Yoga healed my chronic digestive issues and it can heal yours too.
For years I had suffered from weird digestion. Bloating, stomach aches that had me curled over in stabbing and unexplainable pain, digestion-related cramps, inconsistent bathroom habits and an overall feeling of “something’s not right.”
I had gone to naturopaths and western doctors, experimented with different diets, tested for allergies and hormone imbalances… all the while experiencing ebbs and flows of weeks where I felt completely fine to weeks where I was cancelling plans, sipping ginger ale at the bar and dreading beach vacations because I felt 6 months pregnant in my swimsuit.
Digestion issues run ~ and ruin ~ your life.
Always on your mind, digestive issues make it incredibly difficult to live, work, or think clearly.
When I deepened my yoga practice – meaning I began practicing yoga a few times a week – and healed my disordered eating mindset – meaning stopped counting calories and comparing that number to what was burned on the elliptical that night – my digestive issues began to go away.
Yoga creates the conditions to process emotions, manage stress, give you tools to address digestive symptoms when they arise, and becomes a lifestyle that invites more balance in your day to day. With a yoga practice, you truly feel better… in every area of your life.
Why Yoga for Digestion?
The number 1 factor that affects your digestion is STRESS. And stress is inevitable! An alarming noise in your neighborhood, running late for an appointment, planning a wedding, getting a cold, having a fight or disagreement with a loved one…
Your sympathetic nervous system is activated, stress hormones are released, blood is drawn from the stomach and brain into the muscles, and your body prepares for a fight or flight.
This is your stress response – and it’s entirely normal and healthy.
Once the perceived stressful situation has dissipated, your body switches into the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the mind and body, absorbs the excess stress hormones back into the bloodstream or releases it through urine, redistributes blood back into your belly, and restores balance. Your immune system thrives, your reproductive system is balanced and your digestion is working optimally.
This switching between fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest is healthy. The problem occurs when you experience consistent stress over prolonged periods of time (aka, most of us in our contemporary lives).
How Yoga Helps
Yoga for your Nervous System:
The practice of yoga creates the conditions for your body to drop into the parasympathetic nervous system state more frequently, which is where your body is able to rest, digest and heal itself.
Yoga Poses for Healthy Digestion:
Many of the traditional yoga poses support healthy functioning of your organs and glands – including digestion, circulation, reproduction, immunity and sleep. Poses that involve twisting are especially beneficial as they literally “wring out” your digestive tissues and organs, helping activate and move food along the digestive tract.
Pranayama (Breathwork) for Healthy Digestion:
Yoga puts a big emphasis on your breath. Each breath you take triggers the sympathetic (inhale, activation) and parasympathetic (exhale, relaxation). We can use our breath more intentionally to help de-activate the sympathetic system response and bring our bodies into a rested, calm state. This is why deep, conscious breaths are so beneficial when you’re feeling anxious.
Why Build a Consistent Yoga Practice:
When you practice yoga consistently – even just 5 minutes a day – you feel better. When you feel better, you’ll desire to keep feeling better… and suddenly your yoga practice becomes a part of your lifestyle and symptoms (like digestive issues, trouble sleeping, etc) will become less prevalent. You might still experience occasional flare-ups, but your general wellbeing will feel more balanced.
After years of suffering through digestive issues and finally finding tools and practices that made me feel profoundly better, I created a self-guided, online course with everything you need to know to live a healthier, more balanced life. It’s only $37 and it will change your life. Holistic Digestion: Lifestyle Techniques for healthy digestion, boosted immunity and overall wellbeing.
I offer free yoga classes that target digestive issues on my YouTube channel, along with specific poses for symptom relief. I can’t wait to practice with you!