By Atul Vyas
“It is not what you eat but what you digest that is central to your health,” says an ancient proverb in Ayurveda. Digestion influences everything – body and mind. Strong digestive tracts extract nutrients from the food, fuel activities, build and repair the body, remove toxins, and energize your brain.
Moreover, weak digestion results in the accumulation of toxins or Ama – the name of toxins of undigested food in Ayurveda, and tissue inflammation from the brain to toe. Weak digestion is also a precursor to chronic diseases. Health begins with digestion and disease starts with impaired digestion. If one does not tone digestion for absorption, and proper and prompt elimination of toxins from the body, one cannot achieve normal health. So it is important to understand how digestion works.
The most important factor in digestion is the digestive fire called “Agni” in Ayurveda. This Agni is responsible for the extraction of the nutrition from our food. So regulating this fire within is critical for good health and treatment of the diseases.
The seat of fire in the human body as per yogic texts is Manipur chakra or naval. It is also believed that the naval center or “nabhi chakra” is the center and is said to be the source of 72000 nadis or psychic channels. There are many yogic kriyas or actions which stimulate nabhi chakra and one of them is Naukasana, the boat pose.
This pose is one of the best for stoking the digestive fire and strengthening and toning the abdominal organs. It works the muscles of the lower back. Let’s try the traditional Naukasana.
- Lie down comfortably on the ground on your back with legs stretched out with hands beside the hips
- Inhale and raise the body both below and above the hips
- Waist should be raised about a foot and hands should be raised above the head
- No portion of the body above or below the waist and hips touches the ground
- Breathe normally and focus on naval
- A good exercise for the nervous and musculoskeletal system
- Activates the function of pancreatic beta cells
- This pose has the power to put the naval in a normal position, if displaced
- Helps to overcome nervousness
- Generates neurogenic impulses
- Improves pelvic circulation and cardiac output
- Useful in diabetes and dyspepsia
Note of Caution
People suffering from degenerative disc syndrome should avoid this asana.
(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.)