One of the best things you can do to improve your health, according to Ayurveda, is to have a bowel movement every morning. Why is regular elimination so important? What happens if you skip a morning, or wait until later? No big deal, right? On the contrary: having a bowel movement every morning impacts both your physical and psychological well being, and it makes a huge difference in how you feel throughout the day.
With a few simple, Ayurvedic measures, you can encourage your body’s natural urge to have a daily bowel movement each morning.
Why daily elimination is so important
Your body's clock naturally follows the cycles of nature—or tries to. During nighttime, soma (lunar energy) is more predominant, so your body focuses on lubrication, cooling, and nurturing. In the morning, when the sun rises, agni (solar energy/digestive fire) is predominant, and your body switches into a heating, active, absorbing, and transforming phase. If you’re still carrying around the waste material your body deposited into your colon at night, you may absorb some of that waste material into your system. That, in turn, can hamper your immunity.
In addition, carrying that extra “waste weight” around adds pressure to your lower abdomen, the seat of Apana Vata—the subdosha of Vata that governs elimination, sexual functions, and the menstrual cycle. You may also feel fatigued, drowsy, and irritable during the day.
The health benefits of a clean colon
When you’re in tune with nature’s rhythms, and your own, you’ll tend to have at least one bowel movement per day. Don't ignore your urges, and don't wait!
The benefits of a clean, light colon include:
- Clearer skin
- More energy and vitality
- Better digestion and assimilation
- Better balance to Vata dosha
If you don't have a bowel movement every day on a regular basis, you are probably constipated. Constipation can be a result of several diet or lifestyle factors such as lack of enzymes and beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal system, not eating enough fiber, dehydration, stress, and ignoring one's natural urges.
Ayurvedic tips for staying regular
Start your day with a glass of water
Upon waking, drink a room-temperature, or warm, glass of water to stimulate your body’s natural daily detox.
Eat a healthy, organic diet
Healthy elimination doesn’t start in your colon—your entire digestive system has to work in balance. Increase your update of natural, water-soluble fiber in your diet by consuming whole grains (like quinoa), and plenty of cooked veggies (especially squash) and fresh fruits. Avoid canned, frozen and "fast" food, and leftovers. Cook some prunes or figs with apples and eat the mixture in the morning.
Try herbs for daily detox
Sometimes, your body just needs a little assistance to get back on track! For natural relief for occasional constipation, try Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) or Herbal Cleanse.
Give your gut bacteria some love
Support your assimilation and absorption by encouraging friendly bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. The best way to do this is to drink lassi (a probiotic beverage) or Ayurvedic buttermilk with lunch.
Rev up your digestion with spices
Spices can work wonders at enhancing your body’s secretion of enzymes to rev up your digestion.
Drink at least two quarts of water per day to keep things moving.
Eat three meals a day
Have your biggest meal at noon when your agni is strongest. Eat according to your mind-body type and don't skip meals. Have a light, nourishing dinner (ideally before 7 p.m., so you can give your digestion a break at night).
Eat in peace
Try to avoid eating in a hurry, while talking on the phone, riding in a car, while watching TV, or when you are upset. Chew well and focus on eating. Eat in a nice, settled environment, in a good atmosphere with friends or family.
Emotional balance is important, too
Did you know that your emotions can directly influence bowel movements? Constipation can sometimes come from excess worry, just as diarrhea can be induced by anxiousness. Apana Vata (which governs elimination, as mentioned earlier in this article) also has a direct link to Prana Vata, the subdosha that governs your thoughts.
Ever feel relaxed after a good bowel movement? This connection explains why! Bowel movements are not just a physical function. If anything disturbs your Prana Vata—including mental or emotional stress—your elimination can suffer, too. Here are some additional tips for keeping your mind at peace to promote better elimination:
Keep magazines out of the bathroom
It’s tempting, but try not to read while sitting on the toilet. Any mental activity will occupy Prana Vata, disconnecting it from Apana Vata. Keep your mind free so that Prana Vata can aid in your natural elimination.
Take a post-dinner stroll
Take a walk after dinner to unclog the channels of Apana Vata and to improve digestion. Regular exercise also helps to reduce stress—and keepings things moving, too!
There are many different ways to relax your mind and body throughout the day, including the Transcendental Meditation®
Since healthy bowel movements affect your entire physiology, it’s better not to put them off when the urge arises. Get in tune with your body's internal clock and make regular elimination a part of your daily routine!
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