Twenty Minuet flow designed for digestive health and IBD
Centering before you begin:
Sit on the ground, pillow or block, in a position that is comfortable for you. Pull the flesh back and away from your sit bones, close your eyes and breath. Clear your mind and feel your body, your breath, and see how the two interact with each other. Feel supported by the earth underneath you, begin to breath threw your nose. Inhale feeling your lungs fill up from the bottom, the middle and finally the top. Exhale in the same slow way. Slightly contract the muscles on the back of your throat causing an ocean like sound to accompany your breath. Begin a slight contraction in your lower abs, slightly curving your tail bone under and straightening your spine. (Always remember to try and keep the spine straight thew out an asana practice, and keep these lower abs contracted to protect the lower back)
Set an intention for your practice, one for yourself and one for something outside yourself. Think of a person, place or event that could use some extra healing, and on your next exhale feel that energy going there and helping.
Warmups, gently waking up the spine with the six movements:
Now begin moving when your body tells you removing any props you may be sitting on, when you feel ready. Inhale and slowly lift your arms over you head, exhale and slightly tip your hands to the right, stay here for three breaths. Inhale back to center and repeat on the left. Feel your side body slowly opening up, breath into any tightness you may feel.
Next, as you exhale, fold forward, stopping when it hurts. Keep in mind our first forward fold of the day is often very tight, especially if you practice first thing in the morning. Let go of any expectations that you may have for yourself in any asana, every moment is new. Breath in your forward fold, and stay here for three breaths, on your next inhale come back up.
Inhale your hands overhead, then as you exhale swing your back behind you. Inhale one more time and as you exhale slowly ease into a back bend. Only go as far as you feel comfortable, and stay for three breaths. Inhale and slowly come back up.
Come back to center, take a free inhale and exhale. Moving into twists, keep in mind that if you begin by twisting to the right you will help constipation, to the left will help diarrhea. Move according to your symptoms. Keep this in mind for the practice and start on the left. Whichever side you need to start with, inhale that arm up over head, and exhale it behind you close to your spine almost like a kickstand for support with your back. Place your other arm on the knee of the side you will twist to, inhale lengthen the spin, exhale twist from the abdomen as far as you feel comfortable. Stay here for three breaths. Inhale come back to center, and repeat on the other side.
The practice (if you do not feel warmed up yet, keep working on the six movements)
A few notes on asana with IBD or digestion poses: keep the twisting light, be weary of deep forward folding, knees to the chest, and doing a lot of seated postures. These things tend to sped things up digestion, and there for should be explored slowly, and with lots of causation. That being said I have found that too many standing poses tend to leave me feeling too energized and ‘flaky’, so I get bursts of energy and run around from thing to thing without really accomplishing anything. If your finding that seated poses are causing you lots of problems, try longer centering before and after practice, or lay in Savasana for a longer period of time to calm the energy down a bit.
(Tadasana, mountain pose) Start standing, with the outside edges of your feet parallel, hands in prayer at your heart center. Close your eyes and breath. Lift up your toes and feel the support of the earth under your feet. Tip slightly front, back and side to side, notice that you will not fall. Put your toes back on the earth, breath and reconnect with your intention.
Inhale, lifting your arms over head. Exhale, folding forward and bending at the hips. Inhale lengthening the spine, exhale returning to the full forward fold and grounding your hands on the earth. Step back with your right foot then your left to an expression of downward facing dog. Hands shoulder distance apart, arms outstretched, shoulders melting away from the ears. Feet hip distance apart, with a slight bed in the knees, and the heals inching towards the ground. Spine straight and the lower abdomen slightly contracted. Breath here for a few, then when you are ready exhale, and step the right foot forward between the hands, then the left. Inhale lengthen the spine, exhale release then inhale coming all the way back up. Exhale your hands back the prayer at your heart. Repeat until you feel warm, alternating the right and left foot steeping back.
Virabhadrasana I & II, Warrior poses I & II; Start in Tadasana pose, feel grounded and take in a large inhale. Exhale stepping your right foot back, about the length of your torso, slightly to the side of your left foot. Turn your right foot out, so it is perpendicular to your left, and point your left in front of you. Exhale bending your left knee to a close 90 degree angle, without your knee going beyond your toes. Inhale your hands over head, maybe binding them in a prayer pose maybe not, and slightly turn your hips to square to the front of the room. Check your self and make sure your contracting, your spine is straight and lengthened, feel your feet grounded supporting you on the ground. Gaze straight in front of you, looking at a single point. After five breaths,, inhale bringing yourself back to center. Turn your left foot out, and turn your right foot to be pointed behind you and repeat on the other side.
