‘Bad digestion is the root of all evil,’ says Hippocrates. Our ancient texts concur. According to Ayurveda, the root cause of all disorders lies in poor digestion. That is why it is imperative that our digestive fire remain strong. So that the food that we eat is efficiently metabolized. Otherwise, regardless of how healthy our food choices may be, our body will find it difficult to assimilate and absorb the nutrients present in what we eat.
Agni helps us digest what we ingest
In Ayurveda, agni is the source of nutrition, awareness and intelligence. There are many manifestations of agni that affect the body and mind - from the fire of awareness, to the central digestive fire. Ultimately, agni is the gatekeeper of good health.
Understanding the digestive process
Think of the digestive system as a juicer, ‘agni’ as juicer blades, body toxins as fruit waste, and energy as juice!
If the juicer blades are weak, there is less juice and more fruit waste. So, if the ‘agni’ (juicer blades) is weak, the digestive system produces less energy (juice). This results in more toxins (fruit waste) getting accumulated in the cells. Thus, a strong agni is required for a good digestive system. With its rejuvenating powers, yoga can make your agni strong and help improve your digestion!
How can yoga asanas improve digestion?
- The digestive fire or agni is stimulated. This increases the appetite and balances the metabolism.
- Asanas stretch the body, massaging the abdominal muscles. This causes food to move efficiently along the digestive tract.
- Bowel movement is regulated and constipation relieved.
- Circulation of blood to the digestive organs increases, thus aiding digestion.
- Yoga asanas keep the mind active and happy. You are more likely to eat a balanced diet and this eases digestion.
- Regular practice of yoga discourages fatty deposits.
- The body is effectively detoxed. Toxins accumulated from a bad diet, unhealthy lifestyles and stress are flushed out.
Yoga poses for better digestion:
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Powers up the intestines. This stimulates digestion by improving secretion of digestive juices.
- Massages abdominal organs and reduces abdominal fat.
- Helps relieve constipation.
- Gives relief from flatulence.
Diet plan for a healthy digestive system
- Consume fibrous foods like peas, beetroots, lentils and beans.
- Cereals such as oats are also recommended.
- Eat freshly cooked meals, avoid left overs.
- Eat fresh fruits such as apples, avocados and bananas.
- Consume probiotics like yogurt and butter milk.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.
- Avoid junk and oily food.
Other tips to improve your digestion
- Eat at regular intervals.
- Chew your food well. It reduces pressure on your digestive organs.
- Do not lie down immediately after a meal.
- Avoid eating heavy meals at night.
- Avoid drinking water for half an hour after your meal.
- Be happy! Depression is a major factor in wrong choice of foods.
- Keep away from stress. This leads to binging and consequently, digestive disorders.
A good digestive system is a priceless gift, as your health and well-being depends on it. And yoga asanas are a far better alternative than say, consuming antacids for digestion. They are time tested techniques. There are no side effects, and the overall health benefits are enormous. The great Sage Patanjali has referred to yoga asanas as one of the limbs of yoga. Their purpose is to still the mind. This prepares the body for pranayamas which promote a healthy mind body complex. The Sudarshan Kriya is an excellent step to take in this direction.
One step towards yoga, one giant leap towards a world of good digestion!
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits. However, it is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a certified Yoga teacher. Find a Sri Sri Yoga program at an Art of Living Center near you.
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