Many people recognize that yoga is a fantastic tool for helping to improve mental and cardiovascular health. However, yoga can improve much more than this.
In this article, I’m going to describe how yoga can enhance the health of your gut, improving digestion and leading to an overall improvement in your well-being.
Yoga and the Gut
The gut is incredibly important – moreso than many people are aware of. The gut is sometimes referred to as our ‘second brain,’ and keeping our gut healthy ensures not just optimal digestion and physical health, but good mental health.
In fact, recent research into the gut-brain axis has revealed that there is a highly complicated communicative network that links our brain and our gut. This means that imbalances or unhealthy digestion can disrupt our mental health, and vice versa.
Yoga, especially when combined with other facets of a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle (plant-based diet, consistent routine, etc.), can lead to healthy digestion.
Yoga Gut Health Benefits
Here are some of the unique ways in which yoga can help enhance the health of your gut.
Yoga Reduces Anxiety and Stress
As discussed earlier, there is a complicated communication system between the brain and the gut. Struggling with anxiety and stress can lead to significant digestive issues, so if you’re high-strung and struggling with indigestion, yoga might be one of the best things for you to try.
Yoga Activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System
This is part of the reason that it helps to reduce stress and anxiety – however, our nervous system also plays a direct role in our digestion. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, digestion is slowed, and we can experience constipation. However, when the parasympathetic system is activated, our minds, muscles, and digestive organs become more relaxed.
Yoga Stimulates the Digestive Tract
There are many yoga poses that can directly stimulate organs in the digestive tract, including the intestines, the pancreas, and the stomach. This can create strength and ensure healthy elimination.
Yoga Tips for Healthy Gut Health
The body is actually more flexible after a bowel movement, however, if you need to rely on yoga to help stimulate your bowels, doing yoga in the morning can be great for this.
Try to do your yoga before you eat a morning meal.
Yoga Poses for Digestion
- Standing forward bend (Uttanasana) helps to relieve constipation.
- Cow/cat pose (Marjaryasana Bitilasana) helps to massage organs and bring blood to the digestive tract
- Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svasana) gently stimulates the nerves and reduces anxiety.
The number of benefits that yoga can provide for your digestion are impressive. Following a regular yoga routine can ensure healthy elimination and digestive ability.
Written by Nigel Ford
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)