As published in Juicing Healthy Magazine (March 2014):
It may be no coincidence that the place that invented yoga is also known for upset stomachs and things like “Delhi Belly”. When I take yoga classes from Indian teachers, digestion and gut health is probably the most consistent thing I hear them speak about. “Let’s stretch the inner organs and twist out any toxins” is among the common dialogues and it’s for this reason that the following three poses are very popular in both the East and the West. These poses help us stay healthy where things can get stuck in places like a colon, intestine, or gut.
While all twisting poses are great for the digestion, a lying one, as opposed to a standing one, does the most work since you are able to let gravity help. By allowing your knee to drop closer to the ground, your body stretches both vertically and horizontally. Similar to wringing a wet towel, this helps not only remove toxins, but also encourages fresh blood to reach the intestines and helps the kidney and liver detoxify.
Lie on your back, hugging one knee into your chest to start the “wringing.” Then drop that knee to the opposite side of your body. Next, open up the arms at shoulder height and try to keep both shoulders on the floor. Untuck the shoulder on the same side as the leg with the bent knee for a full stretch. Close your eyes and hold the position for 8-10 breaths.
You can also have a friend push gently on your shoulder and knee to increase the intensity of the twist.
A basic pose to yoga, this exercise puts pressure on the stomach when you lie face down. Benefits include stimulating the heart and lungs, as well as the thyroid, which boosts the immune system. It also massages the kidney and adrenal glands. Lastly, it helps to eliminate constipation.
Bring the heart up to the sky, but be careful not to put too much pressure on the lower back. Go as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
For video instruction on both of the above poses, click here.
It is no wonder that when our stomachs aren’t feeling well, we have a natural instinct to hold them and bend over. Child’s Pose is a form of a forward bend that also includes a calming effect. This position can help relieve trapped wind and reduce bloating.
In this version of the pose, kneel on the floor with your knees either together or wide apart and your feet slightly apart. Then sit back onto your calves and lean forward until your forehead hits the floor, a pillow, or a block. If it feels good, rest your chest on your thighs and place your arms ahead of you on the floor. Hold this position for 8-10 breaths, allowing your belly to hang and/or allowing gravity to press your abdomen onto your thighs.