The many benefits of abdominal self-massage, going for walk or maybe even doing mayurasana:
The ability to relax the abdomen and especially the sides of the abdomen reflects a very healthy regular practice of abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing directly stimulates the immune system. One of the best places to learn diaphragmatic breathing is any of the variations of mayurasana (such as that shown in the video). In the mayurasana you see me doing I have maintained a very soft abdomen and that is exactly where I am breathing from. The pressure from my elbows and my diaphragm on inhalation directly stimulates the internal body systems, especially the immune system, the digestive system and the reproductive system.
You don’t need to learn a difficult posture like the one I am doing in this photo to get these effects. A similar effect that can be just as powerful can be done by an abdominal self-massage, or by doing a brisk but relaxed walk for about thirty minutes every day.
But the trick is you have to move your hips and shoulders freely with the spine and you must breathe into your abdomen. In this situation the spine massages the internal organs and the abdominal breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and gives reflex relaxation of the muscles around the lower trunk thus freeing up the spine. As excess trunk muscle tension is relieved with diaphragmatic breathing and the circulation of blood can also increase significantly without breath rate or even heart rate increasing.
When minimal and diaphragmatic breathing is combined with postures that physically put pressure on the organs and/or acupuncture meridians related to the immune system and the digestive system, then the combination not only enhances immune system function but also increases your digestive function. Hence food becomes more easily assimilated, and elimination of waste is more effective. Therefore you can eat less because food will satisfy you more easily.
The effect of learning how to breathe less than normal (hypoventilation) creates a mild internal acidity that makes one tend to choose food that is more alkalising in the blood. Alkalising foods include most fruit vegetables and salad, namely all the foods that have been shown to positively affect the health of the immune system.
Hence, how you practice yoga does not simply affect the health of your internal organs but actually changes your desire for food. As you get more comfortable creating a mild respiratory acidity by breathing less air per minute (the ultimate aim of pranayama), you begin to tend to choose healthier more alkaline food, and not crave less healthy acidic foods which are often processed and can negatively affect the immune system and your health in general.
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