If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” while making a decision or had “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re most likely receiving signals from a complex organ that actually functions as the second brain in your body known as your gut. According to this study, there are more than 100 million nerve cells in the gut, beating the number of neurons in the spinal column and the central nervous system.
As more and more research is done, it appears that the gut is crucial not only for our physical health but also for our mental health. Yoga can also be beneficial to the health of your gut.
The gut is an amazing organ. The food we eat must travel nearly 10 meters through our bodies. Starting at the pyloric sphincter which is the exit from the stomach and ending at your anus, the gut consists of the small and large intestine. The intestines are covered in cells that resemble a shag-pile carpet and are made up of microscopic loops known as villi. These loops increase the gut’s already large surface area, ensuring that every last morsel of nourishment is taken from our food until the undesired leftovers are discharged as poo.
As well as providing fuel for the body, the gut also contains an information superhighway, which runs straight from the gut to the brain – the vagus nerve. It’s the body’s longest cranial nerve, and it’s in control of the parasympathetic nervous system.
The gut also plays a crucial role in our overall health as it houses 70% of the body’s immune cells. These immune cells help beat off infection as well as regulate inflammation in the body. To top it all off, the gut produces 90% of the body’s serotonin, popularly known as the “feel-good” hormone, which has been linked to emotional well-being.
This simply means that if we have a healthy gut, our brain and emotional health are in tip-top condition too.
How Yoga Benefits the Gut
A healthy lifestyle has the potential to profoundly benefit our gut health and act as a preventative measure to many illnesses. Here’s how yoga can heal your gut in multiple ways:
Pranayama or yogic breathing, and meditation have been proven to switch the body from our exhausted sympathetic nervous system to the restful parasympathetic nervous system. This permits the body’s natural healing processes to take effect, restoring the balance within our gut.
Increasing Microbiome Diversity
The microbiome is a valuable asset that must be treated with care. To keep our inner world happy, we need to eat a variety of nutritious foods and engage in light exercise to keep stress hormones under control.
Aiding The Process Of Digestion
Yoga poses that balance on the abdomen can provide an internal massage to the gut organs, flooding the area with more blood cells and thus more oxygen, aiding in the healing of any infections and keeping the gut in better health. Twists can also aid in detoxification by wringing out the liver and kidneys, reducing the number of toxins in the body. Certain poses can even reshape the intestines if there are any kinks or blockages, by stretching and opening the area.
Increasing The Digestive Fire Needed To Digest Efficiently
The importance of the gut as part of a balanced, healthy body has long been acknowledged by the ancient science of Ayurvedic medicine. A lack of digestive fire, in the form of “Agni,” is responsible for a sluggish gut. Yoga can help to re-ignite the fire and improve the digestive process’ efficiency.
Top 5 Asanas To Heal Your Gut
1. Peacock Pose
This pose puts pressure on your stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys, and spleen, and cuts blood flow to them. This not only increases the digestive fire but once released, it then allows fresh oxygenated blood to circulate to the organs, minimizing the production of toxins in the intestine and therefore boosting function. This is the ideal detox pose for yogis!
2. Revolved Crescent Lunge or Seated Twist
These poses aid in digestion, where pressure from the twist is applied to the organs. This facilitates the digestion of fluids and foods, the release of toxins, and helps eliminate waste.
3. Bow Pose
By rocking forward and backward on your belly, you can stimulate digestion while simultaneously massaging your internal organs. The digestive system gets oxygenated and revitalized as a result of the increased blood flow.
This is the perfect stress reduction pose to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and keep your gut happy and stress-free to restore balance within the rest of the body.
5. Sun Salutations
These are excellent for igniting the digestive fire, as a few sun salutations paired with inhalation and exhalation of breath build heat in the abdominals, which helps in digestion and detoxification.
Supplements for Gut Health
When you need an added boost to improve your digestion and gut health, probiotics are an excellent choice. When taken daily, supplements can help to improve gut functions and to balance the healthy bacteria in your digestive organs. New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora supplement boosts immune defense and promotes health with clinical-strength probiotics flora. The three-in-one system serves multiple purposes including prebiotic, probiotic, and post-biotic nourishment.