Yin Yoga for the Intestines

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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Yin Yoga for the Intestines

Post by Bernie »

I recently received the following question:

  • One of my students has a problem with her intestines. They work too fast. Sometimes in the morning when she goes to work, she has to return to her house because there is no bathroom in the train. Her food in the evening is excreted early in the morning. Her internist can't help her. Abouth the rest she is healthy. Do you know some yoga exercises that can help her? Is the flow for the stomach and the spleen meridian lines suitable for her? I thank you in advance for your advise.

There are many possible avenues to investigate with your student, but as always, remember that you are not a doctor. If this situation has been ongoing she may want to get another health care professional to check her over, to make sure that these symptoms are not due to something serious.

Your comment about your student’s problem travelling on a train could indicate some anxiety: many people become anxious when they feel that there is no bathroom around - they start to imagine the worst (catastrophizing) and thus work themselves into an anxious state. The anxiety manifests as loose bowels, creating the need for a washroom, and of course there is no washroom, which makes the anxiety even worse. This can create a vicious mental cycle which feeds on itself. If you feel your student suffers from anxiety, again a therapist or counsellor can definitely help her. She could try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (see the section in YinSights on CBT.)

Let’s assume however, that there is no medical problem that concerns her doctor, nor is this an anxiety issue. What can yoga do to help? There are a couple of avenues you can explore with the student. First - yes, your instinct to work the Stomach/Spleen meridian lines could be beneficial. The flows in my books can be useful. Check out the ones specifically targeting the spine. However, since she is complaining about the intestines, those meridian lines are found in the upper body. She could add some upper body Yin Yoga postures to her practice as I describe in this Newsletter. These postures will stimulate the large and small intestines meridians.

On the other hand, direct massage can also be helpful. Do you know nauli or agni sara? These practices directly stimulate the digestive organs. Nauli takes a while to really learn but versions of agni sara can be learned quite quickly. Also, self-massage of the stomach in a counter-clockwise direction (imagining a clock on her belly with 12 being up and 6 being down, 3 to the left side and 9 to the right side) may help to relieve loose bowels or fast acting digestion.

Finally, diet can also play a big role here - again a health care professional can assist. Is she getting enough fibre in her diet? Enough probiotics? What does she eat?

It is tempting to think that yoga can help every situation, but people are not just yoga students. Life is complex and our lives are complicated. You would have to really understand your student: lifestyle, diet, exercise, genetics, medication, stressors: family, work, finances, etc … all of these can play a role or multiple roles in what she is experiencing.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
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