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• The digestive system is responsible for the breakdown of food into energy and other nutrients that the human body needs for optimal performance.
• The system consists of organs and glands beginning at the mouth (oral cavity) and ending at the anus for expelling the solid waste products of the digestive processes.
• Physical digestion begins in the mouth and is further broken down in the stomach. The small intestine further processes the food. The large intestine is mainly responsible for absorption of the micronutrients, water and other components.
• Enzymes produced by the glands and cells of the digestive organs assist in the processes – saliva, acids, digestive juices and enzymes.
• Hormones are also responsible for maintaining homeostasis – especially sugar balance, which is controlled by insulin and glucagon produced by the pancreas.
• The liver is the organ responsible for detoxification. It also contributes towards the digestion of fats.
• Optimal digestion enhances proper uptake of dietary nutrients.
• Ayurveda refers to the concept of a strong agni (digestive fire) for digestion, to produce ojas (elixir of life). A weak agni results in the accumulation of ama (toxicity) that leads to illness and disease.
• Yoga and yogic practices massage the internal organs and improve blood circulation to and from the digestive organs.
• Various practices can improve common digestive complaints including indigestion, constipation, acidity, gas troubles and flatulence and even enhance appetite. Emotionally-linked digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome may also find relief.
• Asanas for the digestive include twisting asanas, Pavan Muktasana Series, Surya Namaskar, Vajrasana, Dhanurasana, Ushtrasana
• Pranayama – Bhastrika, Kapalabhati, Agnisar Pranayama (but should be avoided in case of ulcers, recent abdominal surgery, high blood pressure)
• Pratyahara and meditation soothes the body, reducing stress and improving body functions.
• Shatkarmas of vamana dhouti, Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana should be done only on the guidance of an experienced yoga instructor.
• A good nutrition and eating program would include mindful eating, eating when hungry, and in a calm and peaceful environment.
• The practitioners need to be encouraged to seek medical advice for any serious concerns and before embarking on any protocols. The yoga practices recommended are not a replacement for medical treatment.

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The principles laid out in Patanjali’s yoga sutras dating back to 500 B.C. are still very relevant today, even in our modern information world. Yoga has evolved a lot from the days of Patanjali; it has taken different forms to meet the varying needs of practitioners all along its journey. Yoga continues to accept all changes, like the ocean accepts the river, absorbs, assimilates and grows. (A distinctive feature of sanaatan dharma of India)

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