Tis the season that we overindulge, so I thought I'd pass on a few tips for dealing with digestion issues.
1. Wind-Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
Laying on your back, inhale and extend both of your legs out straight. On an exhale, hug your knees into your chest using both arms, connecting the tops of your thighs to your stomach/chest.
Take a few deep breaths in this position, allowing your body to relax and release.
Find your acupressure point (details below) and massage that for a minute or so as you hold this pose, continuing to breathe deeply and mindfully.
Acupressure point: Stomach 36
Find it: Place your hand just below your opposite knee, with the side of your index finger along the base of your kneecap. At about the tip of your pinky, just on the outside of your tibia, you’ll find this digestion-supporting acupressure point.
Why this works:
“On its own, Pawanmuktasana is a go-to pose for gas and bloating relief, as it helps to expel trapped air in the digestive tract,” says Sas. “Combining this with acupressure at the command point of the abdomen, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, benefits the stomach and spleen by helping with the nourishment of digestion, while regulating intestines and expelling wind-gas. It’s a win-win.”
2. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
With your feet wider than hips-width distance apart, turn your toes outward. (Think: sumo squat or second position grand plié)
Sink into a squat, tucking your tailbone slightly, maintaining an external rotation with your thighs. Lock in your abdominal muscles and maintain an upright spine with relaxed shoulder blades.
Lift your heels up, putting the weight into the balls of your feet.
Lower heels, shifting weight into the back of the feet to lift the toes.
Hinge at the waist to grab under your toes and stimulate the pressure points (see below to locate). You can do this one at a time.
Repeat the lifting and lowering of your heels, focusing your attention on the acupressure point.
End with feet flat on the ground.
Acupressure point: Kidney 1
Find it: “This point is basically the center of the sole of the foot,” says Sas. (Think more bottom of your metatarsals, rather than bottom of your arch.)
Why this works:
“Goddess pose helps generate warmth throughout your body, and the increased circulation can help with your digestion,” says Sas. Adding the Kidney 1 acupressure massage can help center you. “Breathe deep, sending energy into your feet to feel a sense of grounding, support, and strength,” says Sas. “When we are grounded and centered, our digestion is supported.” The opposite is also true: When we’re stressed, our digestion takes a toll.
3. Easy Seated Twist (Parivrtta Sukhasana)
Sitting in a cross-legged position, with your spine straight and the crown of your head reaching toward the sky, bring your left hand to your right knee.
Keeping your spine straight, twist to the right, placing your right hand behind you on the floor, near your hip. Ensure you don’t go too far and lose your posture.
Look over your right shoulder, and breathe deeply into the twist.
In this position, locate and massage the acupuncture point with your left hand (location detailed below).
Change your cross-legged position (if the right leg was on top, bring the left to the top) and repeat this exercise on the opposite side, ensuring you continue to breathe deeply.
Acupressure point: Spleen 21
Find it: “This point is called ‘The Great Embrace’ and is located on the side of your ribcage,” says Sas. “It can be easily stimulated during a seated spinal twist while you give yourself a hug.”
Why this works:
Twisting poses are popular choices for digestive health, and for good reason: Twisting the torso helps stimulate the digestive organs.
With easy seated twist, especially when you begin with a twist to the right, you’ll massage the ascending colon, and then descending colon as you twist to the left, helping to “move things along,” as they say. Adding in some acupressure bolsters this effect. “Spleen 21 moves Qi [energy] and blood,” explains Sas. “This transforms stagnation in the body, especially around the diaphragm, which [according to TCM] assists with better digestion.”
To These I would add:
Ren 12 - Where the energy of the stomach gathers and collects. This acupoint is used for lack of appetite and indigestion. Excess emotion while eating, especially anger, can damage the function of the stomach. This acupoint relieves stomach upset that is related to emotions. It can also alleviate fullness from overeating, gas, bloating, and acid regurgitation.;
Sp 15 Regulates the Qi of the Intestines. Strengthens the Spleen. Abdominal pain and distension, diarrhea, dysentery, constipation.and
St 25 - Where the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract meet and relate to each other. Useful in alleviating constipation, diarrhea, and any other kind of intestinal disorder.
As a practice try the following acupressure for Enhancing the Digestive Function:
1. Use the middle finger to knead the center of the upper abdomen (Rn12), 30 times. Then rub the area with the palm, first in a clockwise and then in a counterclockwise direction, 30 times.
2. Use the finger tips to push to and fro along the midline of the upper abdomen, 30 times.
3. Use the sides of the little finger to press on sides of the navel then rub up and down over the lower abdomen, 30 times.
4. Clench the fists, thump on both sides of the back, lateral to the lower thoracic vertebra (BI20, 21), 30 times.
5. Knead 2-finger-breadths above the middle of the wrist (Pc6) on both hands, 30
6. Knead 1-finger-breadth below the anterior crest of the tibia (St36), 30 times on each leg.
This massage enhances digestion and excretion, and helps to relieve distention, indigestion, belching, and constipation. When kneading or pressing on particular points, there should be enough force to bring about numbness or soreness, while rubbing or wiping should create a feeling of warmth.
Lee Holden suggests the following qigong postures:
"Standing Routine for Healthy Digestion.
1. Knocking on the Door of Life
Brings energy to the internal organs, opens the low back, and increases energy.
2. Deep Abdominal Breathing
Massages internal organs; clears stress and tension from the body and digestive system.
3. Energy Belt Breathing
Massages the internal organs; strengthens the diaphragm, lungs, and internal organs.
4. Fire Breathing
Increases metabolism, strengthens the digestive fire, and energizes the organs.
5. Abdominal Circles
Soothes digestion, clears stress from digestive organs, and brings circulation to the abdomen.
6. The Pump tract.
Strengthens energy in the internal organs and in the digestive
7. The Arrow
Strengthens the legs and stretches the spine.
8. The Arrow: Stretch and Flow
Clears stress and tension from the body; improves flexibility in the abdomen, chest, back, and hamstrings.
9. Qi Belt Flow
Relaxes the digestion, clears stress, and creates a feeling of being centered.
10. Spreading the Feathers and Twist
Clears tension from the rib cage, opens the diaphragm, and brings energy to the internal organs.
Clears stress and tension, opens the joints, and relaxes the internal organs.
12. Tree Swaying
Brings energy into the digestive organs, opens the hips, and creates a feeling of being centered.
13. Pebble in the Pond
Brings healing energy into the digestive system. Calms emotional energy.
14. Turning the Wheel
Creates a feeling of being centered and balanced. Cultivates digestive energy.
Relaxes the mind, balances emotions, and brings energy into the digestive system.
16. Qi Ball Breathing
Meditative and energetic exercise to focus energy into the lower abdomen and digestive system."
To which I would strongly recommend the Digestion Twist.
HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!