Is Bad Digestion Keeping You Awake?

Did you know that bad digestion issues can considerably affect the quality of our night naps and compromise everyday life? Well, it's a very serious matter not to overlook, for the good of our health. Healing Holidays' guest blogger Anandi The Sleep Guru, who recently held a successful Surrendered Breath workshop in London, tells us why and shares some valuable suggestions on how to use breathing as a powerful tool to get over it, in order to improve the health of mind and body. 

As we know stress can be a killer. Step by step, constantly being in the fight or flight response gradually takes its toll on your system, in particular the digestive system.  If you are going to bed with indigestion, you certainly won’t sleep very well.

The fight or flight response is your body’s aggressive response to stress.  When you are stressed, one of the things that happens is that your breathing becomes shallow and the activities of your digestion slow down as the body is too busy reacting to a stressful situation. Most people think of the breath as one force, but the ancient yogis saw the breath differently. They found that the force of the breath, they called vayu, had five internal (and five external) directional forces.  Each vayu being responsible for driving certain systems in the body.  The internal forces are as follows:

PRANA is known as the ‘forward moving air’ and moves inwards. It is the force that governs everything that comes into your body and provides the driving force in our lives.

SAMANA is the ‘balancing air’ and moves from the periphery to the centre. It is the energy that processes and digests on all levels.

VYANA is the ‘outward moving air’ moving from the centre outwards. It is the energy that keeps everything moving including emotions and thoughts.

APANA is the ‘air that moves away’ and moves downwards and out. It allows you to let go of the negative and toxic.

UDANA is the creative force that allows you to express yourself in the world.

In particular, in terms of improving digestion, we are looking at Samana and Apana.  Imagine improving samana like stoking the internal fire and apana like improving your ability to detoxify and eliminate, both vital forces in the process of digestion.
If you learn to breath properly, you will be activating all of the five forces, although there are particular exercise for each vayu, you need to start by getting back in touch with a deeper more profound breath.  

Breathing Exercise

Try this exercise in the morning and evening:

Find a quite place and lay on your back, knees bent or a cushion under your knees to keep the pressure off your back.

Set a timer for 2 x 10 minute intervals (if you have an iPhone the Insight Timer app is excellent)

First 10 minutes
Just start following your breath, don’t try and do anything, just take long deep breaths and let go on the out breath.  Feel free to make a sound on the out breath.  If your mind wanders, keep coming back to the breath.  Continue for 10 minutes.

Second 10 minutes
Observe the pause between the in and out breath and lengthen it slightly.  Make sure it does not involve any forcing at all.  Surrender the whole body during the pause as though your body is melting and allow the breath to enter the body.  Imagine the nose is not involved and your whole body is filling. On the exhale let go, let go, let go. Continue for 10 minutes.

Before you reach for the Rennie, get back in touch with the breath!

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