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How Yoga and Meditation can help support our gut health

Yoga teaches us to connect to our breath, body and brain. This connection has the ability to restore balance in our mental, physical and psychological wellbeing.

Yoga consists of

  1. Mindful movement

  2. Breath work

  3. Meditation

The combination has a positive effect on our gut health by regulating, stimulating and detoxifying both body and mind.

Physical benefits

The same postures have been practiced over thousands of years to reduce stress, invigorate the body and balance the central nervous system. Particular postures such as twists and forward folds compress the stomach, providing an internal massage for the digestive organs. This encourages healthy digestion by increasing blood flow and circulation, to assist with gut mobility and colon functionality.

The magic is in the breath

While the postures are important, the most essential part of the practice is the breath. If you were to simply hang in a forward fold and hold your breath, it is likely you will not see or feel any of the benefits. However, if you were to practice with slow, mindful breaths, inhaling through the nose, pushing the lower belly into the tops of the thighs, and exhaling through the nose for a minimum of 5 breaths, you will provide the body with fresh oxygen, and feel a sense of calm from the release of endorphins. Slow, deep breathing in these postures can also physically reduce symptoms of bloating, cramping and gas.

Time to de-stress

Regulating our breath allows us to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest function. When we are stressed, communication between the gut and brain (the gut brain axis) becomes disrupted, and can result in conditions like IBS, where the mechanics of the gut do not function efficiently.

The rest and digest state instantly reduces cortisol, the stress hormone created when the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is activated. By reducing stress in the body and mind we eliminate the root cause of many digestive problems, which in turn, helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

As we cultivate connection, strength, and awareness through consistent practice of yoga we can learn to enjoy life with more confidence and less discomfort in our gut.

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