A readers comment and accompanying illustrations:
I’ve always wondered whether the average, non-yogic stomach is indeed flabby as we draw it onto the whiteboard. I was taught that vamana dhauti would make the stomach less flabby, otherwise said, it would shape up, so that the lower part of the stomach that in my drawing holds food (purple color) will become less flabby and in time tighten up so that it becomes something like the 2nd image I attach.
First, what exactly does a non-yogic, normal stomach look like when it’s inside the living human body? Here’s a link to a CT scan photograph of a normal stomach. It’s the darkest blob taking up most of the frame. Here’s another CT scan photo showing a stomach with a cancer growth. This photo is of someone who swallowed barium, which shows very light colored on x-rays, to highlight the stomach. (You’ll need to scroll half-way down the page.)
While these “real, live” photographs are nice, they’re still only part of the picture. The stomach isn’t static. It doesn’t just sit like in either of the above images submitted by the reader. It’s dynamic, with waves of contractions that distort the shape. The strongest contractions originate in just that lower area mentioned, the antrum. They’re basically a grinder that churns food and sweeps it towards the outlet, the pyloric valve, into the small intestine.
At a snapshot in time, the same stomach could look like either drawing depending on whether the antrum was contracting or not.
Also, the details of the outline, or the shape, of the stomach, which is a distensible container, will change depending on how much food and drink is in there. It’s basically a sack that holds 1200 to 1500 ml, but it has a capacity of greater than 3000 ml.1 It’s reasonable to consider that someone who consistently eats too much may have a “flabby” and stretched out stomach compared to someone who eats very little and who has the smooth muscular layer of the stomach wall tight.
But does vomiting daily with vamana dhauti (otherwise called kunjal kriya) tighten that muscle and reduce any ‘flab” in that area?
When you vomit, the primary muscles involved are the abdominal wall muscles, the same ones you work out to have a six-pack. Respiratory muscles contract, too, and so does the antrum of the stomach. Exercising any muscle, even the smooth muscle of the stomach antrum, will build it up and tighten it. And, as with a six-pack, that may reduce flab.
But put it in context. The antrum contracts forcefully on average about every 20 seconds. A few extra contractions from forced retching every morning in vamana dhauti is unlikely to cause much increase in muscle strength and tightness. Therefore, vamana dhauti isn’t likely to change the shape of the stomach significantly. Vamana dhauti won’t make the stomach less flabby.
- Robbins Pathological Basis of Disease, Sixth Edition. WB Saunders Company. Philadelphia,1999, pp 787.