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According to Ayurveda, gas, and constipation are signs of disturbed vata and low agni. Vata, meaning “wind,” governs our body’s internal and external motion. Agni, or “digestive fire,” transforms what we eat into the nutrients the body can assimilate and transform into energy. Certain foods, cold or dry weather, or disruptions to your schedule can upset both, resulting in slow digestion and stagnation in the digestive tract. For mild constipation or gas, follow these guidelines to calm your vata and stabilize your agni.
Balance vata’s cool, rough dryness with moist, warm meals of freshly cooked whole foods. Avoid cold, dry, fried, and processed foods. And eat moderate amounts at regular mealtimes even if you don’t feel hungry.
Stoke your agni by adding a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) and some warming spices such as ginger, cumin, or cinnamon to your meals.
Traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulas such as hingwashtak, avipattikar, and trikatu are effective agni boosters when taken in powder form added to warm water.
Warm lemonade alleviates the tissue dryness associated with constipation and gas. Upon waking, stir the juice of one-quarter lemon into a large mug of warm water, along with a teaspoon of raw, unprocessed honey.
Triphala is a traditional combination of three dried fruits, in powder form, that acts as a mild laxative for some. Mainly, though, it’s a tonic that detoxifies the colon and improves its ability to absorb the subtle life force, or prana, from digested food before waste is eliminated.
Forward bends and twists compress the lower abdomen to release gas. They also relieve tension that can disrupt peristalsis, says Jillian Pransky, director of restorative yoga teacher training for YogaWorks, who suggests the following poses:
Balasana (Child’s Pose), supported
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), supported
Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose), supported
Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)
Pavanamuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose)