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Best of Yoga: Insights from Himalayan Institute-Digestion-Part 1

January 7, 2010

Lemons for Positive Life Changes (by audreyjm529)

How to improve digestion? Part 1

One of these days I’ll write about my experience at the Himalayan Institute (Honesdale, PA) but for now I thought I’d start a Best of series to share some of the practices we learned. We were given ideas of Ayurvedic practices to incorporate into our daily routines and given time and structure to try them. I joke that if you were to try to do all these practices you’d never be done! There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that you “should” do to live a good and healthy life.

It’s not about doing everything. Even changing just one thing about your routine is a positive change.

So what is a normal, over-stressed, over-scheduled person who doesn’t live in a cave up in the Himalayan mountains and have all day to meditate to do?

Try out different practices, commit to them for a period of time, and then see how you feel. Does the practice make a difference in your body? your mind? your energy? your spirit? Do you feel lighter? More balanced? Does the time and energy invested give you back more? Be honest.

It’s not about doing everything. Take the practices that work for you. Even changing just one thing about your routine is a positive change.

One of my favorite, easy tips is Hot Lemon Water.

Cheap. Simple. Powerful. Zero calories.


At the Himalayan Institute, people take lemon tea all day long: upon waking, between meals, before meals, before bed.

Try taking it first thing in the morning.

To be well you need to effectively assimilate nutrition and eliminate toxins.


Ayurveda would say that taking lemon tea in the morning helps move all the gunk that has collected overnight in your digestive track. The lemon tea is like a reset button for your digestive system. The hot water plus acidic plus salt pulls excess sticky congestive mucus off of the linings and walls of your esophagus and stomach. You will feel lighter and more balanced to take in the nutrients of the day. I find this practice very energizing for my kapha nature. (Kapha is one of the constitutions or types in Ayurvedic medicine. More in another post.) I feel very light, energized, and clear.


Good Digestion = Life

Super beneficial for the digestive system. At the Himalayan Institute–of “Eat right, Move right, Sleep right” fame–we spent a lot of time getting in tune with our digestive systems (the “eat right” part of the equation). We attended to what was going in and coming out. Digestion and elimination were considered basic factors to a healthy life. It’s simple really. To be well you need to effectively assimilate nutrition and eliminate toxins.

Hot lemon water is one way to get the digestive system functioning more optimally.


There is something very meditative and soothing preparing hot lemon tea. Tea time is a tradition in many cultures from England to Japan. The routine, patience, and quiet can add wonders to your day in just a few minutes.

If you think you don’t have time to prepare tea, ask yourself this: Do I honestly not have 5min to spare in your day? Try turning off the evening news 5min early. Or asking a friend or partner to watch the kids for 5min. Or taking 5min before checking your email.

So, do you want a better functioning digestive system? Are you ready to incorporate hot lemon water into your life?

How to make Hot Lemon Water:

  • 1 lemon
  • water
  • salt
  • honey (if desired)

Boil the water. Juice the lemon (or half a lemon). Combine water and lemon juice. Add salt. Add honey if desired.

Cheap. Simple. Powerful.



Yes. Salt. The saltiness is what pulls the excess mucus off of your digestive track lining.

How salty?

For your first time, try a little saltier than you might think. It’s more than a token amount of salt. I like mine salty. A bit briney, like the ocean.

But remember, you have to drink this. And enjoy it.

There is a matter of preference. Some of my friends don’t like the salt and only put enough in to barely taste. Others like myself enjoy the salt. Test out different amounts.

Honey? No thanks. I’m trying to cut down on sugar to loose weight this year.

First, congratulations on making a real effort to improve your health.

If you have a real medical reason to skip the honey, please do. You will get all the great benefits outlined above without honey.

For others: You may skip the honey and get great benefit. I invite you to try and add a touch of honey to your mix as well on occasion. Ayurveda values honey for many qualities (including antimicrobial) and believes that honey is a beneficial addition to this mixture.

When do I take this again?


For super benefit, try in the morning. Before you have breakfast.


What do you think of the salt? honey? When do you take your lemon water?

Let me know how it goes in the comments below! I’d love to here your thoughts!

until next time,


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