How to improve digestion is easy, I’ll teach you today with this one yoga pose.
Biohacking is annoyingly trendy these days. But it invites us to believe that life can shift in an instant. Sometimes, the superior solution in a snare is simple. Swift. Sly.
I have emphasized that transformation through yoga requires patience. But yoga is also dynamic in its offerings and defiant of limitations. We can use elements of this multidimensional practice to hack our bodies, minds and spirits to transmute how we feel in mere moments.
Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
One of my yoga students was preparing to undergo surgery as a last attempt to resolve severe digestive issues that had tortured her for years. She often could not go to the bathroom for days, leading to chronic physical and emotional pain.
Her doctors had exhausted all of their tools – diets, medications, supplements, colonics. These attempts temporarily improved digestion and regularity. But, every time, the blockages returned and intensified in pain. The doctors resolved that they would have to operate.
How to Improve Digestion
Days before her surgery, she explored one final option: yoga.
When the student consulted me for help as her yoga teacher, I offered her a biostack – a combination of hacks to create a synergistic recipe for increased effectiveness. I walked her through a few rounds of a breathing and cleansing practice called agni sara, some gentle supine twists, and a light version of a pose called mayurasana.
Twenty minutes later, everything started moving. Three days later, her intestinal pain vanished. Four days later, her dumbfounded doctors canceled her surgery. One week later, her husband concluded that she was, as he always had suspected, full of shit.
The yogic biostack gave her the release that she needed to feel light, healthy and functional – physically and emotionally. As her digestion improved, her frustration and hopelessness from years of physical pain also dissipated.
Sometimes, all we need is a glimpse of how things can be to know that everything is going to be OK. It opens the door to what is possible and expands our imagination of how amazing our reality can be.
That moment of limitlessness is the power of a biohack.
Yoga is The Ultimate Biohack
Scientists, health gurus and bloggers are hunting for ways to improve memory, performance and even gene expression through all sorts of hacks. Some of them are effective. Others are laughable. But they all have one thing in common: their desire to make life easier and more enjoyable.
But I never had thought of yoga as a biohack until a student tagged it this last week while we were discussing using yoga as a prescription. His observation lit up my mind like a firework. I replied without thinking: Yoga is the ultimate biohack. That is what it is at its core!
Mind blown. Yogi brains everywhere.
We are using poses and techniques to shift our energy, minds and, ultimately, our lives. Yoga can provide most of the hacks that we need inexpensively, quickly and potently.
Last week, I offered 10 suggestions to clean up yourself to clean up your relationship to the world. This week, I offer you one of yoga’s original biohacks for blasting through physical, mental and spiritual blockages.
The (not so) Secret Pose
I have seen only one instructor teach it in public class. Today, I share the secret of this digestive dynamite with you: mayurasana.
Why? Because your ability to digest and to release food, emotions and energy from your system is paramount to living healthfully and happily.
Most people are not able to perform the variation shown in the link above. More important than the details of the shape is the way that the practitioner, B.K.S. Iyengar, presses all of his weight onto his elbows so that they drive into his intestines.
Let’s call this pose exactly what it is: a physical manipulation of the bowels and chakras – a manual enema.
The heat that mayurasana can create has the power to burn up a lot of shit. It carries the ability to force stagnant energy, emotions and food out of your intestines. The resulting digestion can be transformational on any of those planes.
I use mayurasana when I feel bloated or stuck – in any aspect of my life. It leaves me feeling lighter, freer, more open and more able to receive.
Here is how to explore mayurasana lightly to see whether it can brighten you:
- Do not eat for one to two hours.
- Identify what you want to release: Do you want to ease your physical digestion? Are you ready to let go of a negative thought or feeling? Set that as your intention.
- Kneel on your shins. If this is uncomfortable, place a pillow under your thighs.
- Reach your arms straight out, close your fists and face your palms downward.
- Turn your fists toward your abdomen and nuzzle them under your rib cage.
- Lean forward and rest your weight onto your fists to push your intestines inward.
- Close your eyes and stay for one to three minutes. Do your best to relax and to breathe into any discomfort.
- When you feel that you are done, slowly sit up and open your eyes to reorient yourself.
- Reclose your eyes and feel. What do you notice? What is different? Take time to assimilate the experience in your body, mind and spirit.
- Use the restroom if needed.
Repeat whenever you feel stuck. One year later, my student’s digestion is still working fine thanks to this pose. Whenever it slows, I remind her of her yoga biostack.
Using mayurasana can be a profound experience. It also might not be. Explore for yourself to discover whether it empowers you to feel cleaner afterward.
Given the potency of this biohack, tread lightly at first. Notice how mayurasana affects you before diving too deeply into it.
As you gain mastery, you can go deeper to intensify the pose’s potency. Biohacks can be effective in the moment. Still, as with most tools, evolving your relationship with them over time will strengthen your ability to wield them.
For example, I shared the benefits that my student received from mayurasana with another student whom I have been teaching and coaching for over 3 years. After incorporating mayurasana into her practice for two days, this student had an epiphany that empowered her to process mysterious emotional pain that had dug itself inside of her eight years ago.
By the third day of practicing mayurasana, she uprooted the pain and solved her mystery. Given the foundation that we have created for her over a period of years, she was able to advance in just 72 hours from emailing me that her eyes were swollen shut from sobbing over the pain to emailing me that she had found the clarity, healing and peace that she had resolved would be years away.
As you become more sensitive to mayurasana’s cleansing effects, you even can use it to prevent blockages so that you do not need to lug them around for days, months, years, decades and lifetimes.
As you empower yourself to become your own best doctor with practices such as mayurasana, you can digest life more easily. As you increase your capacity to digest, you can increase your capacity to take in everything that this world has to offer you.
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue
Nick Palladino-King teaches students and clients how to reduce stress, to increase happiness and to elevate health through yoga, wellness coaching and strength training.