Today marks the UN’s “International Day of Yoga”. Millions upon millions of yoga enthusiasts from 150 countries will come together for some fun, some challenging, and some quirky asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathwork).
How did the ancient practice of yoga move out of India and across the globe? I think people here in the Western hemisphere are drawn to yoga initially for it’s physical benefits, and then discover it provides them with much more. From a holistic wellness standpoint, yoga is truly remarkable. Not only does it fulfill our physical need to move…it calms the mind and connects us to our deeper selves and the universe in which we exist.
The Indian government, in consultation with India’s leading yoga experts, has this to say about the science of yoga:
“…medical research in recent years has uncovered many physical and mental benefits that Yoga offers, corroborating the experiences of millions of practitioners. A small sampling of research shows that:
- Yoga is beneficial for physical fitness, musculoskeletal functioning and cardio-vascular health.
- It is beneficial in the management of diabetes, respiratory disorders, hypertension, hypotension and many lifestyle- related disorders.
- Yoga helps to reduce depression, fatigue, anxiety disorders and stress.
- Yoga regulates menopausal symptoms. “(1)
The Gut Connection
We’ve established that a regular yoga practice can reduce stress and improve mood.
And less stress, be it physical or mental, is good news for your digestive system. Remember the gut-brain axis? The gut and brain share an intricate communication network via the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system.
No surprise, then, that research has confirmed yoga to be useful as a form of complementary therapy in those with digestive dysfunction.
In 2015, a randomized controlled study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease found that, “A simplified yoga-based regimen is a safe and effective complementary clinical treatment modality for patients with inflammatory bowel disease during the clinical remission phase” (meaning when the symptoms are under control). (2)
Also in 2015, the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a qualitative analysis of six randomized controlled trials, involving a total of 273 patients, which concluded that yoga might be a feasible and safe adjunctive treatment for people with IBS.
Personally, I began my yoga journey over 16 years ago. It has greatly helped me with everything from chronic pain and inflammation to constipation to improved sleep, energy, and mood. So convinced was I of yoga’s profound impacts to the body, mind, and spirit that I became certified to teach yoga in 2009. And, I’ll remind you again that yoga has so impressed the United Nations that it gave it it’s own International Day!
So, if you haven’t yet discovered the gifts of yoga, what are you waiting for?! Find a yoga studio through a simple google search and let the good vibes flow!