In most American households, any talk about gastrointestinal, or gut, health has been reserved for our innermost ramblings (e.g. “Is this okay? Am I dying?”), and, of course, our Google search history. We simply don’t want to discuss our bathroom habits, whether they’re normal or not.
Hear this, though: beyond its role in waste elimination, your gut is important. According to Dr. Lisa Ganjhu at NYU, good gut health helps you better absorb beneficial nutrients, contributes to your energy and mood, and even promotes immunity —did you know 70-80% of your body’s immune system lives in your gut?
So, perhaps it’s time to create a conversation about gut health and learn what you can do to ensure your insides are humming along happily. Practicing yoga is one surprising way to do that.
Benefits of Yoga for Gut Health
Researchers believe there is a unique connection between the gut and the brain. In terms of mental effects, chronic stress is often associated with gastrointestinal issues like constipation. Therefore, practicing yoga can help relax the mind, and soothe the gut!
Physically, consistent yoga practice offers a gentle massage of sorts for your internal organs. Yoga teacher and gut expert, Lee Holmes, says the stretches and postures in yoga optimize the flow of oxygen to your core and flush toxins, leading to a detoxifying effect. As a result, you might experience less bloat, better digestion, and a leaner waistline.
While you’re hunting for a local yoga class, try these simple poses for better gut health:
Apanasana is known as the wind-relieving pose. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Rest your arms at your sides. Pull your knees up towards your chest, hugging your arms around them. Hold the position. Next, take turns hugging each one of your knees, the right then the left. Afterwards, return to the start position.
Ushtrasana, or camel pose, stretches the stomach and keeps your gastrointestinal system functioning optimally. Kneel with your knees perpendicular to the ground and your soles pointing upward. While inhaling deeply, lean back slowly until your pelvis is in line with your knees. Exhale, reaching for your heels and curving your back so that your head is tilted. Hold for a few counts, then return to start.
Locate yoga teachers in your area to build a customized practice to fit your health and wellness needs.
Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash