Yoga and the gut - perhaps not the most obvious connection. Yoga can actually be really beneficial for the health of your gut, and in this article, we will discuss precisely why and how!
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice involving meditation, breathing techniques and movement to gain strength, relaxation, discipline and concentration.1 It can be done by pretty much anyone, as there is a range of techniques and poses for the most novice participant to an expert.
Yoga, Stress and Digestion
A big part of gut health is good digestion; many factors can impact how well your body digests what goes in. Yoga can be a powerful digestion tool for many reasons, starting with stress.
Stress can be a factor in poor digestion, as when we are stressed, the brain sends signals to the gut to produce more serotonin, which speeds up the digestion process and can cause diarrhoea.
When this happens, the body doesn’t have a chance to absorb the goodness from the foods properly and may lack nutrition even though good foods are being consumed initially. Yoga focuses heavily on breathing, concentration, meditation and escapism, which can lower stress levels.
Through the gut-brain axis, the brain will send chemical signals to the gut through the blood, expressing that it is under psychological stress. The gut may then react with stomach aches, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and appetite changes, which are symptoms of poor digestion.2
Different positions that are undertaken in yoga act as a massage and stretch for the digestive tract, which can help to move food through the digestive tract.
Yoga also helps the flow of blood and oxygen around the body, which is beneficial for digestion and strengthens the muscles of the internal organs, many of which are connected to or part of the digestive tract.
A strong and healthy gut means you are less likely to experience digestive issues such as bloating, excess gas, diarrhoea, constipation, cramps and pain. Yoga can help to improve digestion by strengthening the gastrointestinal tract whilst also relieving stress which may have been impacting digestion.
Yoga and the Gut Microbiome
Within each of us, we have a gut microbiome with trillions of bacteria. In fact, there are over 100 trillion good bacteria in the gut microbiome alone. The microbiome must be diverse to be healthy, meaning it needs many different species of good bacteria and a good amount of each.
Yoga is a form of exercise which has been proven to diversify the gut microbiome.3 Consistently exercising has been proven to diversify the gut bacteria and help the existing good bacteria to become strong and able to multiply, ensuring they take up enough room for the harmful bacteria to be limited.
Yoga Poses that are Good for the Gut
We thought we’d leave it up to the yoga experts to explain which poses work and exactly how to do them. We highly recommend checking out this article, “Can Yoga Help Aid Digestion? 9 Poses to Try”, and giving a few poses a go!
Really, it’s common knowledge that exercise is good for you, but knowing that specifically yoga can be good specifically for the gut feels a little more like insider knowledge! We’re so happy to share that knowledge and hope you give it a go to help your gut microbiome thrive.