A lot of factors can play a part in your digestion; mainly the types of food you eat (fibre deficiency is pretty common) and the amount of water you drink. Without both of these main components (fibre and water) we can have issue with properly digesting our food. On top of that, factors like stress can affect our organ function, in some cases there may be food intolerances or other underlying issues - I’m not going to write about disease here but no doubt in some rare cases there can be something more sinister at play with digestive issues.
In terms of every day digestive disfunction, sometimes yoga can help. If your issue is constipation, first of all address the aforementioned: fibre and water intake. Physically, we want to stimulate the ascending and the descending colons (in that order). When I was first instructed toward these exercises by a teacher in India, I honestly didn’t believe something so simple could get things moving. I was taught that in a yoga practice, the best time to eliminate is first thing in the morning, so you can practice asana on an empty stomach. We were instructed to perform the following exercises every morning as soon as we woke up in order to train our digestive systems to begin a consistent rhythm.
- Drink 1 litre of water (or there about) - being a person who can’t jump out of bed immediately, I tended to sip a bottle of water in bed for about 10 minutes until it was empty before getting up.
- Laying on your back, pull your right knee into your chest, aim your right knee toward your right armpit. Hold for 1 minute and then switch to left side.
- Come to sit Japanese style, knees bent and sitting back on your heels. Make your hands into fists, bending your arms at your elbows, place fists just above your hipbones on either side, then bend forward, as if coming into child’s pose - forehead toward the ground. Stay here for a couple of minutes (if you’re suffering quite badly from constipation I would recommend staying here for about 10 minutes).
So simple but these methods really do work, after about a week of doing the above three steps, you may well find that the water alone will do the trick.
If you find yourself feeling bloated or uncomfortable, try this out - it should work for any level of indigestion issues. As I mentioned, diet is so important, if you think you may be fibre deficient, assess your diet and see where you could be consuming more whole foods as oppose to anything processed. Fruit and veg with the skins still on are high in fibre, easy to incorporate in to your diet and are nutrient rich cannot be processed properly unless it has enough water to soak up the roughage, when there isn’t enough water, this creates blockages in the intestines which is what leads to that hard, uncomfortable bloated feeling. You should be aiming for 30g of fibre a day and about 2 litres of water. Foods high in fibre include; avocados, squash, apples, pears, figs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, chia seeds, peas and potatoes (with skins).
Aiming to have your digestion functioning properly will lead to overall better wellbeing, you will feel lighter and more energetic.