Yoga for Digestion

How Much Digestive Fire Do We Need?

In Ayurveda, kinesiology and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), digestive fire plays a major part in food digestion. It is also considered vital for processing our experiences and emotions. Too much stress, and we end up with too much fire in our stomachs, making it difficult to properly digest food. The resulting excess production of stomach acid can lead to chronic problems such as reflux or gastritis. A weakened digestive fire due to eating too quickly, too lavishly or unenthusiastically causes food to be badly digested. This promotes weight gain and all the negative consequences associated with that. Only when our fire is properly balanced can we digest food in the best way possible. Developed at the Mandira, Yoga for Digestion aims to keep your flame burning bright.

Yoga for Digestion

The Gut’s Energy

The stomach processes nutrients, breaking down proteins, assisting in the absorption of vitamins, preventing harmful microorganisms from entering the intestines, sends signals to the nervous system and assists in blood formation. We soon know when the stomach isn’t working properly – bloating, discomfort and heartburn are just some of the possible symptoms.

The Causes of Stomach Problems

For a holistic understanding of the causes lurking behind stomach problems, we need to ask ourselves:

  • What can’t I stomach right now?

  • What’s leaving a nasty taste?

  • What’s causing me constant stress?

Yoga for Digestion
Yoga for Digestion

Firing on All Cylinders

When endless stress at work or at home becomes ‘gut-wrenching’, we can’t help but question what’s causing such persistently high levels of tension. Could it be, for instance, that beliefs about perfectionism and self-worth lie behind it? Do these words sound familiar: Only when I achieve, am I worth anything or I’m not good enough?

Such limiting beliefs manifest themselves on an emotional level first, and then become apparent as physical symptoms of illness.

Yoga for Digestion

Recognising Unhelpful Beliefs

Once we’ve identified our beliefs and recognised the patterns, we are able to break them with loving kindness. You are here. I fully accept you and the feelings you evoke. I allow myself to experience you again. It was OK for you to be part of me … until now.

The beliefs may not have been entirely negative in their effects. They may, for example, have helped you climb the career ladder a little faster.

Let Go of Indigestible Beliefs

The next step is to let go of any ‘indigestible’ beliefs you have, such as ‘I’m not good enough’, and replace them with positively nurturing ones.

I have value just as I am.
I love and accept myself just as I am.

Yoga for Digestion

Exercises: Yoga for Digestion

Connect With Your Abdomen

Regular Yoga practitioners can learn to connect with their abdominal area, keeping their digestive fire at a level that is right for them. This is because relaxation is an important factor, which is found by staying in the here and now – without wanting to influence anything – and letting thoughts of your next activity pass by like clouds in the sky.

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. Hands, palms down, beside your body.
  • On the in-breath, simultaneously raise your arms and your pelvis parallel to each other. Lift your arms all the way back behind your head.
  • As you exhale, lower your pelvis to the mat and return your arms to your sides. Make sure there is a nice flow between breath and movement.
  • Bend your legs again, and position your feet a little closer to your body before raising your pelvis up. With arms and shoulders on the mat, rotate the pelvis back and forth in the air.
  • Slowly lower your hips back onto the mat, keeping your feet on the mat.
  • Get a small ball, a tennis ball for example.
  • Start by gently massaging your abdomen with the ball in a spiral or clockwise circular motion. Experiment a little with the pressure, both gentle and a little firmer.
  • Relax as you do this and breathe deeply in and out. The aim is to build body awareness as well as enjoying a soothing massage. Feel the connection with your abdomen by closing your eyes and consciously perceiving the sensations of tension and relaxation.
  • Put the ball aside and place your hands on your abdomen.
  • Breathe deeply into your belly and connect with your core.
  • Get onto all-fours and lower your bottom backwards onto your heels. Raise your torso and come into a kneeling position. Sit on your heels if it comfortable.
  • Place your hands on your abdomen and, with a few deep breaths, draw energy to your centre. Connect with your core and gift yourself the following, kind words:
    • I am centred and at one with myself.
    • I am grateful to my abdomen.
    • I trust my gut.
  • Namasté!
  • Lying down with knees to chest, rock and roll movement.
  • Gently clasping your knees, make a nice round back and start bobbing forwards and backwards. End by slowly returning your back, vertebra by vertebra, to the mat, relaxing any tension as it occurs.
  • Try to execute the movement as slowly and consciously as possible.
  • Sit on your heels with your knees hip-width apart. If it’s more comfortable, you can place a fascia roll or a small pillow on your thighs and your belly.
  • Bend forward and massage your abdomen with your breath.
  • Put down the roll and come into child’s pose. Place your arms back beside your body. Breathe deeply into your belly.
  • Come forward again with your arms.
  • Kneel on all fours, and do cat-cow a couple of times. On the in breath, make your spine long and bend backwards. Look forward, your abdomen and back are engaged. As you exhale, round your back and look towards your knees. Draw the navel towards the spine.
  • Place your forearms and legs on the floor in a prone position. Raise your upper body. Gently raise your eyes. On your in breath, press your abdomen against the mat and, as you exhale, pull your navel all the way towards your spine.
  • Come into a prone position. Feel free to place your hands under your forehead and relax for a few seconds.