Yoga for a Happier Digestive System

Since six years old (or maybe even further back), I’ve suffered from constipation. It’s been common for me to empty my bowels once to twice every week. My family and friends who know about my constipation, used to say it may be because I don’t drink enough water or eat enough fibre, but that’s wrong. I drink at least 2 litres of water per day and eat a well balanced meal with enough fibre.

To ease my constipation I’ve tried incorporating yoghurt in my diet (which helped a bit) but stopped due to frequent skin break outs and a stomach bloat. As well as taking probiotic supplements, which didn’t seem to make a difference.

As time passed, I’ve ignored my digestive problems, telling myself that maybe my body takes a longer time to move the waste out of my bowels. But then as I commenced the 4 week yoga teacher training course, I’ve been going to the toilet to empty my bowels every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! AND SOMETIMES EVEN TWICE A DAY! It’s been an amazing feeling, where my stomach feels empty and at ease.

I haven’t changed my life style, diet, sleeping patterns, etc. The only new thing that was incorporated into my lifestyle this past week has been yoga practice (asanas and pranayama).  Five days of yoga in a row, practicing the asanas along with pranayama for minimum two (2) hours in the morning before lunch.

One might suggest it’s because I’ve been “exercising”, but the answer is no. I’m a freelance spinning instructor, teaching minimum of five 45 minutes classes a week. I “exercise” enough, thank you very much. Sure you can get an “exercise” out of yoga, but I’d say I’ve been moving my body a lot more in different angles and planes, twisting my body along with proper conscious breathing which probably massaged my colon internally, thus stimulating elimination.

Yoga really does purify your body, especially your colons. I look forward to continuing this regular practice (partly) for a happier digestive system. You know what they say, happy tummy equals happy me.

 

— Miso

Anatomy: Uddiyana Bandha

Uddiyhana Bhandha
Uddiyhana Bhandha Source: zenfriend.org
The idea of performing Uddiyana Bandha or even watching someone else perform it may be fairly repulsive for many people.

Even for yoga beginners like myself, my first encounter with a live demonstration was nothing short of digust. I thought it’d be more befitting for a contortionist in training, rather than a yogini in training.
Nonethless, I gradually realized the beauty and wonders of Uddiyana Bandha and have since started to perform this “contortic” act every single morning.
As a frequent sufferer of constipation and ill digestion, I was never one of those lucky ones who always strutted out of the bathroom with a great sense of relief, looking like they’ve had a great burden lifted off their shoulders. Which is why I am so happy to share my testimonial of how performing Uddiyana Bandha have made all these ailments, a thing of the past. And of course, how it strengthened other areas of my physical body.
Uddiyana bandha tones, massages and cleans the abdominal and digestive organs. Imagine the internal action of sucking up all your internal organs into your ribcage and releasing it back down. Imagine your intestines compressing up and rearranging itself back to its natural state on the release. These movements subsequently lead to healthy movements along the digestive tract and will also help provide emotional and mental benefits. Long gone are the days where all you think about is when your body will let you take your next dump.
In addition, Uddiyana bandha stimulates blood circulation in the abdomen and blood flow to the heart and brain, returning freshly oxygenated blood to each organ and breathing new life into it. Very often understated, the brain needs blood flow in order to get an excellent supply of oxygen.. Your brain’s energy, as well as the energy in the rest of your body, is made by energy powerhouses called mitochondria that are found in each cell. Oxygen enables mitochondria in your brain cells to pump out an energy chemical, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Without adequate levels of ATP, your brain has an energy drain and its function decreases.
Whilst perfoming this, the pancreas is also being massaged and toned. A better working pancreas will result in healthy regulations of pancreatic juice being secreted. Enzymes in this juice mixes with bile from the liver to make the digestive process possible. If the pancreas is not functioning properly, the pancreatic enzymes’ benefits cannot be realized.
This video further elaborates the overall function of the pancreas.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l2GTGEwZOY] Other than massaging the pancreas, the solar plexus will also be massaged.  The solar plexus is a complex network of nerves (a plexus) located in the abdomen, where the celiac trunksuperior mesenteric artery, and renal arteries branch from the abdominal aorta. It is also referred to as the pit of the stomach. A blow to that area such as a kick or jab from a baton will not only cause great pain, but could also potentially damage internal organs or rupture the abdominal aorta, which would be fatal. Through it extensive reach, it controls many vital functions such as adrenal secretion and intestinal contractions.
Take a look at this video and witness the effect of when a Karate guy takes a great shot at someone else’s solar plexus.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MciLrVWcP8w&w=420&h=315] Uddiyana bandha also helps to tone the diaphragm. Having a strong diaphragm is not only important for opera singers, but also crucial to everyone because it plays a major role in our breathing. It is a vital component of a strong and efficient core, which will help protect your spine and prevent backaches.
The video below provides a 3D view of the diaphragm during respiration. From there, it is easy to see how Uddiyana Bandha will help tone this muscle of the body.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp-gCvW8PRY&w=420&h=315] Yes I know. You’re excited to try the Uddiyana Bandha right? But before that, please take note of the many precautions.

  1. For females, do not perform this during your moon cycle. (You don’t want blood flowing the wrong way, eh?)
  2. For females again, do not perform this if you are pregnant.
  3. Only perform this on an empty stomach. If not, perform it at your own risk.
  4. This is an extremely intense breathing exercise. Therefore, do not perform if you have diseases such as high blood pressure, pancreatic problems, hernia or any other medical conditions. Please consult medical professional if you are unsure.

For guided instructions on how to perfrom Uddiyhana Bandha, take a good look at this video.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2R0dkzkbzE&w=420&h=315] Learn, try, practice and be on your way to bowel-free intestines and a powerful digestive system! Good luck!
Liz