Yoga Tune Up® Yoga Tune Up Blog » The Ins, Outs, and In Betweens of Your Digestive Tract: Relax and Digest

The Ins, Outs, and In Betweens of Your Digestive Tract: Relax and Digest

Last week, I discussed the digestive organs and the anatomy of the abdomen. This week, I’ll outline some techniques to help your organs do their job more efficiently.

The success of our digestive system depends on food being able to pass through the tubes unrestricted. Chronic abdominal tension reduces our ability to digest, assimilate, and metabolize our food. Even though the digestive processes of our stomach and intestines are out of our conscious control, we can deliberately relax the abdomen to help free up the flow.

Try the following moves to help your food move!

1. Induce the relaxation response before and after eating.

Before eating, sit and breathe deeply to prime your body for digestion. Deep breathing will down regulate the nervous system before, during, and after eating. And it’s easier to feel satisfaction before getting too full. Many of us eat on the run, but for one meal day, chill for at least 20 minutes after to rest and digest.

2. Eat without distractions.

Stimulus from our environment can trigger fight or flight reactions. Like checking email. There may be that one message lurking in our inbox that prompts a load of to-dos. Focus on your food. Chew thoroughly to tire your jaw muscles. Realign your head from forward head position for ease of swallowing. Taste the subtle flavors of your meal.

3. Teach the muscles to relax with Yoga Tune Up® techniques.

Constant stress reinforces abdominal muscle contraction. Therefore, it might feel unfamiliar to relax the abdomen. The muscles need to relearn the sensation.

  1. Use the Courgeous® Ball for Global Shear on the Abdomen. (But not with a full stomach – unless you want to learn how your abs help with puking.)
  2. Practice Bridge Lifts with Uddiyana.

Feel how that goes down and tune in for the next installment on proper elimination posture.

Liked this article? Read The Ins, Outs, and In Betweens of Your Digestive Tract: How Muscle Imbalances in Your Jaw and Neck Affect Digestion – Part One: Chewing

About This Author

Yoga and mindful-eating helps Jessie reconnect to and appreciate her body and what it can do. Her goal is to bring her students the very best of what she is living and learning and to keep her classes real and honest. Jessie is known for her hands on approach and as an articulate teacher, so students can listen and go inward if they choose. Her personal style of teacher blends alignment and magical movements – techniques to unwind habitual body tension and pose add-ons to make shapes strong and comfortable. Together, with Jessie’s mindful-eating classes, students learn why, when, what, how, and how much to eat and where they invest their energy back into their lives. Jessie is a Yoga Alliance 200 HR E-RYT. She has completed both the Forrest Yoga Foundational and Advanced teacher training programs and is a Certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher. Jessie holds undergraduate degrees in nutrition and exercise physiology and a graduate degree in nutrition. She is also a licensed Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating facilitator. Jessie created Wild Wisdom Yoga to blend yoga and mindful-eating so students can fully realize their instinctive wisdom when moving and eating. She leads teacher-training programs featuring her signature program From Um to Om®: Public Speaking for Yoga Teachers.

The Ins, Outs, and In Betweens of Your Digestive Tract: Relax and Digest

  1. Janelle Schiavi says:

    Thank you for this article. Often times when my stomach is upset my mind immediately goes to what I ate that day. Not taking into account what may be going on with stress. Its so incredible how the nervous system plays such an important role is digestion and our stomachs reactions. I will definitely put belly breathing at the top of the list whenever my stomach starts to act up.

  2. Pam Katz says:

    I was initially interested in this article because my daughter has irritable bowel syndrome. I think this will be helpful for her but additionally I like how it has a video reinforcing belly breathing. I can see how this practice will be great for everyone in the family.

  3. christina uleano says:

    I definitely believe in the connection of mind body and eating. I am a huge stress eater and at times eat way more when stressed, and at other times i can not eat at all when really stressed. although not specifically discussed here , i think there is a huge connection to hormonal impact on stress eating and weight gain.

  4. Torie says:

    Being someone who eats a lot on the go, I find that taking the time to breathe and relax before/after eating helps me not only to relax my digestive system, but also my mind. I feel like I experience less indigestion and absorb more nutrients.

  5. Bree says:

    Thank you for this post. I love working with the corgeous ball in my abdomen. Primarily for scar tissue I have there from an old surgery, but I really enjoy the added benefit of encouraging healthy digestion and observing how perhaps some of my scar tissue has been affecting my digestion. Intriguing indeed!

  6. Mari says:

    Thank you for a great article…very informative. I didn’t realize how much chronic abdominal tension can affect our digestion, assimilate, and metabolize our food. I will definitely bring more mindfulness when I’m having a meal or about to have a meal. I also like the idea of doing some belly breathing prior to a meal, will definitely add that to my personal self-care. Looking forward to your next article.

  7. Mari says:

    Thank you for your informative article. I never thought to much about how chronic abdominal tension could have so much of an effect on our ability to digest, assimilate, and metabolize our food. I will definitely start practicing mindfulness more often and being more aware to what’s going on with me. I plan on doing some belly breathing techniques prior to eating to bring more awareness. Thank you

  8. Janice McFarland says:

    Thanks for your continued discussion on our digestive tract as it’s very educational. I am attempting to be mindful of my eating habits. Even though I haven’t practiced your techniques yet, I am looking forward to giving them a try and hopefully making them a part of my daily routine. Your background as a Mindful Eating facilitator is intriguing.

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