The stresses of college, combined with poor dining hall food options and erratic sleep patterns, left me chronically constipated. With no time to even entertain the idea that lifestyle choices and changes were the problem and solution, I went to the doctor and was given a prescription for laxatives. And so began my 10-year struggle with laxative dependency.
I will skip all the unsavoury details of the difficulties one with a “lazy colon” has to endure and just say that it is a constant battle that instills feelings of utter hopelessness. Suffice to say that feelings of hopelessness and other emotional stressors worsen digestive motility which very quickly leads to a perpetual downward spiral. Throughout the years I tried everything to break this cycle, from colon-cleansing juice fasts and enemas to ayurvedic panchakarma. I also sought professional help from psychiatrists and psychologists to address the emotional aspects of the problem. There were a few minor successes throughout, but nothing that got my body working properly again, as I knew it could and should. Aside from my inactive colon, I was and am a perfectly healthy 20-something-year-old female. So I knew that my colon could work properly, I just needed proper rehabilitation. Unfortunately I was finding that all modern (and even some ancient) conventions were quick fixes with no real or lasting effects.
Okay, so now how yoga got me sh*tting again! In brief. (Pun intended)
Twists, forward bends, inversions and abdomen-massaging poses like mayurasana that get things moving, literally. A daily active practice in general activates the digestives system and improves circulation. The yogi squat is actually the safest and best position to properly “eliminate.”
Engaging mula and uddiyana bandha build awareness and control of our perineum and mid-section; two vital areas involved in digestion.
More physically, exercises like kapalabhati and bhastrika engage and stimulate the stomach and intestines. More mentally, other less active pranayam calm the body and in preparation for calming the mind. A solid pranayama practice is important in developing body awareness and a more restful sleep.
Emotional withholding and release if very much tied to physical withholding and release. Meditation helps in regulating emotional and behavioral extremes, productively evaluating thought patterns (especially negative ones) as well as tuning into the source of our mental and emotional hurdles.
Inconsistent sleep and eating patterns are taxing on the digestive system. Our bodies require routine in order to regulate and pace itself. This is why maintaining a regular physical practice and diet is essential. Also in general, consistency and routine help in diagnosing causes of illnesses and imbalances. I found having a morning kriya made the most profound difference in my digestive health to date.