Apana Mudra Helps Kids Poop
Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 3:08 PM
Healthy digestion is the foundation of good health. According to Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, disease begins in the digestive system. Having good elimination habits is important for all of us, young and old.
When working as a yoga therapist at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, most of the young patients I saw had some issue with elimination – oftentimes it was constipation. All systems of the body are intricately interrelated and blockage in one area shows up as blockage in other areas – including mental and emotional blockages.
Last week, I was in the home of a brother and sister who I see a couple of times a month. The older brother has some sensory issues and the sister just loves yoga so she also participates. Toward the end of our session, we were practicing some mudras. The brother, who tends toward hand flapping when over-stimulated, especially enjoys these yoga hand gestures. I’ve taught him to use them throughout his day as a way to engage his hands more adaptively.
I was showing them apana mudra. The palms are placed face up on the knees and the middle two fingers press against the thumb. The index and little finger are extended. “Apana” is the downward energy in the body that facilitates – and governs – elimination. This mudra also tends to be soothing and calming.
The moment I said, “I’m going to teach you apana mudra – it helps you poop.” The sister exclaimed, “Oh, good! I have a hard time pooping.” We practiced the mudra for a few moments before she jumped up and said, “Oh, wait. I’ll be right back.” and ran off to the bathroom. With the door left open I could hear her dramatic play-by-play of the event before she ran back out exclaiming, “It worked!”
I then showed them apanasana, the yoga posture that helps you poop. Notice the same root word “apana” referring to that same eliminative force in the body. This one is also called “fart pose.” Just telling it like it is.
Apanasana, or “Wind Releasing Pose”, is done on the back. Hug the right knee into the chest with the left leg extended straight along the floor. Exhale as the knee is hugged into the chest. Inhale and change sides. Exhale as the left knee hugs into the chest. Back and forth like this several times. It is important to start with the right knee into the chest as this is the direction of the large intestine. Waste travels up the right side, across the top (transverse colon) and down the left. This physical action facilitates elimination in this way. Movement in general keeps the bowels moving.
Abdominal massage also helps. Simply trace this path on the tummy, drawing a big circle in the direction of a clock – up the right, across the top (just below the ribs) and down the left. Start in toward the belly button and gradually widen the circle each round until you are on the outer edges of the abdomen. Kids can learn to do this for themselves.
Before you reach for the laxative, try these simple steps to support healthy elimination.