Did you know that a Sun Salutation, a series of yoga poses linked together, has digestive health benefits? The diaphragm, which is where the rib cage meets the abdomen, is a muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen and regulates breathing depth and patterns. Ideally, your stomach should hang underneath the diaphragm, however, stress, shallow mouth breathing, lack of exercise, and indigestion can begin to tighten the stomach and pull it upwards. In Ayurveda, this is also known as a Vata imbalance. The elements of Vata are air and ether with the qualities of dry, light, cold, mobile, rough, and clear. Therefore, whenever an individual has upward movement of energy or upward moving pressure, it would be considered part of a Vata imbalance. Symptoms of upward moving energy would be constant belching, heartburn, acid reflux.
There is also a sphincter called the lower esophageal sphincter. The esophagus travels through the diaphragm, however, it is at this juncture where the lower esophageal sphincter opens and closes to allow food through and keeps digestive acids from refluxing up into the esophagus. If the stomach begins to adhere to the underside of the diaphragm, it can begin to compromise the total function of the stomach. This creates the upward movement of acid and causes the diaphragm to tighten. When this happens, the stomach is unable to contract and produce acid it needs to digest hard to digest foods such as wheat, dairy, and fried foods.
So how does the yoga sequence called Sun Salutation help with digestion? A sun salutation provides flexion and extension during a series of postures that are coordinated with each nasal inhalation and exhalation. The extension, or back bending, postures move the rib cage up and back while the diaphragm pulls the lower chest and abdomen down and in giving a deep stretch to the diaphragm, heart and lungs. The abdomen, stomach and liver are pulled down creating more space under the diaphragm for optimal digestion and freedom for deep breathing. The flexion, or forward bending postures all for brings the rib cage and abdomen together. At this point the diaphragm is relaxing and the rib cage squeezes the lungs in an effort to exhale, it’s like an accordion bringing the rib cage and abdomen together. The tissues and organ around the diaphragm soften allowing for increased blood flow.
Click here to view a short video on two variations of Sun Salutations.
Hope you enjoy adding a few Sun Salutations into your daily routine.
|February has been set aside as National Heart Awareness Month which helps raise attention to heart disease. According to The American Heart Association®, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.
Ayurveda associates diseases of the heart to one’s blood chemistry, including hormones and toxicity. Fermentation of food in the digestive tract causes aggravation in the blood which leads to heart palpitations. Fermentation happens when we’re unable to digest the foods we eat. It might start out with gas, bloating, indigestion and/or constipation which then create toxicity in the blood leading to heart palpitations. The definition of Heart Palpitations is when there is a noticeable increase in the rhythm of your heartbeat. If you’ve ever experienced your heart beating in your chest while sitting or casually walking down the street, you might be experiencing heart palpitations. Your heart, while resting, may feel fast, slow, pounding, like it’s skipping beats, or simply beating at a normal rate. When you experience heart palpitations, you may also notice shortened, quick breaths, chills, or a light sweat. While it’s extremely important to seek medical care from your health care provider, it’s also important to look at what’s causing the fermentation of foods in your digestive tract and lifestyle habits that might also be contributing to the issue. Everyone’s body is unique, and the root causes of a disorder are particular to an individual. Addressing the unique imbalances in your blood and circulation is usually more accurate than following a diet for the general case.
Some of the causes association with heart palpitations might be from stress or anxiety. A recent trauma or ongoing emotional challenge can make your heart race. Some medical conditions and medications may cause palpitations or murmurs as well. If your palpitations accompany dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain, please contact your doctor.
An Ayurvedic approach to treatment would be to determine where the imbalances are coming from. Everything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in simple and easy way, using gunas or qualities. Gunas are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body. Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism. Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism. Typically, Heart Palpitations, are an imbalance of one or more of the following qualities: oily, heating, sweet, sour, salty that may be aggravating your system. A person with heart palpitations should avoid these qualities. Because we are all uniquely made, treatment recommendations will vary, and are based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance. Some of these recommendations might include eating warm meals at regular times, getting enough rest, gentle breathing exercises, calming treatments like massage and/or lymphatic drainage. For best results, schedule a one on one Digestive Health Coaching session. These sessions can also be booked in the evening via phone or on Tuesday’s.