I believe we agree that food is one of the essential pillars necessary for leading a healthy lifestyle. “We are what we eat” as they say. These consist of two factors - one, the quality/quantity of the food that you’re consuming and second - your body - genetics.
Gut health is perhaps the most talked about regarding healthy living. The gut is considered the second brain of the body. And yet, the most ignored area of the body is also the gut. An international research project conducted by the Rome Foundation found that more than 40% of people around the world suffer from some kind of gastrointestinal disorder.
We eat what we like the taste of - and whenever we feel like it. Timings and quality are important to maintain gut health.
Another essential aspect that we often don’t know or think of - is the Gut environment can affect your mental health. A recent study suggested that Gut Microbiota - or the bacteria in your Gut, are invariably connected and affect your mental health by the “Gut-Brain Axis”.
Yoga is a powerful tool that can help in maintaining your gut health by stimulating the digestive system, and endocrine system and stretching/exercising the muscles. It is called a “prevention” practice, however, if you do suffer from diseases pertaining to the gut, you can perform the following asanas following the counts unless you suffer from a critical condition. Some asanas to perform while having bloating, GERD, IBS, and other digestive issues are:
Supta Vakrasana literally means “Supine”, and “curve/twist” This twist helps reduce stress, activates digestive enzymes and maintains a good ratio of good bacteria as well!
Take the Shavasana position on your yoga mat
Place your hands horizontally at shoulder level
Bend both or one of your knees and place it at the other end (right knee - left side)
Make sure only your hips twist and your torso remains on the ground
You can perform this asana 2-3 times on each side.
Pawanmuktasana is a classic posture that releases tension from your lower back, activates your digestive and excretory systems and improves your blood circulation - improving mood.
This master technique can be done preferably on an empty stomach by bringing your knee to your chest and holding it for a few counts. Remember to exhale while you bring your knee to your chest and inhale while you release this posture. The only limitation is if you have arthritis of the knee, or have undergone surgery very recently. In case you have extreme back pain, Do not strain yourself by sitting for long hours and you can still perform but under supervision.
Balasana, as the name suggests, is a position in which we go back to being a child.
The limitations are the same as Vajrasana
Come to Vajrasana
Place your palms on the ground and keep dragging them forward
Once you know you can’t move more forward, relax and place your head on the ground.
Stay in this position for a few minutes before gently coming up in the same way. The key is to balance in this position for a few minutes at least.
Vajrasana is derived from Vajra, a weapon of Lord Indra in Hinduism which symbolically represents firmness and power. Vajrasana simply means - firmness and power and the exercise/development of the same.
Vajrasana is one of the only practices that can be performed post-meal.
Some limitations that you should consider:
Severe Abdominal/Pelvic issues.
To perform this asana:
Come to a kneeling position on your mat
Create space by making sure your toes touch each other and your heels are apart
Situate yourself in such a way that your buttocks are in this space.
Place your hands on your thighs.
Stay in this position for at least 3-5 minutes before slowly letting go of this position the same way.
The biggest benefit is it normalises blood pressure, and breath and helps increase concentration. It is also a great posture for digestion and digestion-related problems.
Bhastrika pranayam is a technique that is proven to increase blood pressure and thus should not be performed if you have high blood pressure problems.
Pranayams are an age-old technique that can help you improve your lifestyle. In fact,
To perform this Pranayama:
Sit in a meditative posture, preferably Vajrasana
Inhale and exhale naturally for 3-5 counts.
When ready, inhale deeply and exhale forcefully
Perform this at least 10 counts every day.
Bhastrika increases blood pressure, and lung capacity and tones the abdomen by massaging the muscles and decreasing body visceral fat.
Cat - Cow Pose (Manjarasana)
Manjarasana is an amazing stretch for your back and your gut, working primarily on your torso. This posture activates the Vagus nerve - which is the longest nerve of the body, stretching from the brain to the naval. The Vagus nerve has many functions in the body, right from optimal digestion to heart rate/respiration. Therefore, this asana provides overall ease to your gut.
Some limitations that you should take care of:
Any form of surgery
Pregnancy (2-3 trimesters)
Severe conditions of spine or abdominal/pelvis
To perform this asana:
Come into Vajrasana
Bring your hands forward and come to a stage where your spine and hands make a 90-degree/right angle with your body
Inhale for three counts and stretch your neck upward
Exhale and let your chin touch your chest.
Continue for two more counts before going back to Vajrasana.
Manjarasana relaxes your back, your breath, and your blood and also takes care of your weight loss goals!