Stimulating the digestive system through yoga

PHOTO: Stimulating the digestive system through yoga

IT takes lots of practice to reap the benefits of hatha yoga. Like any other form of exercise, discipline is also required.

Many people today have bloating and constipation problems attributed to over-eating and lack of fibre respectively.

"Yoga can be performed even by those with medical problems," says P. Manisekaran, president of Malaysian Yoga Society And Malaysian Association Of Yoga Instructors.

"Yoga does not require much physical strength or energy. Those who are fasting, semi-fasting or just out of the hospital after a surgery can perform the postures. The best part is that the practice of yoga and its benefits are best attained when done on an empty stomach."

One doesn't strain certain body parts because of the low-impact postures.

"But once a person experiences a faster heart beat, it's best to stop and relax," says Manisekaran, who's had 15 years of experience in practising and teaching yoga.

Manisekaran recommends certain poses beneficial to the digestive system. In addition to these postures, one should eat more vegetables and fruit.

1) Eagle pose

Shift all your weight on your left leg. Bend your knees as though you are about to sit on a chair. Keep your spine extended. Lift your right leg and place it across your left leg. Keep your hips squared to the front of the mat, and try to bend the left knee even deeper. Keep wrapping and twisting your arms until the palms come together.

Benefits: Increases the flexibility of the hips and shoulder joints. Also keeps the mind calm, especially if you are agitated or are facing some challenges.

Standing side stretch

2) Standing side stretch

As you inhale, raise your arms and bend your upper body to the right.

Hold for several breaths. Inhale, and bring the body back to the original position. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Benefits: This side stretch will increase the flexibility of your spine, arms, and rib cage as it stimulates the liver, kidney and spleen functions. It will also gradually reduce excess fat on the waist while strengthening calf and thigh muscles.


3) Spinal twist prostration pose

Sit with the legs stretched out in front. Bend the upper part of your body sideways.

Place the palms on the floor and chin on the floor. Breathe in and slowly come back to the starting position.

Benefits: Massages the abdominal visceral organs.

Cobra pose

4) Cobra pose

Lie on the floor, face down with the palms flat next to the chest and elbows close to the body. Place your forehead on the floor.

Inhale and lengthen the entire body. Continue to lengthen the crown of the head forward as you begin to lift the head up and expand the chest forward.

Soften the shoulder blades down the back. Use the hands and arms as guides, while lifting mainly with the back and the neck muscles. Look upward at about 45 degrees or to your comfort level.

Benefits: Opens the chest, allowing deeper breathing, tones and strengthens abdominal muscles. Also stimulates the digestive system and if you have a sluggish digestive track, it may help regulate.

5) Child's pose

Kneel and sit on your feet with your heels pointing outward. Your knees should be separated, about the width of your hips.

Place your forehead on the floor, then swing your arms forward. Rest your forehead on the floor.

Benefits: Helps relieve stress and fatigue, and calms the brain.

6) Adamantine

Sit and bend the legs. Place them under the hips. The soles of the feet are facing back.

Let the buttocks rest between the heels and keep the spine, neck and head erect.

Benefits: Activates the functions of digestion. Also helps in reducing sleepiness, hot temper and excessive fat on the thighs.

Note: Poses do not require supervision. If you don't have a yoga mat, use a bath towel instead. Perform all exercises on an empty stomach except pose 6, which should be done right after eating.