Yoga And Gut Health
With the word 'yoga', comes the imagery of calm, flowing movement – but it is also a state of stillness. In between the movement and stillness, we can find healing. One of the things caused by a poor diet and lifestyle choices is a weakened microbiome in the gut. This can lead to digestive issues like Irritable bowel syndrome, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, migraines, stress and bloating. No one likes bloating, do they? Thankfully, healing your gut is within reach with specific asanas. (There are even some asanas that target digestive fire, or 'agni'). Yoga detoxifies the body, promotes immunity and triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. In yoga, the pace is guided by the breath. This oxygenates our body and causes the good bacteria in the intestines to flourish!
Rooted in Indian tradition, this mindful practice is renowned for its ability to distress and strengthen the body at the same time. One of the ways in which yoga benefits physical and mental health is through the gut! Here are a few quick asanas you can do every day to support your gut:
1. Shavasana, Or Corpse Pose
It may seem like you just have to lay on your mat in a sleeping position, but this pose harbours so many benefits. As you lie on your back, inhale and exhale deeper. Focus on the sensation of air flowing through each part of the body. Doing this will send you into a state of total relaxation and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This pose also reduces the amount of inflammation in the gut. Shavasana is usually the last asana in a yoga practice used to let go of any control of the body and mind. Use this opportunity to be fully present with yourself, your thoughts and your feelings.
2. Dhanurasana, Or Bow Pose
For this pose, you have to lie on your front. Raise both your legs and bring them towards your upper body. At the same time, lift your torso, reach for your ankles or shins with your hands and grab on. Push your feet into your hands and vice versa for stability. Breathe as you rock back and forth on your belly. This brings more circulation into the gut and improves digestion. It even gives your internal organs a good massage!
3. Balasana, Or Child's Pose
Start by sitting on your heels with your knees on the mat. Fold your torso over your thighs so that your belly and chest are in contact with them. Your arms can be extended out in front of you or you can rest them at your sides. Allow your forehead to touch the mat and breathe into the back body. Balasana compresses your digestive organs and this can speed up the process of digestion. This asana can be used to relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea and abdominal pains. All in all, it's a great stretch!
4. Paschimottasana, Or Forward Fold
To get into this pose, sit with your legs extended. Keeping a straight spine, slowly bend forward till your stomach touches your thighs. Ensure that your spine is straight while maintaining the belly-thigh connection. It is perfectly fine to have a bend in the knees to make this pose more accessible. Paschimottasana, like Balasana, offers benefits for gut health by massaging the internal organs. This asana also relieves bloating, gas build-up and constipation. It is an easy, yet effective one for gut health.
5. Supine Spinal Twist, Or Supta Matsyendrasana
Get twisty with this soothing asana. Lie down on your back and bring your knees to your chest. With your left hand, bring your stacked knees to the left. Your torso should still be on the mat with the right hand at your side. Do not fret if your knees do not touch the ground, just try and get your right shoulder to touch the mat. This is a great way to stimulate circulation in the intestines and it is super detoxifying too. If you feel like your flexibility and mobility could use some work, this asana could surely help.
Exercise can sometimes feel like a commitment that is just asking too much from us. Well, with these stretches, you can get your daily dose of dopamine quickly and easily. Holding each pose for 5-10 breaths can show significant improvement in your gut health. Along with this, aim at having a more balanced diet so that our gut can effectively absorb all the nutrients our body needs. Take care of your body and mind to witness the difference this Yoga Day!