The origins of yoga are varied and complex. Yoga historians do, however, agree, that the practice was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India for the purpose of Hindu and Buddhist spiritual harmony and mental enlightenment. Centuries after its beginnings, and as the practice moved to the Western parts of the world, yoga became popular primarily for its well-established techniques to rejuvenate and purify the physical body as well as the mind. It also helps promote good gut health.
Modern yoga incorporates breathing exercises, meditation, poses and postures, called asanas, designed to encourage relaxation, reduce stress, build flexibility, and strengthen muscles.
Harvard Health Publishing describes Hatha yoga, a combination of several other styles of yoga, as one of the most popular styles. “It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).
The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this “edge,” the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.”
However, in addition to the mental and external physical advantages, yoga students and medical practitioners are discovering a plethora of internal benefits as well.
Leading nutritionist and yoga teacher Fiona Tuck reveals, “yoga works on a physical level by stimulating the internal organs via various asanas. It also helps to soothe the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress levels and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us rest and digest.”
The American Nutrition Association says, “70,000,000 people suffer from some form of digestive issues on a daily basis. Bloating, indigestion, flatulence, heaviness, and cramps bring a lot of discomfort and restlessness…, whether this discomfort is due to overeating, over-indulging, constipation, hyperacidity or irritable bowel syndrome.”
An unhealthy digestive system is the root cause of many diseases. An effective digestive process of ingestion, the breakdown of food, nutrient absorption, and elimination of indigestible food, wastes, and toxins gives energy to the body and produces a clear mind.
As more and more people turn to yoga, research and studies support the apparent health benefits experienced in the bodies’ internal organs and functions.
According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, “a case study compared 186 patients with chronic diseases, including gastrointestinal, who regularly practiced yoga with 186 patients who did not practice yoga. Patients who practiced yoga reported better overall health status and physical quality of life than those who did not.”
In addition, The Art of Living Foundation lists the following digestive benefits of yoga:
Asanas stretch the body, massaging the abdominal muscles. This helps food to move efficiently along the digestive tract.
– Some asanas apply gentle pressure on the organs in the gut, while others help relieve abdominal tension.
– The twisting asanas help “wring out” some of the abdominal organs, enabling more efficient bowel movements (peristalsis), and relieving constipation.
– Asanas also improve circulation of blood to the digestive organs, thus aiding digestion.
– The body is effectively detoxed. Toxins accumulated from a bad diet, unhealthy lifestyles, and stress are flushed out.
– Historical research into this ancient practice, along with modern medical evidence, make clear the benefits that a regular yoga routine can provide to your overall health as well as the benefits to your digestive system. Incorporating some yoga time into your daily schedule will make a noticeable difference to your gut health.