Jump-start Your Digestion, And Your Day

kundalini Yoga for energy and chiI am happy to report that I am pregnant with our second child (expected time of arrival is early spring). Yay! What I’m not so happy to report is that pregnancy, like so many other things in life, takes a major toll on digestion and on energy. I don’t want to get in to a big discussion about poo (which happens all too frequently now that I’ve entered the realm of motherhood), but I know that staying regular and feeling less tired is a major concern for a lot of people, not just pregnant ladies.

That is why I want to tell you about the three easy-peasy yoga moves I’ve started doing every morning: They really get things moving in the digestion department and make me feel like I can handle whatever the day will bring, no matter how fitfully I may have slept. As an added bonus, these moves also make your spine more flexible (which means it’s better able to support you through the day’s inevitable bumps), enable you to work a little meditation-in-motion in to your day before you even get out of your jammies, and help you go from creaky and disoriented to limber and awake in about five minutes.

These three particular moves come from Kundalini yoga—a form that uses numerous repetitions of rhythmic movements and a major focus on the breath to wake up the vital energy believed to reside at the base of the spine. Full disclosure: I’ve never taken an actual Kundalini class—I learned these exercises from Maya Fiennes, a Kundalini teacher in London, when I interviewed her for a story I wrote for Body + Soul magazine (she has an excellent DVD, Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress). These are the three exercises she recommended as an ideal way to start your day. (You can see the full story, complete with pictures of the exercises, here.) They can all be done while sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor. And if that’s not comfortable or doable for you, you can either sit up on some neatly folded blankets or sit on the edge of the seat of a hard chair (such as a dining chair). And between each exercise, inhale and hold your breath (if it’s comfortable—but not if it makes you feel panicky) for 30 – 60 seconds to give the energy you’ve just woken up a chance to circulate.

Camel Ride
Hold on to your ankles with your hands. As you inhale, arch your spine forward. As you exhale, round it back in to a C-shape. Keep your chin level as you move. Move fluidly, with the breath, for one to two minutes.

Sufi’s Circle
Move your hands to your knees. This time, your chin leads the way as you make big circles with your spine. Move counterclockwise for a minute, then clockwise for a minute.

Spinal Twist
Bend your elbows and bring your fingertips to your shoulders (as if you were going to place an acorn on each shoulder simultaneously). Keep both sitting bones pressing evenly in to the floor and your hips and navel facing forward as you twist your upper torso, shoulders, neck, and head fluidly from the left to the right. Exhale as you twist and inhale as you come back through center and begin to turn toward to the other side—so your breath matches the pace of your movement. Continue for one to two minutes.

What are your morning moves?
How do you encourage your body (and/or your digestion) to wake up and get going? Leave a comment with your tip, and if I publish it in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you Barefoot Cardio, the new fitness DVD from mind-body fitness maven Ellen Barrett. I love her, and I love this latest DVD—it gets you sore in all the right places and helps you stand up straighter and feel lighter and more energized. That’s my kind of fitness!

Congrats to Stephanie!
I love the image she uses to inspire her to be her best. She won a copy of Zen Life: An Open-at-Random Book of Guidance. Here’s her comment:

“I keep my 13 year old’s second-grade picture on my desk. It can still bring me to tears: in this picture, she has the most open, optimistic, ‘here I am world’ smile on her face! It always refocuses my spirit, reminds me of what’s important in my life, and inspires me to be better.”

Take care and keep breathing,
Kate

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4 thoughts on “Jump-start Your Digestion, And Your Day

  1. I find that stepping outdoors onto my deck, even for a moment, really helps me to wake up and connect with my day. I breathe in the air, feel the temperature, notice the wind, the sky–all while in my bathrobe! It’s just a minute–especially in cold weather–but there is something so invigorating about those first in-breaths of morning air, the feeling of the day on my skin. Then, coffee!

  2. Nothing has better clarified the connection between movement and having a movement than living with my newly adopted dog, Benji. After my morning cup of tea, I take him for a long, vigorous walk and that gets him to relieve himself quickly and smoothly. By the time we return home, it’s my turn to go! Regular walking keeps me regular.

  3. This is a great post – thanks for sharing. I find it easy to focus on the strengthening moves in yoga and too easy to forget about the stretching moves. Thanks for this reminder.

  4. Nothing encourages my body to start the day like sipping some warm water with lemon and then practicing a series of light stretching immediately upon rising. And of course, my favorite pro biotic supplement before breakfast to enhance healthy digestion! 🙂

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