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According to Ayurveda, constipation is a very serious condition that can cause many physical and mental problems. Some call it the mother of all diseases. In any case of chronic constipation, one is advised to fundamentally deal with it, so that it really stays away and is not reduced to some bearable condition. As it relates to food, lifestyle and movement, to truly get rid of constipation means to make some profound changes to your life and stick to them.
In case the constipation problem is including Hemorrhoids or Piles, it becomes many times more serious. Use the treatment for hemorrhoids alongside the treatments of constipation below, otherwise no progress may be gained at all.
Lower back pains & a bloated feeling are most often also caused by constipation, even if people do not always realize that constipation is the underlying problem. If food does not move through our system sufficiently fast, taking longer than the healthy average of 24 hours, it starts to truly rot, which produces many gasses in the intestines. These produce the bloated feeling and are very often also the cause of the back pain, as blocked stool and gasses push against the spine.
Sometimes constipation and diarrhea may alternate, the latter being an attempt of the body to treat the former by flushing out the system. It is not advisable at this time to use medication to stop the diarrhea. Eating some yoghurt after diarrhea is very advisable, to repopulate the microorganisms in the intestines.
Except for the last part of the intestines near the anus, stool is usually not the main blocking factor, gasses are. Reducing gas production and improving gas elimination is the main task when dealing with constipation.
The main keys to treat constipation are to increase movement, to correct postures, to increase inner moisture, to reduce gas production and to calm down. How to deal with constipation is also somewhat personal, depending on many individual factors. The measures and treatments below may not have the same significance to everyone. Try them out and experience for yourself. Anyhow, none of these treatments are unhealthy.
THE SPICY SOUP TRICK
Cold bread meals are a major cause of digestion issues in modern society and not just because bread is constipating. Bread meals are usually too dry to easily move through the system and these meals usually are not spicy enough to sufficiently stimulate the acidity needed in the stomach. If you add some spicy soup to any bread meals, you probably will already experience quite a big change. Just try it for a few days. To my experience it is an easy solution that works well for most people.
POSTURE & MOVEMENT
Constipation rarely happens to people that move about a lot, even though it can still happen. Increasing movement in your life on a daily basis may be essential.
Especially walking helps by aiding gravity in making food stuffs move down. Walk for at least 10 minutes after every meal, at an average pace.
Even in case of lower back pains, often caused by digestion issues, one should take some walks regularly - the pain usually is reduced afterwards. Walk slowly though.
However, in the one or two hours after meals one should never bend over. If you need to pick up something from the floor, bend the knees instead.
After food, any pressure on the belly should be maximally avoided. Avoid wrong sitting postures that create such pressure - no slouching.
Never sleep within 2 to 3 hours after food. Sleeping stops the digestion process, which will create a lot more gasses.
Stay upright after food, maximally keeping a hollow lower back. One exception is if low digestive fire (gastric acid) is an issue and after food the left, lunar nostril is dominant : then it is advised to lie down on the left side for no more than 20 minutes after food to open the right, solar nostril - usually less than 5 minutes will do the trick.
Avoid tight fitting clothes or belts in the belly area.
A very good yoga posture for digestion to be used after food is the seated warrior pose (VAJRASANA).
If you need to lie down after food, lie on the left side only and preferably not for more than 20 minutes.
To avoid overeating is absolutely necessary in order not to create traffic jams in your system.
Double your intake of liquids, especially water.
Aside of what you are drinking, every meal should have sufficiently liquid foods like soups or things that are as liquid as for example pumpkin purée. In India, people have the good habit of eating soup with their meal rather than before and also know many rather liquid vegetable food recipes (Ras Sabji). Turning to liquid foods only is not a good idea, because it will too much reduce the digestive fire.
Avoid in between snacks so that your intestines may empty and clean themselves properly in between meals. Especially avoid dry and fried snacks such as chips. If you need some snack, eat fruits.
While fruits are generally helpful, avoid eating fruits after dark, as they will be very gas producing then. Avoid bananas altogether, as they are rather constipating.
