Our digestive system moves food we eat, secrete enzymes to act on the food – to do all of this well it need mind’s attention and energy to operate. Our mind is the prime mover of the digestive process, but in our adult years, the mind is overburdened with stresses of daily life and not able to attend to the needs of the digestive process. For example, most of us would have experienced that when we are depressed, our mind is overactive and we have an upset stomach. The mind is not focusing on its vital role of digestive system management.
Moreover, over the years, we reduce the eating process to a mechanical habit rather than a conscious and pleasurable act in which a moderate quantity of simple, pure food, sufficient to maintain the body’s requirements, is eaten with full awareness.
The combined effects of the above are constipation and the two extremes of indigestion – hypoacidity and hyperacidity. In these cases, there is often a digestive imbalance which demands correction through yogic and dietary measures if more serious harm to the overall state of physical health is to be avoided.
You may find the following useful to set the digestive system back on track:
1. Asana: Pawanmuktasana series are the anti-gastric exercises. They should be practiced each morning. Vajrasana should be adopted for ten minutes immediately after each meal, if possible. This posture promotes optimal digestion. Dhanuransa and Vipreet Karani Asanas are also very effective to manage digestive problems.
2. Pranayama: Nadi shodhana Or Anulom Vilom 10 rounds each morning. Bhastrika is also useful in dealing with digestive imbalance.
3. Bandha: Bandhas are extremely effective for digestive disorders. Jalandhara, moola and uddiyana should be incorporated into pranayama practices. These will prove long term solution and will restore the health of the digestive system.
4. Shatkarma: Shatkarmas are for cleaning and body- many of them are aimed at cleaning the intestines. Laghoo shankhaprakshalana provide immediate relief to digestive problems. It should be practised for at least once a week. Agnisar kriya though a bit difficult is extremely effective cure for all digestive system problem.
5. Meditation: Chiidakaash Dharana and/or yoga nidra each morning/afternoon or evening. The Dharanas quoted above will get you immediate relief and digestive system will start improving. The meditation is useful to restore the right attention of the mind on the digestive process.
Overall we should try to develop self-awareness while eating food. Eating slowly and experiencing the unique taste of food is very important. This refocuses our mind on digestive process. When we are anxious excited or tense, we should avoid eating. Proper digestion demands that total awareness be focused on eating, and that the body and mind are relaxed. If the mind remains tense or preoccupied, the necessary digestive energies cannot be awakened and indigestion will result. If one is anxious or tense when food is being served, it is better to relax for 10 minutes in some meditative practice and then eat.