The following article by Swami Purohit was first published in the September 2019 edition of the best selling UK magazine, "Health and Wellbeing".
All exercises are best done on an empty stomach: 3 hours after the last meal.
This exercise helps prepare the abdomen for the yoga practice. Exhale strongly through your nostrils in order to empty your lungs of air. Them move your stomach in and out. Do this several times and then inhale. Repeat this 3 to 5 times. If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to hold your breath, you can start by doing the exercise while still breathing normally.
2: PAWAN MUKTA ASANA:
This pose compresses the colon stimulating the nerves to aid the digestive process. Lie on your back with legs stretched out. Hug your right knee towards the right side of your ribcage. Meanwhile, press your left leg, still straight, towards the floor and use your nads to pull your right sin downwards. Hold this posture or 1 or 2 minutes, whatever is comfortable, and then release gently and repeat on the opposite side.
3: ARDHA PAWAN MUKTA:
This posture is excellent for releasing trapped gas and therefore eliminating bloating and discomfort. Begin as with Pawan Mukta Asana with one knee pulled up to your chest and then bend your right knee to the left while simultaneously stretching your right arm straight out to the right. If you wish to deepen the stretch you can use your left hand to gently push your right knee closer to the floor. Breathe naturally and enjoy the sensation of this stretch for as long as is comfortable.
4: MARJARYASANA OR CAT POSTURE:
As well as being a great stretch for the back, this posture gently massages the belly organs which activates and stimulates them. Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Place your head in a comfortable position, eyes looking at the floor. As you exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest. Inhale, coming back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.
5: SALABHASANA OR LOCUST POSE:
This pose helps a variety of complaints including fatigue, flatulence, constipation, indigestión and lower back pain. Lie on your stomach with your arms by your side. Engage your glutes and, as you inhale, lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs off the floor. Keep your big toes turned towards each other. Hold to the count of 5 and then exhale and release to the floor.
6: DHANURASANA OR BOW POSTURE (see the photo of Swamiji above):
This pose can alleviate constipation but can also improve back pain, respiratory ailments and menstrual cramps. In the same position as for the Locust Pose above, bend your knees up and hold your ankles or feet. Engage your glutes and as you inhale lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor. Gently pull on your ankles/feet to create a bow shape with your body. While in this position, your breath can be used to create a rocking motion which will stimulate the digestive tract. After inhaling and exhaling 5 times, release your legs and arms gently to the ground.
7: ASHWINI MUDRA:
This exercise improves stomach health, and alleviates bloating. This posture also has beneficial results on the hormonal system, particularly on the thyroid gland. It is thought to balance the nervous, digestive, circulatory and reproductive systems in our bodies. Sit in an upright position, but relaxed and breathing normally. Now contract the muscles in you back passage and hold for 10 seconds. Then release your muscles slowly and breathe. Repeat as many times as is comfortable.
8: UDDIYANA BHANDA OR ABDOMINAL LOCK:
This pose strengthens the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. It also improves digestión, assimilation and elimination. While standing, exhale completely through your nostrils. Holding your breath, expand your ribcage as if you were inhaling, but without inhaling at all. This will pull the abdominal muscles inwards and upwards, forming a concavity, or hollow, in your belly. This is Uddiyana Bhanda. Hold for 15 seconds (less if you are uncomfortable) and then release your muscles allowing them to lower to their original position. Do this up to 10 times, according to your capacity.
9: SHAVASANA OR RELAXATION POSE:
Also known as the “corpse pose” this is the perfect way to end your yoga for digestión sequence. Lie on your back, legs and arms stretched out and relaxed. Release all your muscles and breathe gently and normally. Close your eyes and stay in this position for at least 5 minutes. It calms the brain and relaxes the body.
To complement this practice, we recommend taking Tripahala Churna, a natural, Ayurvedic remedy which balances the digestive function: