by Jodh Kaur
Stress can manifest in many ways from anxiously sitting in traffic knowing you will be late to an appointment, to having an argument, to paying bills, to caring for a family member or friend who is ill. These stressful events impact your gut beyond feeling sick to your stomach, nauseous or having diarrhea.
Stress hinders the nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve which is the main highway for communication between the brain and the gut. In addition, this nerve communicates with the diaphragm, helps decrease inflammation in the body, works to lower blood pressure and heart rate and helps us manage and recover from stressful and frightening events. When this crucial nerve is inhibited by stress it impacts what is happening in the gut, triggering inflammation and encouraging the growth of unfavorable bacteria which disrupts the balance of the microbiome. Conversely, stress can work in the reverse where the microbes in the gut interfere with signals to the brain creating a prolonged emotional response to the stressful event.
The good news is we have a tool that directly impacts this stress response: the breath, specifically yogic breath, and as Savitree recently wrote, your breath is your #1 ally. It is an important yet simple, natural and readily available tool that benefits us in so many ways. For example, when we engage in proper yogic breathing, we stimulate the vagus nerve which calms and soothes the nervous system and improves digestive functioning. In Kundalini Yoga, we regularly practice Breath of Fire which rapidly stimulates the vagus nerve. This powerful breath helps strengthen the nervous system, calm the mind and improve mental focus and digestion with only a few minutes of practice.
The Energizer Series uses Breath of Fire in a series of 3 exercises that can be completed in just 3 minutes. Practice this daily for 40 days to strengthen your navel point (home to digestion and your personal power), to connect powerfully into your breath, to stimulate your vagus nerve and develop a calm and focused mind.
Start today, and in 40 days, let us know how you feel. Three minutes a day is a wonderful way to create a daily practice which will help you build resilience and digest your life experiences in real time.
Kundalini Yoga Quotes:
“I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.” -Marika Bethel, owner, Glowing House