Eastern Solutions for Digestive Problems By Chahna Tailor Gupta
Happy May and Happy Spring! The season of spring brings qualities of prithvi (earth) and jal/aap (water) elements such as wet, heavy, dense, soft, cloudy, cool, stable, dense, and solid. Environmental changes can affect our bodies in different ways. Some of us enjoy the excess moisture in the air and feel more down to earth, whereas others may present with allergies, mucus buildup, congestion, lethargy, fluid buildup, and sluggish digestion. According to Ayurveda, our health is determined by the state of our digestive system.
Our digestive system is not only affected by what we eat, but also the environment, our lifestyle, and our state of mind. If we are anxious, stressed, depressed, angry, or any other type of emotion, our digestion may work differently than usual. If we live in a place that has certain qualities, those qualities can affect our digestive power. We can utilize Ayurveda and yogic practices such as asana (poses), pranayama (breath work), and even dhyana (meditation) to bring some equilibrium to our lives and eliminate the effects of these unbalancing qualities..
If you feel like your digestive system is sluggish or in need of a jump start, Kapal bhati is a great technique to use. The passive inhale and active inhale helps to stimulate the belly and also gets us to sweat! If you are constipated or do not feel like you are completely eliminating everything in your bowels whenever you take a trip to the bathroom, you can use pawanmuktasana (wind releasing pose – which is appropriately named because many people do end up releasing wind in this pose!) to help move things along and help to clean your bowels out. You can get into this pose by laying down on your back and bringing one or both knees to your chest. You can also start taking CCF tea (coriander, cumin, fennel) to help balance your gut. Since CCF tea is tridoshic (good for balancing vata, pitta, and kapha), it can be a good tea for many people’s digestive system. Triphala is also tridoshic so that can also help in stimulating a bowel movement. Triphala literally translates to ‘three fruits’, and is a mix of amla, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Each of the dried fruits is in charge of balancing one dosha, and altogether, is great for balancing the digestive system in cases of sluggishness. Of course, it is important to contact an Ayurvedic Practitioner (like me!) to make sure that these suggestions are appropriate for you.
When I was in Rishikesh for yoga teacher training, the majority of the class was constipated for the first two weeks or so because of the time difference and intense schedule. It became our homework to take a teaspoon of triphala with warm water before bed. The second part of homework was to wake up, immediately get into malasana (garland pose), put a hand on each knee, and start to push one knee down and then the other (for ten repetitions on each side). When your knee comes back up, your thigh presses up against your bowels, stimulating them, and helps you to go to the bathroom. Trust me, the homework was very effective for all of us and it had to be. Because if we didn’t do it before class, then we would have definitely had to go during our 5:30am hatha yoga class because of some of the bowel-stimulating poses we had to do!
Spring is going to soon change into summer, and with that will come different environmental qualities that again may affect us and bring us off balance or maybe even make us feel really good! If you’re not sure how to keep yourself balanced during the season changes, schedule an in-person or virtual consultation and we can work together to find the best personalized plan for your wellness! Find some spring re-leaf and feel a-May-zing!
About the Author
Chahna Tailor Gupta, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and certified yoga teacher, has a background in occupational therapy and health science with a focus in public health. Chahna was yoga trained in Rishikesh, India and had ayurvedic clinicals in Kannur, Kerala. Chahna provides yoga, pranayama, meditation, 200-hr yoga teacher training, and ayurvedic health counseling services through her company Namaskar To You. Chahna is a volunteer for Ekal Vidyalaya, American Association of Ayurvedic Professionals (AAAP), and Ayurveda Association of Florida (AAF). She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Ayurvedic Medicine while continuing her self-studies in yoga.