
Mastication / ingestion, Digestion,Absorption and Elimination.
At the cellular level, the body mistimes the various processes because of the lack of adequate control of the nervous and endocrine systems. This can easily lead to diseases. The digestive system, which is very sensitive, is the first to become upset.
Eating as a meditative process for digestion
Hence, he who practices yoga without moderation in diet incurs various diseases and obtains no success. One should avoid hard, sinful, very hot, stale , very cold or exciting food.
Digestive sadhna / eating as meditation
- Before eating: Be relaxed &follow slow and rhythmic breathing while eating.
- During a meal: Be aware of your body, breath and mind. Be in a comfortable pose and try not to cross your legs to let the energy flow freely into the abdomen .
- After eating: Be satisfied and happy with the meal you had.
- After meal: Rest on your left side of your body for 5 minutes
Exercises that aid in improving digestive activity:
- Manipurashudhi: this exercise clears tension and stimulates solar plexus power and adrenal gland functions- good for indigestion.
- Use a 3 part breath: Inhale through the navel and straight back to manipura chakra located in the spinal cord.
- Retain the breath and repeat the beej i.e. OM mantra 3 times.
- Exhale moving the breath plus the awareness forward and out of the navel
- Continue the practice with an awareness of the breath moving in and out of the navel center and rhythmic expansion and contraction of the abdomen.
- Yoga breathing exercises for digestive health: Breathing exercises that aim to stimulate and increase the vital energyof the body by directing it specific areas for special areas for special purposes.
- Abdominal breathing: stimulates peristalsis i.e. can be performed in sitting / laying down / standing position while inhaling slowly and expanding the belly like a balloon and then exhaling and relaxing the belly .
- Kapalbhati (Breath of fire ): stimulates sluggish digestion by forceful exhalation and passive inhalation. It is just like, inhaling naturally and then exhaling through the nose. This should be followed for 20 times.
- BhastrikaPranayam: powerful, cleansing & clearing technique by inhaling through the nose with arms lifted up and exhale strongly and bring arms bent and tucked by your side meanwhile.
- Mudras / bandhas for digestive health:
Hours seal helps to relax muscles surroundingthe anus and stimulates the elimination process.
- Sit in a comfortable meditation pose and contract the sphincter muscles of the anus for a few seconds without straining and then relax for a few seconds. You have to inhale with contraction and exhale with relaxation
- UddiyanBandha / abdominal lock: This brings awareness and paranoia into the abdomen
In standing meditative pose , place hands on knees, close your eyes and relax your body. Now, breathe in deeply with the nostrils and exhale emptying the lungs as much as you can without straining. Now, lean down and press your knees with your palms: Straighten the elbows and raise the shoulders, press your chin against the chest and contract abdominal muscles upward & inward. Hold the lock and breath out for as long as possible without straining. Release the lock and inhale .
Ayurveda finallyadvises, that – when diet and lifestyle is wrong, medicine is of no use and when diet is correct, medicine is of no need. So, daily use Ayurveda kitchen herbs, wholesome foods, meditation, abhyangam and yoga to achieve perfect digestion and lifestyle.
Vd. DivyaChauhan (BAMS )
Ayurveda Health Counsellor