It’s no secret that getting up, shaking things out, and moving your body has a wealth of benefits in almost every regard. And as one of the most popular physical activities, yoga has quite the reputation for boosting health and wellness; but when it comes to your gut, is yoga really all it’s cracked up to be?
Let’s find out!
Tapping Into the Gut-Brain Axis
Wondering why your stomach always feels icky when you’re in a stressful situation? It’s been proven that there’s a biological link between your digestive system and your nervous system – and it’s called the gut-brain axis.
The gut-brain axis, directly and indirectly, links your central nervous system to your gastrointestinal system (commonly known as the GI tract). As something stressful or alarming happens in our lives, our brains send warning signals to our bellies which, in turn, react by causing anxiety, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. Call it a nervous stomach, or simply IBS, either way – our stomachs and brains are intrinsically aligned, so healing one, can help take care of the other.
As a known stress-buster, yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help calm the mind, bring down those cortisol levels, and get your body back on track.
Twist, Turns, and Calorie Burns
While no two yoga practices are the same for “every body,” variations such as Ashtanga and Yin, can help those with IBS and other gut health issues get moving, without “shaking things up” too much. In other words, it’s a gentle form of exercise that isn’t too harsh on your insides.
The more twists, turns, and inversions the practice contains, the more likely it is to help you find new positions that are beneficial to your belly too. This can get your digestive system going, but can also help with increasing your circulation, and even allowing for more oxygen flow (especially if you follow yogic breathing techniques such as ujjayi breath).
A Mix of Meditation and Massage
Aside from the meditative properties of the practice, yoga is essentially like giving your insides a massage. By spending as little as 15 minutes on the mat, you’ll be breaking away from your daily routine and moving your body in a way you normally don’t. Poses such as downward dog, cobra, and bow pose, work the muscles around the abdomen and glutes, for example, helping to strengthen them and reducing the likelihood of certain IBS symptoms such as bloating and constipation.