Who has frequent belly aches, bloating or gas, or irregular bowel movements? It’s ok to admit it because digestive disorders are widespread. I was diagnosed when I was a young kid. For more than 50 years I’ve calmed my belly aches through diet, meditation, breathwork, and bodywork.
More than ten years ago, during my yoga therapy training, we were encouraged to find areas of specialization. I narrow focused my research and practice on what was a major concern for me and more than 40 percent of people worldwide: functional gastrointestinal disorders. A few years later, I designed Gutsy Yoga. I’ve led this series of signature workshops in Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. On July 9, I bring my “new and improved” 90-minute Gutsy Yoga session to Serasana/Belterra, just outside of Austin.
My 2023 version incorporates lessons from my Ayurvedic teacher in India, one of the 12 gurus featured in my book, “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram: Wisdom for the Body, Mind and Spirit.”
The upcoming session includes discussion, breathwork, acupressure, and movement designed to “light your fire*.” As explained in “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram," the digestive “fire” (agni) is responsible not only for physical well-being but emotional health as well.
Even the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, supposedly said: “All disease begins in the gut.” Yet, for thousands of years Ayurvedic wisdom has stated the importance of digestive health. Ayurveda professes that all physical and most mental disorders originate in the gut. As just one example, “Unhealthy eating habits are the root cause of major and minor imbalances and diseases,” says Dr. Vishnu who runs the Ayurvedic Institute at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, India.
The concept of the gut microbiome is relatively new. But it mirrors what Hippocrates and the Ayurvedic sages said. According to Dr. Joseph Weiss, a gastroenterologist, and professor at the University of Southern California, “95 percent of the human immune system is localized to the gut. Every illness is found to originate in the gut.”
Our rational minds can understand that our tummies are the central processor of whatever we swallow. If that engine is well-oiled, no problem. But when there are kinks and roadblocks or unnatural acceleration in your innards, the bedlam goes beyond the belly.
Ayurveda teaches us the importance of a dinacharya, a well-established daily routine. In fact, as a yoga therapist, I often say my role is more of a holistic lifestyle coach. Gutsy yoga offers ideas of what, when, and how to eat and drink. As part of the workshop, I’ll showcase and serve my DIY herbal tea which is beneficial for everyone.
Given the mind/body connection, it’s not just about diet. Fifty years ago my gastroenterologist told me a major trigger was stress.
While I don’t think my childhood was wrought with stress, everyone—and every body—responds differently.
Unfortunately, most Westerners lead stressful lives. How often do you eat a slow-paced family meal? Do you tend to work late, come home stressed, pop dinner into the microwave, call for pizza delivery, or head to the drive-thru on your way home?
It’s far better to relish a leisurely home-cooked meal made from fresh organic food sources surrounded by loved ones.
*The physical movement includes deep forward folds and twists, not recommended for pregnant women or anyone with spinal fusions.