You Are What You Eat: How To Use Yoga To Connect Your Mind To Your Gut.
There is a reason our guts are often referred to as our ‘second brains’, and just like a healthy mind, we need to train them to achieve this positive balance. A healthy gut ensures a high-functioning immune system, healthy heart, and effective digestion – not to mention better sleep and improved moods so you can keep going and going.
When one portion of our body can so easily impact our entire well-being, it’s important to keep it in check – and surprisingly for some, yoga is a great way to do that. What many people don’t know is that the range of movements and poses explored during practice work wonders for our insides, massaging organs and certain nerves which can have a supercharging effect on our overall health and promoting a deep focus on restoration.
Even though on the outside, yoga might just look like a whole lot of bending and stretching, it actually works (in combination with breathwork and meditation) to holistically connect mind, body and soul. Whether you prefer more dynamic movements or gentle flows, the beauty of yoga is that it can be switched up to suit the individual, and the most benefits are achieved when you move in a way that best aligns with your body’s needs. As long as it is being used as a tool alongside a balanced diet and mindfulness, yoga practice will ensure your health both internally and externally.
When we talk about gut health in terms of yoga, one major aspect is the Vagus Nerve; a large cranial nerve that runs from the brain to the gut, acting as a superhighway for information. This internal communication system sends signals from the brain to the digestive system and is engaged during many yogic breath techniques to improve ‘vagal tone’. This helps us to relax, regain focus and further reduces inflammation in the gut. During practice, while certain poses like Ustrasana or Bhujangasana massage our inner organs and work to support digestion, in combination with centred breathwork, our gut is being exercised.
Gut health actually relies heavily on our mental health, and can deteriorate during stressful periods, so zoning in on our breath and slowing down during practice provides space to reconnect mind to body. To finalise the process, I am a firm believer that ‘you are what you eat’, which is why I try to maintain a nutritious, balanced diet where possible. Fuelling my body with fresh foods before or after a practice is vital and using yoga to support digestion ensures my body is working at its best. I like to nourish my body with plenty of plant-based goodness like those provided by my favourite clean and green meal delivery service, Soulara. Dietitian designed, fresh-made, and delivered straight to your door, not only is the convenience welcomed after a long working day, but I trust them to provide me with the whole nutrients my body needs.
Now we know the importance of our microbiome, I encourage everyone to try out some simple yoga flows that aid with digestion and boost metabolism, and watch as your insides thank you in return. From improved moods to healthy blood flow throughout the body, the benefits of yoga on our mind, body and soul are endless.
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Passionate about teaching the ‘art of slowing down’, Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic, in Sydney’s Paddington. With over 2000 hours of yoga teacher training, Kate covers everything from calming flows, to dynamic and upbeat movements. Kate co-created the unique and first of its kind, ‘Flow After Dark, Yoga Silent Disco’ events around Australia, bringing her own sense of flair and fun to the practice of yoga.
She moved on to lead her own Inspired Leaders Yoga Teacher Training and mentoring, and created her own 4 week e-course, The Space Between, with a focus on mindfulness and slowing down – saying her goal for her students is to ‘make their default mode ‘calm’.
Also a proud author, Kate released her own book ‘Life in Flow’ in 2019, that spreads the word of the importance of balance through yoga, meditation and breathwork.
Here is where you can find Kate and all of the wonderful things she is getting up to: