Do you practice yoga? If not, why?
Maybe you think you’re not flexible enough, or you don’t have enough balance to perform the poses.
But here’s a secret:
Yoga is so much more than that!
In fact, yoga has 8 different “limbs” or elements, ranging from breath control and meditation to several internal and external disciplines.
All of these elements come together to provide inner peace and balance to every part of your body, from your mind to your gut.
That’s why I try to spend time on my mat every day, whether it’s a morning meditation or a nighttime flow.
Yoga is great for any day and any time, but, quite honestly, the best time to practice yoga is…
… when your digestive system needs a little boost.
In yoga, there is a term called agni, which represents your digestive fire. A strong agni completely breaks down food, absorbs what you need, and gets rid of waste.
But a weak agni leads to poor absorption of nutrients and causes digestive problems, like bloating, gas, and constipation.
And your agni isn’t just affected by what you eat; your digestive fire is also impacted by stress.
That’s right! You may have heard this before, but your mind and gut are connected by the gut-brain axis. They communicate through nerve signals and hormones that travel in the blood.
So, just like you can expect an imbalanced gut microbiome to cause brain fog and fatigue, you can also expect psychological stress to trigger an upset stomach.
Thankfully, yoga balances both your mind and gut by:
- Reducing stress
- Increasing nutrient absorption and circulation
- Promoting physical movement along your digestive tract
It’s true that it can feel intimidating to sign up for a yoga class or even to choose a beginner-friendly video from a sea of options.
So, I want to share five basic poses you can do from the comfort of your home to get your digestive system flowing again.
This motion helps stimulate your intestines and boost gut circulation to relieve gas and bloating.
To complete this movement, start on your hands and knees — with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees aligned with your hips.
Take a deep breath in and allow your stomach to relax toward the ground. Lift up through the neck to the top of your head for cow pose.
On your exhale, round your spine and bring your chin to your chest for cat pose.
Forward Fold (Standing or Seated)
If you want to give your organs a good massage, while easing bloating, constipation, and reflux, this pose is for you.
Start in a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Or you can stand with your big toes together and heels slightly apart.
Inhale and sweep your arms out to the side and overhead. As you exhale, bend at your hips and extend your upper body over your legs.
Roll up one vertebrae at a time to release this pose.
Bridges are a great way to lengthen all your digestive organs. The position also sends more blood to your heart and lungs.
To do this pose, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the ground. Allow your arms to rest by your sides with your fingertips pointing toward your feet.
On your inhale, press your arms and feet into the floor and lift your pelvis. Keep your knees and thighs parallel. Roll your shoulders underneath the chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
As you exhale, slowly lower your body back towards the ground.
Twisting poses are KEY to enhancing your digestion. These poses literally “wring out” your organs and stimulate movement along your digestive tract.
Here is a simple twist variation to get you started…
To get started, lie flat on the ground with your arms in a “T” shape and bring both knees to your chest.
Inhale and let your knees fall to the right side (you can support your knees with a small pillow or blanket if they do not touch the ground). Turn your head to the left and try to keep your shoulders flat on the ground.
Relax for 3 to 5 breaths and return to the beginning position.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Now this is one pose I’m sure you’re familiar with.
To execute Corpse Pose, simply lie flat on your back with your legs together and your feet turned outward. Extend your arms by your side at a 30 degree angle with your palms up.
Rest in this position for 10 breaths.
I know this feels like you’re just laying down. But as you’re in this pose, stay present and feel your breath rising and falling in your gut. This will help reignite your agni.
During this time, you also give your mind a chance to rest from racing thoughts that come from everyday stressors.
You should hold each of these poses for at least 5 breaths, and if they feel good, you can hold them even longer! But if it doesn’t feel good, feel free to leave it out of the lineup.
That’s the beautiful thing about yoga… you can make each practice your own!
Everyone has a different purpose, desired outcome, and completely unique way of practicing yoga.
If you dedicate at least 10 minutes to your yoga practice every day, I know you’ll start noticing a big difference in your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Wishing you the best of health,
Your NatureM.D. Wellness Team