Yoga has been proven to positively influence every system in the body (muscular system, endocrine system, skeletal system, etc.) The digestive system is no different and more and more research is pouring in to prove it. Such groundbreaking research has even zoomed so close in on gut health and its ties to physical activity.
“Yoga is not a trendy starlet that flickers briefly in the fitness sky. Yoga is a sound science that goes back thousands of years.”—Eva Maria Hoffmann-Gombotz, PhD microbiologist and yoga teacher
Yoga is a multifaceted practice that people tap into for various reasons. For many, its incorporating physical activity into their daily life to claim benefits like toning, flexibility, and strength. For others, it’s a modality for getting their mind right, sharpening focus, and cultivating a relaxed state of being. Even so, yoga’s effects on the body occur internally as well, whether or not individuals are conscious of it.
Yoga, an incredible ally to an individual’s gut health, reduces stress levels, increases microbiome diversity, and aids digestion.
Gut Health No. 1- Stress Reduction
Think of the gut as another mind in the body. Microbiome in the gut is extremely sensitive to the signals it receives from the body, be it mental or physical. Thus, its ability to respond appropriately is based on the condition of its health. Because of this, gut health directly influences the quality of our lives.
Because the gut lends a hand in the production of neurotransmitters such as GABA and dopamine, and effects hormone regulation, its health is vital to our physical experience. Playing a critical role in regulating our response to stress and how we interact with the world, a healthier gut is better armed to reduce stress rather than elevate or create it.
One way a persistent yoga practice can influence our gut health is through conscious yogic breathing, known as pranayama. Stress levels are best observed by tuning into the breath. High stress is detectable in shallow and rapid breath. Conversely, lower stress is linked to deeper, slower breaths.
When mindful breathing is woven into one’s yoga practice, the parasympathetic nervous system is at the helm. The more activated the parasympathetic nervous system is during practice, the easier it is to tap into off of the mat. A healthy, utilized parasympathetic nervous system can then restore our health and bring balance to the ecosystem in the gut.