Canadian Thanksgiving is around the corner and will be soon followed by American Thanksgiving.
This is just the beginning of fall/winter celebrations centered on a lot of eating! Especially of heavy meals laden with meat, fat, sugar and carbs!
Whether you like it or not, all the feasting does inevitably leads to indigestion, gas and bloating. Right?
So today my dear friend Sarah, has offered to share some simple yoga asanas to deal with the digestive distress. Sarah is the creator of Shanti Yoga, and co-founder of Yoga Vacations.
If you are dealing with digestion problems, whether you’ve simply eaten too much in one sitting, or you’re suffering from gas, bloating or constipation, the first thing that may not come to mind is using yoga to solve your problems.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old tradition that goes beyond asana (the physical postures). It includes breathing techniques, mantra, meditation, and philosophy; therefore I will only scratch the surface by sharing more about some postures that might be helpful in relieving certain digestion issues.
Ideally, a balanced yoga class will encourage you to move your whole body and will end with relaxation or meditation. As always, practicing any postures comes with precautions – it’s important that you respect yourself and your limits every time. Yoga should not be painful. If you are experiencing pain by practicing, your body is telling you to ease up.
Try these postures
When you are experiencing bloating or constipation, something is out of balance and your body is not able to move food and fluids through your digestive system in a timely manner. Using postures to open, contract and twist your abdomen allows you to massage your internal organs; helping to eliminate gas and to move partially digested food through your system.
Precautions for all poses: you should not practice these poses if you are pregnant or recovering from any kind of abdominal surgery, if you have a hernia, or severe back pain. If you have health concerns, please consult with your doctor before trying any new physical activity.
Also remember not to do yoga on a full stomach, after eating a full meal!
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Benefits: this pose helps to strengthen your spine. It opens your chest and shoulders and stimulates your abdominal organs.
1. Begin by lying on your stomach, with your toes flat on the floor and your forehead resting on the floor.
2. Keep your legs a few inches apart. If you have lower back issues, you may want to increase the space between your feet.
3. Stretch your hands in front of you with your palms facing downward and arms touching the ground.
4. Line up your elbows beneath your shoulders, as you inhale, slowly lift your head, chest and abdomen while keeping your navel on the floor. (You are using your breath and your lower back muscles to draw your head up).
5. Fix your gaze a few feet in front of you and stay here for 3-5 breaths.
6. On your next exhale, slowly release your arms straight out in front of you, gently lowering your forehead and chest back to the floor.
7. Repeat for another 2-3 cycles if you feel inclined.
(Image courtesy of EkhartYoga.com)
Wind Releiving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)
Benefits: this pose helps to remove excess gas from your system as it compresses your abdomen.
1. Begin by lying on your back, with your legs and arms extended.
2. Take a deep breath in, and then as you exhale, draw both of your knees to your chest. Clasp your hands around your knees, keeping your head resting on the ground. Stay here for 3-5 breaths.
3. While holding only your right knee, release your left leg and extend it along the floor on an exhale. Hold this pose for up to one minute.
4. Exhale and draw your left knee back in towards your chest and clasp your hands around both knees again.
5. While holding only your left knee, exhale to release your right leg and extend it along the floor. Hold this pose for the same amount of time.
6. On your next exhale; draw both knees to your chest. Stay here for 2 more breaths.
7. With an exhalation, gently release and extend both legs.
(Image courtesy of constipationexperts.co.uk)
Reclined Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Benefits: this pose helps to massage your digestive organs and to remove toxins by encouraging the fresh flow of blood to your abdominal area.
1. Lying on your back, as in Wind Relieving Pose, draw your knees into your chest on your exhalation.
2. Extend your left leg along the floor, keeping your right knee drawn to your chest. Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palm facing down.
3. Shift your hips slightly to the right. Then, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee.
4. On your exhale, lower your right knee over the left side of your body. Keep your left hand resting gently on your right knee.
5. Turn your head to the right, looking toward your right fingertips. Draw your shoulder blades down toward the floor and away from your ears.
6. Hold the pose for 5-7 breaths. On your next inhalation, slowly come back to center, bringing both knees to your chest.
7. Exhale, and extend your right leg along the floor. Repeat steps 3-6 on the opposite side, shifting your hips to the left this time.
8. On your next inhale; return to center, lying on your back with both knees drawn into your chest. Stay here for 2 more breaths.
9. With an exhalation, gently release and extend both legs.
(Image courtesy of yogatime.tv)
As I mentioned, I have only scratched the surface on how to deal with these issues once they have already occurred.
The key is in prevention.
It’s not only what you eat but how you eat that is important – are you taking enough time to chew your food? Are you eating while in a rush or multi-tasking your way through your meals? Are you drinking enough water?
If digestive issues have plagued you for a while, grab this FREE guide on how to Beat Indigestion Naturally and start strengthening your gut right away!
More about Sarah:
Sarah is a Vancouver-based author, speaker, coach, yoga teacher and Reiki master, serving local and international clients. It’s her mission to see you thrive and to help you create a life you love using simple tools that can make a difference today. She is sharing her story in her upcoming book, “Life Reboot: Start Living A Life Of Passion And Purpose Through Your Inner Wisdom.” For support in your journey towards living a purposeful and joyful life, please visit Sarah at Body Mind Spirit Coach.
[P.S- Sarah is organizing a fun and transformative yoga retreat in Costa Rica! Situated near the beach, Puerto Viejo is the perfect place get away from it all. For 7 days, allow yourself to relax and explore the local culture, or join one of the many outdoor activities, such as; hiking, biking and zip-lining!
Click here to find out more about the retreat]