Digestive ailments are extremely common throughout the world. There are very few of us who have not suffered from a stomach or abdominal problem at least once in our lives. Yoga has much to offer in preventing or removing these types of ailments. Therefore this entire topic is devoted to the most common digestive ailments and how one can gain relief through yoga practices.
Many writers insist that the digestive system is the source of nearly all other diseases. Their reasoning is that many of the diseases and minor ailments which inflict our body are caused by autopoisoning. In other words, toxins enter the body via the digestive system from bad or dirty food or because of the buildup of waste products in the bowels which are reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Actually, we don’t want to delve too deeply into this subject at this stage, but we would like to point out that in our opinion it is the mind that has the largest part to play in all types of diseases. One should remember, however, that the mind and body are intimately related, so that mistreatment of one will automatically lead to repercussions on the other. That is, if one has mental conflicts then these will reflect in one way or another within the body, possibly in the digestive system. Or to put the same idea in other words: mental problems, whether small or large, tend to weaken the body; under these circumstances the body loses its natural resistance to infection, and disease can result. On the other hand, it is possible to quote various instances where disease definitely does originate from the digestive system. For example, if one accidentally eats contaminated food then it is very difficult to assign the cause to the mind. The cause clearly lies in poisoning of the digestive system. At the same time, however, it must be remembered that the digestive system would be less vulnerable to infection if it is in the best possible health. Mental conflicts detract from this. Of course there is a limit to this resistance. If you ate half a kilogram of cyanide it is highly unlikely that you would survive even if you were totally without mental problems. This dispute has to be approached sensibly without dogmatic assertion to support either view. The mind-body complex is an integrated unit. Each affects the other. Therefore all diseases are caused by various factors which can originate within the mind or the body It is the same with digestive ailments – they can be caused by both mental and physical reasons though more likely a combination will be nearest the truth.
Yoga can offer much in the way of removing and preventing digestive disorders. There are many yogic techniques that clean out the digestive system, such as kunjal kriya, and there are others which will be discussed later in the book. Many digestive ailments, such as ulcers and constipation, are caused mainly by nervous tension or worries. Yoga practices in general aim at calming the mind and removing the conflict. In this way, many of these types of ailments fade away through the practice of yoga. Let us briefly discuss the most common digestive ailments and how yoga can help to remove them.