By Atul Vyas
The small intestine is the next organ after the stomach. After your stomach has processed food it is pushed down into the small intestine where enzymes are secreted by the pancreas and intestinal lining which break down the food.
The small intestine is lined up with tiny hairs called microvilli which provide a huge surface area for the absorption of usable nutrients extracted from food by digestive enzymes. These microvilli are embedded in the lining of the small intestine which is like tightly woven mesh that keeps toxins and food particles inside the digestive tract while letting only fully digested micronutrients into the bloodstream. This section of the intestine also contains a small number of intestinal bacteria but not as much as the large intestine.
The small intestine is extremely important in digestion because it is here where most of the nutrition from food is absorbed or burned for fuel. In yogic philosophy, it is considered as heat center or center for Agni or the digestive fire.
Agni is an important concept in yoga because it is the energy of metabolism that turns food into fuel for living beings. It is also the digestive fire for the emotions, experiences, and everything else we “ingest” physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Strong Agni in the body indicates strong digestion. A weak digestive fire or Agni creates an accumulation of toxins called “ama” in Ayurveda and may lead to poor self-esteem and the weakening of personal power. Weak Agni can also cause difficulty in accomplishing goals leading to procrastination based on insecurity and indecision.
There is one among many effective yogic poses for improving the functioning of both small and large intestines known as “Dhanurasana” or the Bow pose. The body is bent in such a way in this pose that its outer profile looks like a bow, hence named dhanurasana.
- Lie flat on the floor on your belly arms by your side
- Fold the legs from the knee and bring heels close to the buttocks
- Stretch your arms backward to hold the ankle joints of both legs firmly
- Raise both the thighs together with the chest and head upwards
- Leave the body balanced on the belly on the ground
- Once in the pose, breath normally
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 3 times
Those with belly fat can keep thighs resting on the ground with the belly raising only the chest and head but also holding ankle joints.
- Improves functioning of the small and large intestine, liver, kidney, and spleen
- Helps in various types of gut ailments like poor appetite, acidity, constipation, flatulence, etc.
- Effective in the cases of colitis and back pain
- Reduces fat on the abdomen
- Helps with respiratory problems
- Revitalizes spinal nerves and induces spinal flexibility
Note of Caution
Those suffering from high blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, sinus tachycardia, and hernia should avoid this pose.
(The author likes to be called a “Yoga Scientist.” He is a celebrity yoga trainer and has trained several top Hollywood and Bollywood stars. He has trained for years under many eminent yoga gurus including his illustrious mother Daya Vyas, the first lady yoga guru of India.)