A Strong Core and Healthy Gut to Power You Through Life
“ You are the one who tends your inner fire, so keep it burning bright."
~ Myra Lewin
Have you ever had digestive troubles? A better question might be, is there anyone who hasn't? I know too many people who have chronically poor digestion. Poor digestion can cover a lot of ailments - diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, bloating, and an intolerable feeling of fullness in the belly, to name just a few.
There are roughly the same number of bacteria in your gut as you have cells in your body (it was believed that there were 10 times as many bacteria, but this number has recently been called into question - see here). Whatever the number, that's a lot of bacteria! And we need good bacteria in the gut for proper gut functioning. Many diseases begin as a result of poor digestion. Researchers are now studying whether poor gut bacteria has an effect on diseases such as Crohn's disease, a painful inflammatory disease of the bowel - see here.
The gut has been called the "second brain." We've all experienced "butterflies in the stomach," a physiological response to an emotion, usually fear or excitement. Technically, the gut is known as the enteric nervous system, and there are more than twice as many neurons lining the gut - between 200 million to 600 million of them! - as there are in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). The enteric nervous system plays a huge role not only in digestion, but also our emotions, our immune response, and how we respond to stress. The neurotransmitter serotonin is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness and mood. People with depression often have low levels of serotonin. And more than 90% of serotonin is found in the gut.
Decades ago, I earned a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition, and learned many things that have helped to keep me healthy over the years. And as I've practised and studied yoga, I've learned a lot more. Ayurveda, Yoga's sister science, is thousands of years old. A key concept in Ayurveda is that of "agni" or "fire." By stoking our digestive fire, the process of digestion and elimination stays healthy. The state of our agni, or digestive fire in the gut, will determine how much nutrition we draw out of the food we eat.
So Western science is now catching up with Ayurveda as we understand more and more the importance of the gut in the maintenance of health - everything from the absorption of essential nutrients to boosting the immune system to maintaining balanced moods.
Keeping the digestion healthy, and the belly and core strong and supple is thus vitally important for health. There are many practices in yoga that help to maintain and sustain a strong and vibrant digestive system, including pranayama (breath practices) and asana (yoga poses). And of course, what you put in your mouth matters.
If you'd like to boost your energy and stoke your inner fire for better digestion and health, join me and Milka Milicevic, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, on Sunday, November 12, 2017 from 1 pm to 4 pm for our "Stoke Your Inner Fire" workshop. Here's a taste of what you'll discover and enjoy:
Space is limited, so register soon! I look forward to seeing you there.
Here's a short 10-minute meditation I made to help you move towards calmness and healing.
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.