In her book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health, Charlotte Watts explains the connections between how we move, how we feel and the deep mind-body connections with digestive conditions. Here she explains how any form of conscious movement has the potential for unravelling the loss of internal movement and stress in tissues that play such deep roles in conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis.
Five key digestive factors can be affected by trauma, chronic stress, sedentary habits and postural issues, and in turn relieved by some simple movements:
- Gut motility
Action throughout the whole digestive tract relies on peristalsis, a wave-like, spiralling muscular motion. This is the basis for ‘gut motility’, that if seized, interrupted or spasmodic, can be the basis for many digestive issues. The speeding up or slowing down of gut motility is a feature of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) where a go-slow means...
January is a time of new beginnings and even recalibration – taking stock of the aspects of our lives where we go awry and find ourselves going round and round in circles.
So much of where we can get stuck is based on old survival strategies learnt in early childhood and listening to these inner voices of what we need to feel safe and secure is a key part of moving through life in a stress-free way.
The more we can let ourselves off the hook of expectation and recognise our true needs, the less self-judgment we need to throw up and the kinder we can be to ourselves.
This is the stuff that can help us be free our reactions and behaviours that we might be fed up with with; turning to sugar or alcohol when we’re stressed, arguing with our partner or feeling a mental and physical exhaustion that stops us from exercising in the way we’d like.
For instance, my ‘resolutions’ last year were:
1. Notice when I’m close to or have become overwhelmed and...
"With Christmas comes the onslaught of brightly coloured wrappers and decorated boxes adorning chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For some, this represents dietary abandon with the resolution to bring it all round in the New Year.
But some of us have had enough of that swing and prefer not to feel like we’re lurching from a sugared-up state that leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated and, well, a bit dirty, to somehow suddenly having the willpower to give it all up come Hogmanay. So let’s unpick some of those Christmas habits in order to maybe evolve some healthier ones...
While original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the third round of mince pies of the day, you can receive sideway glances that make you feel like you’re Scrooge.
Personally, a few...
Whilst original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the coming deep winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the stollen cake, you can receive a sideways glance that makes you feel like you’re Scrooge.
Personally, a few years back I reached the limit of feeling like c*&p after each Christmas Day finally arrived – sluggish, head-achy, tetchy and with raging sugar cravings – and longing for when all the so-called ‘Christmas food’ was finally gone. I have a tendency to want to hoover up sugar just to get it out of the way, so this can seem endless with so much around!
For those of us with sugar-addictive tendencies, constantly having it around can be a major source of stress.
Many of my clients get pretty agitated going to meetings where there are always biscuits and the...
With so much emphasis on what to eat, the how can get rather left behind, but the full process of digestion – breaking down and absorbing food – demands as much calm and mindfulness as any aspect of our yoga practice. When this is compromised, partially digested food in the gut can cause gas, bloating and contribute to IBS symptoms.
Time, stress and habit often see us bolting food or eating on the go without much thought. Optimal digestion needs energy resources fully directed to the gut and any movement quickly reroutes it out to the muscle; including just standing and using postural muscles. Stress also sends a signal to prepare for protective physical movement and again, muscle wins out. We feel a tense body, often including gripping and tightness in the belly as digestive processes are halted. Our digestive tract has nervous system activity of its own and you really can trust ‘gut feelings’ as a measure of stress.
It is the parasympathetic or calming and...