I fell in love with Yoga more than 15 years ago. I started practicing because I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. When it happened, the Doctor put me on a prescription that made me feel absolutely awful! I could barely stand up and felt woosy all the time. It was then that I decided, I am going to find a natural way to manage this diagnosis. I started reading about how yoga is perfect for strengthening and increasing flexibility in our backs.
What I didn't expect was the profound effect yoga has had on my life. Not only have I not had an issue with back pain (only the very rare occasion when I twist the wrong way, usually not at a yoga class) but I am definitely more grounded in my life and physically and mentally stronger! Plus, I am able to cope with stress better, rarely get sick and have overcome regular constipation.
I was shocked that I felt so good even though I only practice yoga twice a week. With an estimated 74 percent of Americans living with digestive symptoms like diarrhea, gas, bloating and abdominal pain, I felt I had to share why yoga is so good for promoting optimal gut health. (Source: Fox News)
Yoga is only one example of how regular, daily movement can promote improving gut health. Yoga is a great, low intensity workout that everyone can do. You do not have to be flexible! In fact, you may gain flexibility with regular practice but you definitely don't need it to start practicing. While daily movement is important for gut health, it is only one aspect of working on getting your gut healthy.
If you are suffering from bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, bloating, brain fog or abdominal pain, I am here to help!
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Now, here are the remarkable benefits yoga provides to help heal the gut. Plus, I added poses with links to Yoga Journal for you to try.
#1 DIGESTIVE SYSTEM SUPPORT
Yoga ensures blood and oxygen flow to and help massage the stomach, liver, intestines and pancreas. During yoga, metabolic processes and enzymes that are generated help to support the absorption of nutrients and excretion of waste. Poses that focus on twisting, stretching and compression all help support the digestive system. (Source: Bahiranga)
#2 IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT
Did you know 70% of our immune system lives in our digestive tract? So a healthy digestive tract means a healthy immune system. Yoga helps to lower stress hormones which can compromise the immune system. Also, yoga helps to condition the lungs and respiratory tract which can help the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body. (Source: Yoga Journal)
I know whenever I am stuffy due to the change of seasons or allergies are kicking in, all I need to take is a yoga class to help get the congestion relieved.
Downward Facing Dog
#3 STRENGTHENS THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Yoga not only relies on the body but also the breath. With conscious breathing, nerve transmissions from the body to the brain, decreases stress and muscular tension. This helps reduce cortisol production, the stress hormone that is often on overload due to our busy lives. (Source: Organic Authority). When we are stressed, our digestive tract becomes upset. Have you ever felt pain in your gut when you are nervous? That is the reaction our digestive tract is having to stress.
To help relieve stress daily, take a couple of deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the nose. Slowing expanding the belly on the intake and slowly reducing the belly as you exhale. You'll be amazed how effective this is to relieve stress in the moment.
Big Toe Pose
#4 BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
Yoga has been studied for it's affects on the brain. One researcher studied that by practicing yoga for one hour per day, there are significantly increased levels of GABA, a chemical in your brain that helps to reduce signals in the brain. Why is this important? If your brain has reduced signals, then it is less like to be constantly "busy" which means it can stop stray thoughts that are often associated with anxiety and depression. (Source: Chopra) Once you are anxious, the gut reacts and negative effects such as diarrhea happen.
#5 IT MAKES YOU HAPPY
When we exercise endorphins (our happy hormones) increase in the brain which makes you feel better. Ever hear of runners high? The same thing happens when practicing yoga. Serotonin levels are increased in the brain making you feel better. (Source: Yoga Fit) When we feel happy, we are more relaxed and our digestive tract works to keep things moving.
Yoga has so many benefits for our gut health and overall well-being. Remember, there is no right or wrong in yoga practice. It is all about working with the body you have. A great teacher once told me: There is a reason it is called Yoga Practice and not Yoga Perfect.
Do you think you will try yoga for better gut health? Let me know by leaving a comment below.