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Digestive Breathing for Healthy Digestion

All the diseases originate from improper digestion. We all know about our heart and lungs but we pay little attention to our stomach since it takes lower priority in terms of fatal attacks. But we definitely attack it with wrong eating habits, over eating, lack of activity and exercise. 

We only care about it when there is a colicky pain, abdominal discomfort, hunger or loss of appetite. That is why so many people today are suffering from digestive disorders of one sort or another. Digestive breathing is one of the ways to give rest to the digestive system after having food especially afternoon food. Before we learn the technique of digestive breathing, a basic understanding of the digestive system is important in the quest for better health.



OUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

This system of the body is for the intake of the food, digestion of the food, the absorption of the food, water and the removal of the undigested material. There are different organs in this system.

MOUTH & TONGUE
These help in chewing of the food and sensing of the taste.

TEETH
For cutting and grinding of the food

SALIVARY GLANDS
These secrete saliva, which contains enzyme, which partially digests the starch and it mixes in the food to liquify the solid food so that it can be swallowed easily.

ESOPHAGUS
It is a tube like structure, which starts from the throat and joins the stomach. It is situated in the back part of the chest. It transmits the food and water to stomach. There is a sphincter mechanism at the joining of the esophagus and stomach so that the food once entered in the stomach dose not flow back in the esophagus.

STOMACH
It is situated in the abdomen. It is a bag like structure and it is the most distensible organ. It receives the food from esophagus. Acid in the stomach destroys the micro‐organisms. There is digestion of the starch. There is also proper liquifaction of the semisolid or solid material. Mucus production in the stomach protects the stomach mucosa from acid.

DUODENUM It is the beginning part of the intestine from the stomach. The bile from liver and digestive enzymes from pancreas reaches the duodenum through ducts.

SMALL INTESTINE
It is about 6 meters long. It floats in the center of the abdomen. Digestion of the starch, proteins, fats etc takes place in this intestine and the digested food gets absorbed. The absorption of the vitamins and minerals also takes place.

LARGE INTESTINE
It has three parts ascending, horizontal and descending colon. It absorbs water. It transmits undigested food to sigmoid colon and then to rectum. It produces mucus for lubrication.

ANAL CANAL
It controls passing of stool.

PANCREAS
It is situated on the back wall of the abdomen and near the duodenum. It produces digestive enzymes to digest protein, fat and carbohydrates. These enzymes are transmitted to the intestine through a tube. It also produces Insulin, which is the essential hormone for control of blood sugar.

LIVER
It is about 1.5 to 1.8 kg in weight. It is situated in the upper part of the right side of the abdomen. Functions: Metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, fats, Synthesis of bile, Storage of glycogen, iron, fat, vit‐A, D, Excretion of toxins and chemicals.

GALLBLADDER
It is a small bag like structure situated near the liver. The bile, which is synthesized by the liver, is stored in the gallbladder and it gets concentrated. It is released into the duodenum when there is food in it.

WHY DIGESTIVE BREATHING

A healthy digestive system is very important for your physical & mental health. To strengthen the system, it is necessary to strengthen & rebalance the digestive processes. One keeps eating or munching something or the other throughout the day & the stomach is being used like a dustbin. Thus the stomach has to over work for digestion. It often leads to indigestion. Undigested food ferments in the stomach & this would often lead to many diseases. A healthy digestive system reflects energy, vitality and a positive life style.

HOW DIGESTIVE BREATHING HELPS

Normally whenever one takes heavy food, one feels sleepy because all the blood supply goes to the abdomen & there is less blood supply in the brain. At that time, if you do digestive breathing for 15-20 minutes, the working capacity of the various glands connected to digestion process increases & adds digestive power. It also has a calming effect on the nerves which in turn relax your digestive system and the mind thus making it more effective.

TECHNIQUE FOR DIGESTIVE BREATHING

To start, lie down in Shavasna….relaxing the whole body…keep breathing- about 11 breaths- (11inhalation & 11 exhalation) to relax the internal organs of the stomach… then turn to left side gently….. fold the knees… place your left hand under the head…right hand on the right leg…or you can adjust your posture the way you want to…lying down in this position, inhale & exhale 21 times consciously & count the numbers mentally…. When you lie down on the left side, the stomach gets compressed to the floor & internal massage is happening inside the abdomen which helps in digestion because the shape of the stomach is in ‘C’ shape. Now come on the back & lie down in Shavasana…In this position, do breathing again mentally 21 times…..then turn to the right side & repeat the breathing 21 times... In the end, slowly turn to left side & breathe 7 times. Then slowly sit up. You’ll feel very light & relaxed.

WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE THE BODY

When you lie down & do breathing consciously, you are increasing the Prana Shakti. Prana is an energy within the Sukshma Sharira (subtle body) that gives rise to and activates the physical body or gross body. We have 72,000 subtle channels through which Prana flows. The dominant flow of Prana occurs within the Ida and Pingala Nadis. Between these Nadis lies the Shushumna Nadi, the ‘central’ channel that is located along the spinal axis of the body.

• When you lie to the left side, Pingala Nadi gets activated. It means flow of Prana is more in the right nostril. It indicates that vital energy is dominant & is producing heat for digestion.

• When you lie straight on the back, you are energizing the spine & balancing the flow of the other two channels. At that time the third Nadi- Sushumna is stimulated. It is located at the base of the spine & it travels directly up through the spinal cord.

• When you lie to right side, Ida Nadi gets activated & the flow of Prana is more in the left nostril. It indicates mental energy, coolness & relaxation.

• To recharge the body again you come back to left side.

The co-ordination of these three Nadis gives health, strength, mental peace and long life - and clears the way for the spiritual growth.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

After swallowing, food takes approximately three seconds to travel from the mouth to the stomach. It takes one to five minutes for the first mouthful to enter the duodenum, and twenty minutes for half the consumed food to leave the stomach. In four and a half hours it travels from the duodenum to the end of the small intestine. After five and a half hours the first mouthful has reached the start of the large intestine, the caecum. The first mouthful of food takes nine and a half hours to reach the end of the large intestine, the sigmoid colon. From start to finish, the complete process of digestion takes from twelve to twenty-four hours.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti