6 Tips To Improve Digestion

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Ayurveda is often described as sister science to yoga. As a yoga teacher, Ayurveda has helped me deepen and enrich my practice in ways I didn’t know were possible. It also taught me how to treat common aliments like indigestion, constipation, sleeplessness, heart-burn and other health issues that can’t be addressed with asana alone.

Every thing comes down to digestion in Ayurveda. When digestion is optimal, we say that agni or the digestive fire is balanced. This makes the immunity system and metabolism strong. We are energetic, we sleep well, we eliminate properly and we maintain a healthy weight. When digestion is poor, we can experience any or all of the following: gas, bloating, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, congestion, sleeplessness, low libido, inflammation, emancipation, heart burn and in serious cases, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), crohn’s disease or diabetes.

6 tips to improve digestion and all of the above:

1- Be Mindful. Take time to make and eat your food consciously in a quiet & settled environment. The energy you put into preparing meals and enjoying them will help your digestion more than anything else. If you are upset or angry, it’s important to release those negative emotions before you touch food, because the energy you put in is what you get out. Drink some water, go for a walk, take deep breaths and/or write out your frustrations and worries and then burn the pages.

2- One thing at a time. In our fast paced world, it’s easy to sit at the computer or television and have lunch, or worse, eat while driving. This confuses the nervous system, so it’s best to avoid multi-tasking during meals. Plus, distractions usually lead to overeating. It’s important to sit and acknowledge the food you eat.

3- Eat when you are hungry. If you are not hungry, say in the morning, your body isn’t ready for food and you will strain your digestive system. This said, if you are hungry, eat. Hunger is sign that there are enough digestive juices (acid) in the body to assimilate food. The body will hold this acid in the small intestine for approximately 30 minutes, after which it will be transferred to the colon and reabsorbed into the blood stream. Overtime, this increases general acidity in the body.

4- Take time to digest. Avoid eating until the previous meal has been digested. Allow approximately three to six hours between meals. Snacking should be reserved for when you are very hungry between meals. Constant ‘mindless munching’ throughout the day overworks and weakens digestion. Fruits are the best as snacks because they digest quickly and easily.

5- Fresh and warm. In Ayurveda, food is best eaten fresh and warm (or at room temperature). Leftovers have a tendency to cause gas, bloating and indigestion. Cold, frozen or iced foods and beverages should also be avoided and they also decrease the strength of our agni (digestive fire) and interfere with digestion.

6- Create a routine. If you make a point of eating at the same time everyday, your body will adjust and thrive with the regularity. This will help with all the above suggestions.

BONUS: In Ayurveda, we believe that each individual is a unique composition of elements. Understanding what the best foods are for your individual constitution or dosha will help you achieve your specific health goals. Whether you want to loose weight, improve digestion or increase your energy level, an ayurvedic practitioner can further assist you in addressing your needs.

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Yasmin F. Gow, ERYT 500, has taught yoga for over a decade. She is also an accredited ayurvedic practitioner and the producer of five yoga DVDs. In 2010, she completed 108 days of 108 sun salutations and became the first woman to break the Guinness World Records™ Record for the longest yoga marathon lasting 32 hours. This initiative raised thousands of dollars for charity and was featured in publications worldwide, including India’s national newspaper the Times of India.
A former studio owner, Yasmin currently offers ayurvedic consultations, leads workshops internationally and mentors others to reach great heights.

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