So many people are talking about hatha yoga these days. Increasingly people are finding out about its benefits and experiencing all that this ancient practice has to offer. Even if people have not tried it, certainly they’ve heard about it. As a yoga teacher, when I tell people my occupation, I’m continually amazed at the amount of people from so many different backgrounds and generations that express favorable experiences from taking yoga or report hearing good things about it. Just this week alone several people told me that when they were doing yoga regularly they felt the best they ever had and that they wanted to get back to that.
A regular yoga asana practice can help a person manage stress, gain strength and flexibility, increase energy levels, tone internal organs, calm the nervous system and the mind, oxygenate the body, improve focus, detoxify, improve digestion, balance metabolism and much more. It may or may not come as a surprise that hatha yoga is effective at relieving constipation. Although this is not often discussed it’s of great value to be aware of this fact.
Doctors may recommend their patients try yoga or meditation to help manage stress. In the same way, they could also recommend yoga to their patients as a potential remedy for constipation. A regular yoga practice and especially one that includes specific yoga asanas may provide relief even to people that suffer from chronic constipation. That is pretty awesome!
We all know how uncomfortable suffering from constipation can be. It is miserable! Well, I am here to tell you that relief could be just a few yoga asanas away! Since we normally don’t go around advertising that we are constipated, this is something that we don’t commonly receive advice from friends about, unless we are very comfortable with that person! As a friend to all, I am happy to offer you some simple advice. My suggestion is to do some yoga asanas any time you are experiencing this problem. These postures when done regularly can also act preventatively and keep things moving along before there is a problem at all, if you know what I mean.
Here are three simple poses that can help relieve constipation:
1. Wind Relieving Pose (the name says it all)
Simply recline on your back and hug your legs into your chest (this is like a cannon ball on your back). Alternatively, you can extend one leg out along the floor while holding the other knee into your chest with interlaced fingers. Hold for a minute or two and then switch legs. Don’t forget to breath!
2. Supine Twist (lying twist)
Lying on your back, bring your legs to your chest (cannon ball), and then extend the left leg out. Draw in your right leg with knee bent to your chest. Keeping the knee drawn in toward your chest it moves across to the left side of the body in a twist, while keeping your shoulders flat on the floor. Look towards the right. Hold, and then switch sides. If you are holding this pose at length and would like support under the knee then a block, blanket or pillow can be placed under the knee. Soften and breathe.
3. Childs Pose
Start by kneeling on your knees, with your knees touching. Sit down so your bottom is touching your feet (or as close as they can get) with your hands on your knees. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and slowly start to move them forward, lowering your body down until your stomach is on your knees (or as close as possible), forehead rests on the ground, and your arms are stretched out in front of you. In this child’s pose, your hands stay touching the floor or you can take them back palms up by your feet. If your forehead does not rest on the ground then you can stack your fists to rest the forehead on. Take several deep breaths in and out of the nose and hold this pose for a couple minutes if possible.
Now you know three yoga postures that are known to offer relief to constipation. These can be done everyday! In addition, drinking sufficient water and eating whole foods is also a general recommendation. Deep breathing and a regular meditation practice can also relieve indigestion caused by stress and a hectic lifestyle. The deep relaxation at the end of a hatha yoga class is call shavasana and is deeply restorative. It is a must for stress management and will also aid digestion.
That all being said, you know when you call a medical office and the recording says “if this is a true medical emergency hang up and dial 911?” Well, I also must add that if you indeed are experiencing severe constipation and your symptoms do not improve or get worse then you may want to consider seeking medical help. You can still do your yoga too! Just saying!
I hope that hatha yoga is something that you enjoy as part of your weekly wellness routine. Now you have one more reason to keep it up or add it to your life!