Inhale come back to center, and come back into Virbhadrasana I on with your left foot. Exhale your hands to your heart, inhale open them up (so that one is in front of you and one behind you. Square your hips to the right side of the room, and turn your head to the front of the room. Check yourself for your contractions, and your posture. Breath here for five breaths, then switch to the other side.
Exhale and come back to Tadasana.
Trikonasana and Parvritta Trikonasana, triangle and revolved triangle (These may require the use of a block, or prop for you hands have it ready before going into the pose); Exhale, and set up your stance as if you were going to do Virabhadrasana. Turn your left foot to point to the front of the room, and your right foot out. Square your hips to the right side of the room, inhale lengthening your spine. As you exhale reach to the front of the room with your left hand as far as you can, then begin to come down. Rest your left hand on a block, your shin, ankle, foot, or ground, what ever feels best. Inhale your right arm up so that there is a straight line from the tips of your right hand to the tips of your left, and if it feels good, turn your head to look at the ceiling. Check your self, your contractions, your spine and your breath. Make sure to breath! Stay here for five breaths, then switch sides.
Come back into Trikonasan on your left side. Exhale your right hand down and ground it on a prop, your shin, ankle, foot, or the ground. Inhale your left hand up, and if it would feel good, turn your gaze skyward. This slight twisting will help regulate digestion, because it is not too intense. Check yourself, your breath, contractions and your spine. After five breaths, exhale and look towards the ground, then inhale and windmill yourself back up. Switch sides.
Ustrasana, camel pose; Come back to Tadasana. Exhale and come down on your knees with them hip distance apart (if your knees do not agree with the hard floor, use a pillow underneath them without compromising the line of energy from the top of your head to your knees), with your thighs perpendicular to the earth. Place your hands on your lower back with your fingers pointed to the earth. Inhale lengthen your spine, then as you exhale slowly bend backwards, as far as feels good. Make sure that your shoulders are staying down and back, your contracting your lower abdomen, and you are breathing. Stay here for five to eight breaths, then inhale and come back up. Repeat three times, breathing into the tight spots. This pose helps stretch the abdomen and strengthens the muscles.
Sarvangasana, shoulder stand; Inversions are great for releasing tension on the digestion track that gravity causes, however if you do not feel right about doing an inversion there will be a modification at the end which promotes the same benefits. When you are done with Ustrasana, lay down on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent, and arms parallel to your sides and hands flat and open on with palms on the earth. As you exhale contract your lower abdomen, flattening your back to the earth, inhale and bring your legs up to form a 90 degree angle with your torso. You can stop here, if this feels right. (Staying here for a few breaths will help you build up the strength for the full expression) Exhale your feet behind your head keeping your legs straight and curving your back slightly. Inhale your feet up over head, and creating a base with your shoulders supporting the rest of your body. Stay here as long as you want, but never turn the neck to the side, keep it straight and your gaze on your feet. When you are ready to come out, exhale your feet back behind your head, then slowly, vertebra by vertebra roll back down to laying position.
Alternatively, come to a wall and place your right hip as close as you can get, swing your legs up the wall, it should feel as if you are sitting on the wall with your back flat on the floor. Start with your hands parallel to your body, inhale your lower back up off the earth, and slide a block, or solid prop underneath, avoiding setting it on the lower curve of the spine. This slight inversion, legs up the wall, will give you the full benefits of Sarvangasana, if this is where your are, this is a beautiful place to be.
Matsyasana, fish pose; to balance Sarvangasana, there is Matsyasana, which if you practice one it is imperative to finish the flow, and balance out the body. While you are laying on your back, snuggle your arms into your body parallel. Inhale pressing down with your forearms, and lift your chest, exhale tip your head back and rest your crown on the earth. Stay here five breaths, then inhale lifting your chest, then exhale release back down to laying down.
Twist; finally to bring the body into full balance and be ready for Savasana we have to twist and ‘reset’ the spine. Exhale bringing your knees into your chest and opening your arms to each side. Depending on your symptoms, exhale your knees to either the right or the left. Then if possible, turn your head in the opposite direction. Stay here for five breaths, inhale back to center then switch sides.
Savasana, resting pose; Inhale back to center, and release your feet to each corner of your mat, or hip distance apart. Bring your arms along your body with space between them and your torso, with palms up and shoulders rolled slightly back. Here you want to be comfortable, use a pillow under the knees, or your head, lay a blanket on top of you, do whatever would feel nice. Take in a big inhale threw your mouth, then exhale letting out a little sigh. Close your eyes and return to your normal breathing. Let go.