This is a strategy from Ancient India. Myth has it that yogis who mastered this gut strengthening exercise were able to digest rocks. Perhaps there is some truth to the story because this exercise certainly gives your intestines a workout. If you suffer from digestion this should help with peristalsis — the natural pumping motion of your colon. In essence, you are priming the pump! The exercise feels a little strange at first as it involves you moving your internal organs around. It sure does “wake up” your entire gastro–intestinal tract.
Why It Works
Most people don’t realize that our colon is actually a muscle. A very long, thin and hollow muscle. And like any muscle it needs exercise. Of course, simply eating food puts it to work. But the Stomach Vacuum exercise is sort of like taking your gut to the gym and making it lift weights. It really builds up the strength of the colon. It also helps remove excess gas from the stomach. You may find you burp when doing this exercise. But better it come out your mouth then make a disruptive journey through all 25 feet of your intestine.
How To Do It
- Place your feet shoulder–width apart.
- Place your hands, palms down, fingers pointing towards the ground, on your upper thighs.
- Bend forward slightly.
- Inhale deeply, right down into your belly, filling your lungs and diaphragm as much as possible.
- Exhale completely. Your lungs should be completely empty. This has freed up room in your chest cavity (essentially creating a vacuum).
- Using your stomach muscles, pull your lower abdomen upward.
- Then press down with your lower abdomen.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 as many times as feels comfortable without breathing.
- Inhale and repeat the whole process two more times.
Warning: Either do the exercise before a meal or wait two hours after eating before you
practice this exercise — otherwise you might create a bit of heartburn.
When to Practice
The easiest time to practice this exercise is right before eating. It will help “wake up” your stomach and get it ready for food. You may simply make a point of doing this exercise when you go to wash your hands before eating. In the privacy of a bathroom or a stall, no will see what you are doing. Once you know what you’re doing, you can also practice the exercise sitting down in a chair. With practice you should find it easy enough. You can do it at a restaurant table or in an airplane seat without anybody noticing.
Keep in mind that like any exercise, it takes repetition to build up the muscle. If you feel your gut is really out of shape, you may want to spend 5 or 10 minutes in the morning, before breakfast, repeating this exercise over and over again. The exercise, thanks to the deep inhaling and exhaling, can also have a calming and de–stressing affect on the body.
Questions and Answers
It hurts when I do the exercise — what should I do?
Make sure you keep your mouth open when you do the exercise. You may have gas that needs to come out. Don’t forget, you are using stomach muscles to move your intestines. So, just like any unused muscle it may hurt a bit at first.
Start with once a day. Try doing the exercise first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything and see how you feel. Then you can practice the Stomach Vacuum exercise before each meal you eat. If you feel there is a painful blockage in your intestine while doing this exercise, please check with your doctor.