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Mindfulness, Yoga and the Gut-Brain Connection

Amber Cohen, PsyD, CPsych

Written by: Amber Cohen, PsyD, CPsych

Updated: March 4th, 2024

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us overlook the benefits of mindfulness and exploring the connection between our minds and bodies. However, by practicing yoga and mindfulness, we can unlock a multitude of benefits that extend far beyond improved strength and flexibility. Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment versus being lost in thoughts of the past or future. Yoga and meditation have been proven to improve both digestive health and mental well-being.

The practice of yoga is more than movements and postures. Yoga also involves meditation, breathing exercises, and mindfulness. It is as much a mental practice as it is a physical one. The postures and movements involved in yoga are designed to facilitate meditation. Both the mental and physical aspects of yoga aid healthy digestion in numerous ways, including:

Yoga Poses for Digestion

Aside from digestive and mental health, yoga and meditation have numerous other benefits including improved sleep quality, balance, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular health, respiratory health, and weight loss. If you’re new to yoga and meditation, these strategies may help you to get started:

mindfulness breathing technique

Something to note is that yoga and meditation take practice. Being mindful is not easy, but is a skill you can hone over time.Getting started may be really difficult. You may find your mind wandering a lot – work to not be judgmental of this, practice noticing the change in awareness and gently redirecting your focus. Additionally, you may find the practice of yoga physically demanding or adjusting to the slower pace of yoga can also take time. Be patient with yourself and maintain your practice – it will get easier.

Yoga and meditation offer endless benefits for our digestive health, physical health, and mental wellbeing. Whether you’re stepping on the mat for the first time or depending on an existing practice, remember that every breath and every posture is an opportunity to nurture both body and mind. Embrace the journey, be patient with yourself, and witness the transformative power of yoga and mindfulness unfold in your life.

References

Arhanta Yoga. (n.d.). Yoga Poses for Better Digestion. Arhanta Yoga. https://www.arhantayoga.org/blog/yoga-poses-for-better-digestion/

Büssing, A., Michalsen, A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Telles, S., & Sherman, K. J. (2012). Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews. Evidence-Based

Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1–7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/#:~:text=Yoga%20should%20be%20considered%20as,confidence%20and%20body%20image%2C%20improve

Cole, J. (2015, October 22). Yoga for Digestion: 7 Poses to Help You Get Things Moving. Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/yoga-for-digestion

Mawe, G. M., & Hoffman, J. M. (2018). Serotonin Signaling in the Gastrointestinal Tract: Functions, Dysfunctions, and Therapeutic Targets. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 16(12), 702–712. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29306937/#:~:text=During%20stress%2C%20an%20altered%20gut,a%20healthy%20gut%2Dbarrier%20function.

Meditation Magazine. (n.d.). How to Get Started with Yoga. Meditation Magazine. https://www.meditationmag.com/blog/how-to-get-started-with-yoga/

Moore, L. (2020, September 28). The Surprising Connection Between Meditation and Gut Health. Conscious Movements. https://www.consciousmovements.com/body-mind-blog/meditation-gut-health

Mourad, N. (2019, June 18). Beneficial Effects of Yoga on the Digestive System. Impakter. https://impakter.com/beneficial-effects-of-yoga-on-the-digestive-system/

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