Updated: Aug 24
In an Ayurvedic treatment, constipation is one of the very first things that is given remedy before moving onto any other complaints or issues and it is worth noting that it is often an accompanying complaint when seeking treatments for other things.
Even though it might seem like a good thing to do, don't stop eating in an effort to 'let things move along'. Constipation is a sign of dryness and less food will tend to dry the body more.
The right food, though, can start to mobilise the lower digestive areas.
A morning drink of lemon, honey and ginger (fresh ginger not dried) can help to stimulate the bowels, refresh the body and help the body digest generally. The Sweet taste (madhura rasa) can be helpful in the form of stewed prunes, soaked raisins and warm milk with ghee (add a pinch of turmeric). You can also try adding a little extra olive oil or ghee to foods and/or drink 1-2 teaspoons of ghee in hot water in the morning. Try to avoid mushrooms (which are stodgy and heavy) and beans and foods from the cabbage family (which are drying) until the constipation is no longer an issue but eating lots of root vegetable with some sesame/olive/ghee on top and cooked with toasted cumin can be delicious and take care of your 'roots'.
Maintaining a routine of mealtimes and sleep time is very helpful to encourage a proper routine for the bowels also. In terms of a movement practice, some of the forward fold stretches in Yoga can be very helpful to create a downward movement of energy (such as child's pose/balasana and apanasana (knee hug) as can short and powerful additions of Bhastrika Pranayama during your morning practice (leave this out if you are not accustomed to Pranayama practice).
Massaging over and around the belly gently with an Ayurvedic oil for Vata dosha has a relaxing, soothing and mobilising effect on the bowels as does a foot massage if you think it is stress related (focus your massage around the instep towards the heel -- but anywhere on the foot is fabulous really!).
The Ayurvedic herbal remedy called Triphala is a wonderful addition to anyone's kitchen pharmacy, but in this instance it is a must try!
Ayurveda has a wealth of information on how important our digestion is and how to look after it but a less well known tact is to look into how we are responding to our 'urges in general'. Suppression of the 13 urges is an oft mentioned cause of disturbance in the body and this suppression particularly affects the way that energy/Prana circulates around the body (of which the energy going down and out is very often disturbed first).
Just as a quick add on -- If constipation has been long-standing, often repeated in the body and has become chronic or if this condition is accompanying a more complex digestive issue it is worth looking at it with more vigour than is done here!
And as a second, and most important, add on - Ayurveda would never recommend solely to the condition. Ayurveda takes the original constitution (body-type), the current Vkrti (ALL symptoms of imbalance), amapachana, lifestyle, age and season when recommending diet, movement, supplemental, lifestyle and massage adjustments 🙏