Did you know that our senses are directly linked to our digestion?
Scientifically speaking, digestion starts in the mouth. However to fully understand how yoga can help digestion, let’s go beyond that traditional thinking. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell works together to stimulate our digestion and literally get our juices going. Our senses play a much bigger role in digestion than we realize. Given this, it is no wonder that if we eat when we are stressed or when we lack an appetite, food often sticks around, leaving us feeling lethargic and heavy. Do that too many times in a row and your bowels become a toxic wasteland for whatever crosses your lips.
The practice of yoga has many benefits. Among them is the ability to create awareness in the mind and body. When practicing yoga, we tap into the body by using the senses to create an intuitive knowledge of what is happening within. Too often, we tune out this inner listening and let our monkey minds run rampant, giving our attention to too much TV, food, social media, texting, and all of the other distractions that plague our daily lives. Yoga gets us out of the monkey mind and in to the present moment. If we are too distracted to be mindful of what we eat, we can’t expect our body to be mindful of healthy digestion.
Try practicing the following tips to experience how yoga can help digestion by tuning into your senses and help get your gut feeling great!
Delay the Response Time. The next time you find yourself reaching for a snack, stop and take three deep breaths (and make ‘em good!). Then ask yourself, “Is it necessary? Do I need it?” Give yourself another three breaths before coming up with an answer. In fact, forget about an answer—that’s right, fuhgeddaboutit baby. Instead, create space around your craving and allow your senses to guide you to what your need, rather than those pesky monkeys in your mind.
Don’t Force Feed the Belly. Without even going into what it means to eat well, I can safely say that no good will come of eating when you’re not hungry or when food doesn’t look appetizing. If the senses are responsible for stimulating digestion, then common sense says we should only eat when food looks, smells, and tastes good. When you eat just to eat, you’re doing yourself and your digestion a great disservice.
Be Still and Be Grateful. This is one of my favorite ways to practice presence. Practicing presence allows us to be more mindful about our choices, including our food. When you stop and think about it, we have everything need at any given moment, but too often we convince ourselves otherwise. Practicing a little gratitude for all that you have may help you stop and “smell the roses,” as well as what’s for dinner.
How do you tune in to your senses? What’s your go-to practice for mindfulness? Share your thoughts in the comments below.