Avoid eating most raw vegetables as they are very gas producing. Especially avoid raw onion, sprouts & cabbage. Vegetables that can be eaten raw are lettuce, cucumbre, tomato (peeled), most fresh herbs, radish,... Add them to every (dry) bread meal.
Avoid eating very spicy foods but also avoid eating food without some hot spices. They help to awaken the digestive fire and are especially needed with heavy foods.
While the meat diet usually needs more plant fibre, some vegetarian diets may also contain too much fibre, irritating the intestines.
Avoid old, canned or frozen foods as they are usually more gas producing.
Avoid drinking coffee or black tea within 30' before or after meals.
Smoking can be a major factor as it is drying the system. Complement it at least by strongly increasing the intake of liquids (take half a glass of water after every sigarette) and avoid smoking in the half hour before bowel movements (if they are regular).
The following remedies can be used to speed up the healing process. Please take into account that without also applying the above principles, these particular remedies are not going to stop the problem in the long run. They should generally not be used more than 40 days in a row.
Grated raw carrots are a very good remedy. Take two average carrots daily, which can be made into a kind of salad easily by mixing in some yoghurt (Raita). It can both be combined with fruits to make a sweet dish, or with some other mushy vegetables in a salty dish or side dish.
Prunes and figs are generally a very good remedy also. When using a dried form, they should be soaked in water a few hours before consuming them, or made into a stew.
Use the skim that forms on slowly boiling milk (Malai) : take two teaspoons with a dash of freshly ground black pepper each night before retiring.
Use Sat Isabgol, an indian remedy made of fleaseed husk : take one or two teaspoons in water or yoghurt before retiring. Do not overdose.
The Hing mentioned above can also be used as an actual remedy for pushing out excess gasses : do not overdose however as that may create more gasses - see description.
Another regulating and tasty remedy found in Indian shops is Chyawanprash.
Most of these remedies may create some discomfort in the beginning, as they push out gasses. Adapt the dosage if necessary to avoid creating too much stress in your digestive system.
Be attentive to the needs of your body at any time. Never postpone bowel movements and neither skip other natural bodily functions such as belching, burping, passing wind or urinating.
Keep the hollow lower back during defecation, do not bend over. Indian style and french style toilets are very good.
Another beneficial Indian habit is to clean the anus with water rather than toilet paper - especially avoid hard, irritating toilet paper.
While some pressure can be used during bowel movements, the main task is to relax. Never push too hard, which is a major cause of piles.
Sometimes it may help to make some blocked gas move by applying some pressure along the end of the spine : place middle and index finger each on one side of the spine, about 10 cm above the tailbone and press down hard along the spine a few times. Try a few times, but if that doesn't work, leave it.
Especially in case of piles, achieving a normal bowel movement may require many small bowel movements for a while. Never push hard in this case.
Often constipation also creates a cramped bladder - pay speciall attention to (again) not using pressure but rather relaxation and gravity to urinate.
ENERGY & STRESS
Apart of the many factors mentioned above, what also contributes to the problem is stress and a lack of vital energy.
Constipation causes stress and depletes energy, while stress and a lack of energy also aggravate constipation. It is a downward spiral. The one who understands this when faced with a serious constipation issue takes a holiday if possible or otherwise tries to maximally calm down using all means available. Nervous intestines is not a problem created by the intestines.
Sometimes constipation and piles are also related to a spiritual issue and especially if these problems persist for a long time, all physical measures will be more effective if also some spiritual healing is done, whether in person or long-distance.
Leela is the ancient vedic name for the theater of life. Life in all its forms is an illusion behind which we can find the ultimate truth of pure Being. Yet life is also a divine theater, a spiritual game played by us, the actors. Yoga allows us to hold on to the bliss of truth while playing the game. And also this yoga is a game, which we can only take seriously if we do not take ourselves and this game too seriously. That is the meaning of Leela Yoga, nothing more, nothing less.So, Leela Yoga is a vision on yoga and also a name for a simple organisation that allows me to bring this vision into practice... more about Leela Yoga & Peter Marchand