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Mindfulness Therapy, Yoga and the Gut-Brain Connection

woman practicing mindfulness with a relaxed seated pose on a couch
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Mindfulness Therapy, Yoga and the Gut-Brain Connection

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us overlook the benefits of mindfulness therapy and exploring the connection between our minds and bodies. However, by practicing yoga and mindfulness therapy, 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.

 

How Does Yoga Actually Help?

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:

 

  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve – These nervous systems activate our body’s “rest and digest” processes. The parasympathetic nervous system enables digestive function, decreases heart rate, and slows breathing.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety – Yoga utilizes mindfulness and breathing exercises. These meditative processes have been shown to ease stress and anxiety in some people. Reducing stress benefits both digestive function and mental well-being.
  • Promoting mindful eating – Yoga trains our brains to be mindful in everyday life. Mindful eating is meant to be intuitive by eating when hungry and stopping when full. This holistic approach to eating can prevent overeating or undereating, which can cause digestive health problems.
  • Stimulating digestive organs – Several yoga postures stimulate our digestive organs by compressing or massaging them. This increases blood flow to these organs, and ultimately leads to improved function.
  • Improving gastrointestinal motility – Many yoga poses that involve twisting help to move food through the digestive system. Additionally, inversion poses to reduce the weight placed on the digestive system by other organs, also helping to move food through the digestive system.

 

Optimal Yoga Poses to Enhance Digestive Wellness

Wide-Ranging Benefits of Yoga & Meditation

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:

1. Attend a yoga class

There are many different types of yoga you can practice. You can research the different types and see which ones sound interesting to you. Approach a new class as an experiment where you see if it feels right for you. Many studios offer beginner classes, which can be a great way to get started. Even if it’s not a beginner class, the practice of yoga is intended for everyone at all levels. There are always ways to modify postures to match your unique needs. Try these beginner yoga poses in our article to get started!

2. Practice mindfulness therapy daily

This does not have to be a huge commitment, even a couple of minutes a day can impact positive change in your brain. A common mindfulness therapy practice is mindful breathing which involves noticing your inhales and exhales. When other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge and don’t judge them, then shift your awareness back to your breath.

3. Try any of the following meditation exercises:

  1. Box breathing: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and repeat.
  2. Body scan: Take a few deep breaths. Then bring your awareness to your toes, what do you notice? Then bring your awareness to your feet, and then your legs, and work your way up your entire body. Do you notice any areas of tension or pain? Bring your breath to those areas and have the energy of your breath release the tension.
  3. Engage your senses: Use all 5 senses to bring your awareness to the here-and-now.Notice something you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Slowly build your awareness of everything your senses are experiencing.
  4. Progressive muscle relaxation: Engage the muscles in your feet, making them as tense as you can. Then completely relax these muscles. Notice how much more relaxed your feet feel. Then, do the same thing with your legs. And then slowly work your way up the rest of your body, all the way to your face. We are often unconsciously tensing our muscles, this allows you to increase your awareness of what tense versus relaxed muscles feel like.
  5. Try a meditation app: These apps have exercises and techniques to help with learning to meditate. You can also find guided meditations wherever your stream music from.

4. Community:

Part of what creates consistency is accountability. When we show up in community spaces we find the joy of sharing practice with others. If your local yoga studio does not feel like a match, take the time to find a space you feel comfortable attending regularly with others. 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 therapy unfold in your life. Remember you can book a free 15-minute phone consultation with us to help you navigate this holistic therapy process.

Contact:

1407 Yonge Street, Unit 406
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 1Y7

 

Phone:  416.588.7546

Email:  info@thecohenclinic.com

Website: https://thecohenclinic.com/

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