Featured in WHO Magazine
Eliza Hayward Founder of Divine Flow Yoga and Lululemon Ambassador
Yoga poses to soothe digestion and support the nervous system.
The body is wildly intelligent, in how it processes, integrates and adapts in the ever-changing world. There is a lot to digest both physically and emotionally especially when the environment around us is fast paced, which can leave our fluctuating thoughts rapidly swirling in the mind.
Those daily stressors pump the body with adrenaline, tense the muscles and affect the brain’s neurons. In turn this increases cortisol also known as the stress hormone and can upturn the nervous system, leaving us on edge and with the fight or flight system charged on.
Research has found that overexposing the body to these demanding attributes caused by stress over a long period of time can affect our digestive system and its natural rhythms, and also affecting other areas like the function of our brain.
Adopting a practice to bring awareness to the subtle body will help to alleviate health complications and discomfort caused by digestive issues.
These restful postures can help to down regulate the nervous system and invite the body to remember its capacity to yield, restore and become more receptive to a mindfulness practice.
Child’s pose – a sense of coming home to your body
Knees wide to the edges of your mat
Arms forward and pelvis heavy
Just as much as you lengthen the spine, sense a possibility of expanding laterally as you breathe.
Lightly rest your forehead to the mat. Stay for 4-8 breaths and feel the breath massage the inner lines of the body.
Tip: for a restorative approach try using a bolster or pillows under your belly, chest and head for support. Relax the trunk of the body and enjoy the effects of gravity.
Cat & Cow – Flush the cerebral fluids of the spine to refresh
From a neutral spine inhalation breath, surrender abdomen and lift tail
Exhale and push the floor away as lift up through the shoulders, rounding the spine and curling tail.
These two gentle postures are paired together effortlessly moving the spine through two degrees of its rotation, flexion and extension. The movement massages lower organs, stimulates the kidneys and adrenals glands whilst creating a calming and emotional balance.
Tip: take deep breaths in and out through your nose. These core poses will massage your internal organs as you alternately compress and lengthen the intestines, bringing fresh blood to your cells leading you towards a healthy, happier gut.
Thread the needle – An internal adaptation that boasts a gentle exchange
From all fours thread your right arm under left so that shoulder and ear rest to the mat. Keep hips high and lightly draw the belly in to create some sustenance for the spine.
Stay for 3-5 breaths on each side. The depth of the twist can happen naturally as you exhale the breath.
Tip: those who suffer from any back, shoulder, neck or hip conditions should take care in this twist. Positioning a blanket underneath your knees can help to offer more support
Melting heart pose – The heart offers energetic priority
Come onto your hands and knees as if you were moving into cat/cow pose. Shift your hips back and melt your chest and arms forward. Release your head onto the floor or a block and allow gravity to open your heart.
Tip: Try to stay here for two minutes and breathe deeply to calm your mind. This relaxing pose offers a slight stretch of the belly, helping to ease any bloating. Get more from the pose by stretching deeper on each exhale and allow your belly to expand forward. To take out the intensity around the shoulders, take the arms slightly wider than shoulder width and bring a bend to the elbows.
Upward facing dog – start to gather yourself towards the pulse of breath
From the belly, palms in line with lower ribs, engage legs, press through hands to lift chest, belly and legs off the ground. Stay for 3 breaths.
Stretches the chest and spine, creating suppleness in the back torso and abdomen, which stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion.
Tip: the backbend can further rejuvenate the body, offering relief from fatigue. If a more subtle backbend is required, try Sphinx Pose. Laying on the belly rest the elbows directly under the shoulders. Forearms and hands run parallel along the mat. Stay for at least 5 long, expansive breaths.
Wind Relieving pose – mobilise the contents of your diaphragm
Knees hug to chest and gentle pressure is applied to the entire abdomen.
Soothing as well as stretching the lower back and lengthening the spine.
Tip: breathe consciously and hold for 4-8 breaths, inhaling deeply into the belly and connecting with the elements of nourishment and elimination. Both nourishment from good foods and regular elimination of waste create harmony of the body’s systems.
Supine Twists – Energise and Harmonise the body vessel
Start with both knees in the chest rocking from side to side. Let go of the left leg and twist right knee over to touchdown or hover and extend right arm out to the side – optional: Allow gaze to follow. Stay for 5 belly breaths, allowing the body to feel rested and supported by the mat. To move toward a calmer state, stay and linger a little longer.
Repeat on the left side.
Tip; adjust your pelvis and feel the spine aligned. This will allow energy to transfer up and down the spine with least resistance.
The process of digestion can be eased with a brief moment of quiet and embodied practice. Pair these movements with a short daily meditation to develop increased levels of calm for the nervous system.
Images – Ben Hamilton