Yoga Poses can Benefit the Inside as Well as Outside

The external benefits of yoga are sometimes easily seen: a fit body, flexibility and perhaps a peaceful demeanor.

But did you know that you can find internal benefits with yoga as well?   No, we don’t mean inner peace and mental clarity, though those are certainly benefits of yoga.

No, we mean actual internal changes such as those affecting the bladder, the digestive system, the intestines, kidney, liver, ovaries, pituitary, prostate and thyroid.  Yoga, scientists and experts have discovered, has the ability to affect the function and performance of the internal organs and help alleviate some of the problems that may be connected with them.

The experts say that yoga is possibly the only physical activity that can, with proper execution, massage and stimulate the internal organs and improve their function.  With specific movements and poses, yoga can stimulate the flow of blood to these parts of the body, cleaning and detoxifying them.  Yoga has been proven to cut down on the amount of sodium in the system, increase the function of the endocrine, gastrointestinal and lymphatic systems, lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol and control the production of hormones.

Also, yoga has been proven to increase the production of red blood cells and Vitamin C, both of which are key to strengthening immunity.

Regarding specific movements, yoga positions, or asanas, that invert the body help increase the blood flow to the lungs and brain and lets the heart rest a bit from its constant work.  Performing inversion poses also has been found to improve sleep because they help to relax the sympathetic systems. With twisting poses or asanas, the move massages the organs, improving and increases the blood circulation within them.  And poses that require the student to bend forward can massage the abdominal area, while back-bends massage the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Below are a few internal areas of the body and the yoga poses that can help massage and improve their function.

Bladder - The Half Frog Pose: Lie down on the floor on your stomach and press your forearms to the floor while raising your head and upper body.  Flex your right leg and push the heel of your foot to your right buttock.  While supporting yourself with your right forearm, reach back with your left hand and grab the bottom of your foot.  Position your elbow so that it is pointing toward the ceiling, then position your hand on the top of your foot and curl your fingers over the tips of your toes, with the palm of your hand on the top of your foot.  Now push your food down toward your buttock.  If you're flexible enough, try to push your foot off to the side and attempt to press down to the floor, making sure to keep your knee lined up with your hip.  If you begin to feel pain, decrease the pressure.  Switch sides and perform the pose, which is also known as the Half Bhekasana, on the other side of your body for anywhere between two minutes and 20 seconds.

Digestive System – Bharadvaha’s Twist: Sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you.  Shift the weight of your body to your left buttock, bend your knees and position your legs on the right side of your body.  Your feet should be on the floor on the outside of your right hip and your right ankle should be positioned on the arch of your left foot.  Inhale deeply and stretch your torso as you shift your weight to your right buttock, moving your legs around to the left in the same position you had them place in on the right. Exhale and twist your midsection to the right, making sure to keep your left buttock in touch with the floor.  Relax your midsection and lengthen your back. Place your right hand under your left knee and place your left hand on the floor behind your left buttock.  Twist your right shoulder back a bit and press your shoulder blades into your back while continuing to twist your body to the left.  Every time you inhale, twist your torso a bit more and hold for no more than a minute.  Exhale and return to the original position with your legs straight out in front of you, then repeat for the other side of your body.

Sphinx Pose – Intestines: Lie on the floor on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you.  Gently stretch your spine, contracting your tailbone upward and then down toward your feet.  Now begin to turn the outer part of your thighs to the floor and continue to stretch your lower back.  Position your elbows under your shoulders and place your forearms on the floor so that they are evenly positioned.  Take a deep breath and lift the upper section of your torso from the floor in a  backbend position.  Your buttocks should be firm but not overly tight and you should try extending your tailbone to your feet to take pressure off of your lower back.  Next, gently raise your lower stomach area (below the navel but just above the pubic bone) up and in toward your lower back, creating a slight dome.  Don't tighten or suck in your stomach while performing this move.  Hold this position for 30 to 40 seconds and then exhale and relax your stomach area as your lower your torso to the floor.  Relax and repeat the pose if you wish.

There are many other poses that benefit these areas of internal areas of the body, as well as poses for other internal areas of the body.  Consult with a yoga professional to find out the proper execution of these moves and more, as well as how yoga can help create a better you – inside and out.

Check out Kamloops Yoga for more yoga info.

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