We’ve all been there! You carefully selected an outfit a week before the party but at the last minute it seems to have magically shrunk two sizes and weirdly enough, just around the waistline.
No, it is not a black magic spell on your wardrobe, it is abdominal gas! Or in terms of ayurveda, the ancient Indian health method, your air element Vatta is going crazy.
Unfortunately that is the trade-off for all those beautifully coloured leaves outside. The dry, windy and cooler autumn days mean it also gets windier (gassier) inside your body and that can blow out your digestive fire, leaving unruly and smelly air or even constipation when it gets too dry inside.
One solution might be to fly to the southern hemisphere and celebrate Christmas in summer. Fortunately, here are some cheaper homemade remedies to pacify your Vatta and bring your digestive fire (Agni) back on track.
Warm up 1/3 cup of castor oil, or raw coconut oil if that is all you have, and massage your abdomen and middle back in circular motions for 5 -10 minutes.
Wrap a towel around your waistline and lie flat on your back for a 30-minute nap, using a hot water bottle over your belly. Moisture and warmth are the opposites of a wintery climate and will help soothe you and give you flatter stomach.
Make your environment more relaxing with an aromatherapy candle and avoid your phone to keep yourself in the moment – air is disturbed by stressful thinking, which explains why your digestive tract gets upset with mental stress. Shower the oil off with without soap or ideally leave the treatment overnight -not on party night of course.
The effect stays with you for 24-36 hours. If you are using coconut oil, you can also massage your whole body from head to toes, but it needs to be showered off after 30 minutes.
Avoid gulping down large quantities of cold water, which will only exacerbate your body’s wintery feeling and put out the fires of your digestive system. Get into the habit between meals of sipping warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons a day).
Citric and astringent flavours will fuel up your digestive fire and burn off excess air in your digestive tract. This is also a quick fix if you are experiencing acidity or you can feel yourself bloating up after a meal. I get the restaurant to bring me a whole lemon to make sure it is fresh, then chop it and squeeze the juice at the table.
You can also try mixing two or three tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar (with that fuzzy thing at the bottom of the bottle that looks like it has gone bad) into a glass of water and sipping it 10-15 minutes before big meals.
That will promote the flow of gastric enzymes, leaving fewer undigested pieces for the bad, gas-producing bacteria to feed on. It is also packed with probiotics to line your intestine with the good bacteria, leaving the bad smelly ones homeless.
Your body goes through a lot of work to create digestive fire and promote hunger and it obviously needs food to burn for fuel. A common mistake is to think we can get a flatter tummy or get rid of gas by skipping meals or fasting but that just makes matters worse.
With no fuel to burn the fire dies out and air once again rules your digestive tract. Ensure you eat your meals regularly and avoid heavy ones after sunset, when the weather is at its coolest and windiest.
Do not force yourself out of constipation, which will just stress your digestive tract further. Follow the tips above and prepare a warm ayurvedic beverage by bringing ginger, basil leafs (5-7) and half a teaspoon of ground cardamom to a boil for 3-4 minutes. Filter and sip it every morning in place of tea and coffee.
Sipping while squatting in Malāsana (below) can also help to promote bowel movement. I have many friends who have tried this and it really works!
Email email@example.com for further info or visit her website at www.omhathayoga.com and Instagram @komi_yogi for further tips. A workshop on Yoga for Better Digestion will be held at the Evolve Wellness Centre, London on December 2.
It is a 2.5 hour practice designed to relax your digestive tract and fire up your digestive system. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
by Komal Dadlani, a yoga acharya and meditation instructor teaching private and group sessions in London.