Make your tummy smile
I think we can all agree that food plays a big part in winter festivities! Not all of it being a festival for your digestive system though, so in the third of my Christmas themed blogs, I thought we would explore some ways to support your hard working digestive system.
Soothe an upset tummy with crocodile
I’m going to start with just a couple of the many Ayurvedic dietary recommendations, which I certainly find very helpful.
If you are eating fruit, eat it alone or leave it alone! Fruit is digested so quickly that if you eat it with other foods, then it is just left fermenting in your system until the rest of the food is ready to move on, which causes all sorts of problems, including bloating and acid indigestion. Best to leave 2 hours either side of eating fruit.
Try not to eat too much. A good guide is to cup your hands together, this is about the size of your stomach. Aim for a handful of food for breakfast and evening meal, and 2 handfuls at lunch time (when your digestive fire is strongest) so as not to overload your system.
Triphala is a fantastic Ayurvedic herb used to aid digestion. I get mine from either Pukka or Ayurveda Pura.
Start your day with a couple of cups of warm water, and try not to eat until you’ve emptied your bowels.
If you are a regular visitor to our classes you’ll need no convincing of the amazing way that yoga supports our digestive system. Practice twists and side stretches, forward and backward bends everyday to keep things moving. If you are able, put in an inversion to really clean things out. Relaxation is a must, as the body needs to be in relaxation response for the digestive system to work properly, which is why anxiety and stress have such a negative impact on digestion. A couple of rounds of sun sequence every morning will serve you very well too.
Here are some of my favourites for specific digestive issues, that I know work, either from experience or from many students telling me.
ACID REFLUX AND INDIGESTION
20 minutes before eating practice the lying head to knee pose, (inhale right knee into chest hold round shin, exhale lift head from floor, inhale lower head, exhale stretch right leg back along floor) 4 x on right leg, then 4 x with left leg. Follow with a gentle lying twist, 4 on each side.
Use the lying head to knee pose above, but swap the breathing round, so you start with an exhalation as you bring the knee up. You can also try practising fish pose after drinking a glass of body temperature water. Any of the triangle and twisting postures will be of benefit too. Sit in the kneeling warrior too – sit back on your heels, big toes touching, bottom sits in the cup you make with your heels, lift your rib cage, hands in lap, breathe deeply into your abdomen. Add in a squat to your daily practice too.
AN UPSET STOMACH
Lie in crocodile. On your front, elbows bent so you can rest your head on your hands, walk feet / legs out as wide as is comfortable, allow heels to fall in and the toes point out. Breathe into your abdomen, so you can feel the pressure of your tummy on the earth, relaxing and softening with each exhalation.
Plenty of relaxation. Abdominal breathing and alternate nostril breathing. A balanced yoga programme that includes a forward and back bend, side stretch, twist and inversion if possible.
Remember, yoga is an holistic practice, so whatever yoga you are doing you are in some way benefiting all your body. Just practising correct breathing habits and working on strengthening your core, both of which we do in every class, will have a huge positive impact on your digestive system.
Next time we’ll be looking at yogic ways to re-balance if you’ve overindulged! Take good care of yourself. Ix