More yoga for digestion: Apanasana Cycle

Prana is the yogic word for the energy of life. The yogis describe a variety of Pranas that flow in different directions through and around the body. Each prana has its own purpose in our physical function and health. Apana is the energy that cleanses the body. It is a downward flowing energy that keeps us connected to our earthiness. Apana is the energy of elimination and of letting go. Apana is the energy that moves with nourishment through the physical body. As such, a good flow of Apana is necessary for good digestion.

Apanasana is designed to stimulate the flow of Apana (posture). To practice Apanasana begin by lying down with your back on the floor, your head supported with a small lift as necessary, your knees either bent or your legs extended along the floor. Make sure the low back feels comfortable.

Draw first your right knee into your chest and give it a gentle squeeze. You can rock your knee right and left as you hold the knee into the belly. The left leg can rest with either the sole of the foot on the floor or the leg fully extended along the floor. Make sure your low back is comfortable. Hold the knee into the belly for 20 to 60 seconds. Then release the right leg, rest for a few breaths and repeat on the left side.

Second, draw both knees into your belly at the same time. Support your legs with your hands holding either outside or behind the knees. You may draw your head up from the floor and curl in toward your knees. Do not lift your head if you have any neck pain or irritation. Hold the knees into the belly for up to 2 minutes. Then rest.

Third, return to the first position with the right knee tucked into the belly. Hold your right knee with your left hand and extend your right arm along the floor, directly out from your right shoulder. Draw your right knee to the left, to hover over your left hip. Breath into the right hip for about 6 breath cycles, opening and stretching the hip. Then draw right knee further to the left, rotating your hips to come into a supine twist. There is always some balance to find between either drawing the knee to the floor or keeping the shoulders on the floor. Find the position that optimally stretches the back and compresses the lower abdomen. Hold for up to 2 minutes and then repeat on the second side.

These poses massage and stimulate the lower digestive track. They are particularly useful when you are having digestive problems while traveling. These poses should not be practiced during pregnancy.