The second brain

Butterflies, gut feelings, gut instinct, gutsy, gut reaction, listen to your gut, that takes guts – our gut definitely seems to have a will of its own. In fact it is considered to be the ‘second brain’. The enteric nervous system of our digestive system does much more than just process our food – it absorbs nutrition and distributes it throughout the body; removes toxins from our system; 80% of our immune system is located in the gut and 95% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the bowels.

Gut health also has a strong link to our moods and emotional well-being. Stress leads to gut issues and similarly gut issues lead to stress. Scientists are exploring the link between optimum gut health and emotional well-being. Research is also being done into incorporating gut health into therapy for conditions such as anxiety and depression.

A balanced gut helps balance our emotions. So how do we balance our guts? Through good food and listening to how different foods make you feel; incorporating some movement into everyday and stress management.

Yoga promotes good gut health by stretching and compressing the whole digestive system. Yoga is also known to reduce stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system through breath awareness; slow mindful movement and repetitive flows which allows the mind to quieten.

Backends compress the digestive system bringing fresh blood flow – for cell regeneration, boosting the immune system, stimulating the nerve ends of the enteric nervous system. Click this link to get a full list of backbends.

Twists massage the digestive system aiding maximum nutrition absorption and toxin elimination. In yoga we twist to the right first to stimulate the ascending colon first, twisting to the left after, to stimulate the descending colon – aiding regular elimination and toxin removal from the body. Click this link to get a full list of twists.

Click on the sequence above to support your the second brain of the enteric nervous system and explore the effect it has on your mood. Try the Immune System Boost sequence to keep you fighting fit through the winter months and the Stress Relief sequence which also incorporates some twists and backbends.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru