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How yoga can support the digestive system and practices to improve gut health - The biochemistry between your gut and mind:





Yin yoga for me has always felt like whole-body psychotherapy, an opportunity to tend to my sensitive, complex,  nervous system. In a culture where we can tend to live up in our heads, voices from our bellies often go unheard, there is so much wisdom here! If we take the time to slow down and listen.

There is immense communication between our gut and brains which we are only beginning to understand. Tuning into the visceral feelings of our breath in our belly can invite attention down away from the mind preoccupations that keep us in the perpetual states of stress and worry that can affect digestion in many ways.


With digestive conditions shown to be nervous system related, many people are turning to practices that de-stress and also reconnect to the importance of fundamental needs like rest and self-compassion.

Once our yoga practice has become embodied and deeply committed to; one of the skills we develop and expand is awareness & connection to ourselves, our inner world. One of the first places we may spot an imbalance is within our digestive system, affecting our overall daily comfort in this body. Gut health is health, as anyone who has ever had disturbances in their digestive processes can attest.

Personally I have had digestive sensitivities from early childhood to late adulthood. There have been many investigations explored medically and holistically over the years, anyone had a colonoscopy? yep me too, doctors always seem to tell us there is nothing wrong, yet in our inner landscape we feel and know all isn’t well and something is off balance, how can we not make the connection that digestive health is not intimately related to our emotions and nervous system.


Gut Health seems to be having its moment in the health and wellness space at the moment, but for me, it’s nothing new, I have discovered over the many years of discovery, that gut health is the foundation of all health, I know, I know, but people say sleep is, they say strength is, others say hormonal balance, I get it! so many messages are being screamed at us these days about pillars of health, I am merely sharing from my own experience and perceptions.


 Those of us who feel more sensitive (to food, the world, tv) need to embrace this as a gift for intuition, but also recognise that we need more recovery and alone time. Kindness to self, over a judgmental or disciplinary attitude to our bellies is the beginning of this tuning in to our true needs.

Gut health is the foundation of us, not only being able to digest food and nutrients well, so all our bodily functions work optimally, but it’s how we digest emotions, it’s the pillar of our mental health and immune function.


Did you know 80% of serotonin is produced in the gut, this is the hormone that allows us to feel, safe, connected, loved, Serotonin also relates to our digestion, sleep patterns, appetite, memory, sexual desires and functions, and bone metabolism.


Did you know that your immune system starts in the gut! So when I say gut health is health, it truly is!

Optimal digestive health can mitigate other imbalances, as well as serve as a shield against the onset of disease, as it intimately relates to our ability to eliminate toxins.


Gut health can also be complex-there are no guaranteed solutions to any of these challenges — but some principles and practices to look after this vital area of the body may help.


Change is hard, I am self confessed biscuit addict as any of you that know me will know. We all want to stay in our comfort zone with the desire of repeating pleasure and avoiding difficulty. Sometimes enduring a health crisis is the only thing that will really motivate us to pause and consider altering a habit— especially in relation to food. But we can begin with some minor adjustments. I often recommend starting with small little  shifts to our morning routine, which can work to create a balanced mood that inspires healthier choices throughout the day.





Like morning meditation, setting an intention for our first meal to both cleanse and connect us can create a sense of joy in our bodies, rather than focussing on strict guidelines of numbers, can we make wholesome, whole hearted food choices, can we recognise when the body has exceeded it’s capacity to cope, and can we support it, with wiser choices (and really importantly can we not beat ourselves up when we don’t). I’m not sure about you, but I experience an awful lot of joy and soothing from food, I enjoy 80% super healthy and 20% potentially not so, as yin yogis we know, THE MIDDLE PATH, not too much , not too little is the WAY!


Remember, we needn't become overly fussy about food in order to become more balanced. We can simply begin to shine the light of loving attention toward our bodies and notice how they respond. Like getting to know a future dear friend.


I’m not a nutritionist so I am not here to give any regarding food, what I do know is YOGA and I have seen the impact of it on myself and many clients over the years, for me the start of gut health is NSR – NERVOUS SYSTEM REGULATION! Which is what YIN YOGA IS ALL ABOUT

Did you know the National Institutes of Health states ‘In particular, those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find relief from yoga. Scientists think IBS results from overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, the stress system of your body’.

Yin yoga, with its focus on stilling the mind - can have profound effects through the gut-brain axis, which influences many digestive imbalances.

 

Important aspects we nourish in therapeutic yin are:

The vagus nerve, stress, trauma, interoception and proprioception.

 

Opening up the psoas muscle that connects the legs to the torso and runs through the inner thighs, hips and groin helps relieve compression in the colon and encourages lymphatic flow that helps elimination processes. Any focussed attention on individual organs and ‘gut feelings’ may help a mindful yoga practice to cultivate positive feedback loops from the gut to the brain.






I have personally found following a vegetarian diet to be very healing for my digestive health, for over 10 years now I very rarely have any unsettled symptoms. I also have found loving kindness meditation to be very beneficial, we explore this together in class, Monday Night Yin Club members you have access to your free recordings here:

 

The first step in any health protocol is showing yourself a little bit of loving kindness, compassion and acceptance, all qualities we embody in a therapeutic yin practice.

 

I wish you well on your healing journey.


Much Love

 

Carliann











 









 

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