Many of us trust the daily yoga practice in keeping us healthy, grounded, and moving. Many of us also feel the extraordinary benefits of yoga on our minds and mental health.
Did you know, the critical role our gut plays in moderating the connection between our mind and body? Nourishing our gut with healthy foods, and managing digestive issues with prebiotics and probiotics aren’t the only ways to help soothe and relieve bloat, constipation, indigestion or even mood and anxiety.
These days it seems the practice of yoga is a remedy for all things body and mind, and rightfully so. We all know movement and exercise are key to keeping us physically and mentally healthy. Not surprisingly, the holistic practice of yoga can be an effective tool to manage digestive health. Yoga is known to calm the nervous system as it can regulate breathing and help promote the body’s natural relaxation system to release stress.
That feeling of butterflies in the tummy or the urge to run to the bathroom when feeling anxious or nervous is due to the two-way relationship between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is based on a complex system, one of which includes the vagus nerve. As part of the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve oversees a number of crucial body functions including mood, immunity, digestion and heart rate and is an important connection between brain and gut.
When your gut is off, the whole body follows suit and it affects everything from day-to-day activities mood, and sleep. Yoga may just be one of those important practices in the toolbox to soothe and support your gut while also experienceing yoga’s vast array of positive mind and body benefits.
Our enteric nervous system (ENS) and the central nervous system (CNS) both contain millions of neurons that line our digestive system. Thus, the ENS is often described as the brain in the gut or the second brain.* Stress and anxiety and the accompanying GI problems like stomach aches, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea are often is intimately related to ENS functioning.
While much research is ongoing, there is building evidence to suggest that yoga and other mindfulness-based practices can help manage physical and even stressful gut symptoms. Want to learn more about the practice of yoga and digestion? Sign up for this free 30-minute gentle yoga practice and 10-minute breathing practice to help improve your gut-brain connection with Andrea to learn more and sign up click here Andrea Clarke of Ignite Nutrition.
*Furness JB, Stebbing MJ. The first brain: Species comparisons and evolutionary implications for the enteric and central nervous systems. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Feb;30(2). doi: 10.1111/nmo.13234. Epub 2017 Oct 11. PMID: 29024273.