Thursday, 26 November 2015

Immunity Boost - healthy gut

Since I made my 'Winter Wellness Series' (please see the link to my YouTube Channel- new evidence has shown that the gut may play an important role in immunity: please see ,Medical News Today (MNT)- . 

We know that stress lowers immunity. We also know that it is possible that when your stress levels are high, your body switches from producing serotonin (the 'good mood' hormone) to producing the 'stress hormones' cortisol and adrenalin. But did you know that 90-95% of your body's serotonin is found in the gut? If your gut is healthy, that is the gut flora are in balance, then the production of serotonin is boosted. This has a beneficial effect in lowering stress. Yoga poses that keep the gut healthy should therefore also help boost the production of serotonin, which in turn lowers stress and boosts immunity.

The short sequence below will help boost the health of your gut

Start in Hero Pose (helps digestive health through optimal placement of the digestive organs) - start in a kneeling position, knees together, heels a little wider than hip distance. Taking hold of the fleshy part of the calves and moving it outwards, sit back between the heels. Make sure your second toe is pointing straight back. Join the first finger and thumb in a mudra and rest the backs of the hands on the thighs. If this does not feel right for your knees, place a block (or two) or cushions between your heels or a rolled up towel between your thighs and your calves.  Spend a few minutes here watching the breath then come onto all fours. Stretch the legs back one at a time, pressing through the heel, to restore circulation to the legs.

Cat/Cow (alternate stretching and compressing the abdomen assists peristalsis, the movement through the gut) - from an all 4s position, inhale lift the head and chest, exhale tuck the chin, arch your back.

Cobra (stretches abdomen stimulating peristalsis) - come into lying on your tummy and lengthen the spine by tucking your toes and pressing one heel back at a time. Bring your hands to armpit/chest level and your forehead to the mat. Breathe in and running your nose forward lift using your back muscles. If this feels comfortable, press into your hands for a deeper back bend, keeping your elbows soft. Exhale to lower and rock

Child Pose variation (stimulates peristalsis) - sit back on your heels, make fists with your hands and place your hands on your abdomen. Bring your forehead to the mat allowing your fists to exert a gentle pressure on your abdomen. Hold for several breaths then inhale lift your head and stretch your arms forward.  

Downward Facing Dog (uses the breath to massage the abdomen) - tuck your toes and as you breathe out, lift your hips high.  Hold for a few breaths.  With each breath in soften your abdomen, with each breath out, draw your abdomen back towards your spine. After several breaths, breathe in, drop your knees, breathe out, take your bottom back to your heels.

Garland Pose (enhances the elimination of waste) - inhale rock back on your heels, bringing your hands into prayer,elbows in your knee creases. To come out of the pose, bring your hands to the mat and start to straighten your legs. Breathe out, take your hands to your hips, breathe in and slowly come up. Stand in the centre of your mat.

Triangle (stretches the colon, stimulating peristalsis) - With your hands on your hips, step your feet  a leg length apart, outside edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of the mat. Turn the whole of the right leg to the right so that the knee and foot point the same way and turn the toes of the back foot in 45 degrees. The heel of your front foot should line up with the instep of your back foot. Inhale raise your arms to shoulder height, lift your chest. Breathe out, hinge from the hips and bring your right hand to your right leg, left arm up towards the ceiling. Gaze can be straight ahead or up at the left thumb, depending on your neck. Do not overreach in order to bring the lower arm further down your leg as this will affect the integrity of the pose, causing the top shoulder to come forward, and the chest to collapse. To release windmill the arms back to shoulder height as you come up, turn your feet to face forward, release your hands to your hips. Repeat 2nd side.

Revolved Triangle (increases circulation to the digestive organs, aids peristalsis, relieves constipation) - Place a block at the top of the mat. Stand towards the back of the mat, feet hip width apart, hands on hips. Turn the toes of the left foot out as if pointing to 10 to on a clock. Step the right foot forward and level the hips to the top of the mat. Inhale lift your chest, exhale come into a flat back position. Take your left hand to your block, adjusted so that it is inside your right big toe (remember a block has three levels. Breathe in and as you breathe out start to twist to the right. Once you have a good twist you may raise your right arm and if there are no neck issues, you may look up at the right thumb. To come out of the pose, take your right hand back to your hip, breathe in and come back to flat back position. Take your left hand to your hip and on your next breath in come up. Bend your front knee and step your feet together. Repeat 2nd side. Lie back on the mat.

Apanasana (realigns the spine after the twist, stimulates the ascending colon (when performed on the right side), the descending colon on the left side)) - lie with your legs outstretched.  Draw your right knee towards your chest, interlacing your fingers just below your kneecap and press the left heel away from you. If you have knee issues, hold the back of the thigh.  Hold for several breaths then release. Repeat 2nd side

Savasana (calms nervous system) - lie with your feet hip width, the little toe side of your foot releasing down towards the mat. If you have back issues you may place a rolled up blanket under your knees. Have your arms a little way from your body, palms facing up, fingers relaxed. Gently close your eyes and for several minutes simply watch the breath. When you are ready to continue with your day, take a few deep breaths and whatever movements you need to bring you back to the here and now. Before coming up, spend a few moments on your right side with your knees drawn up towards your chest.

Janet x

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