Curious minds want to know.
Those that know me in real life have been saying to me “you look skinny; have you lost weight?” When I tell them that yoga and acupuncture helped me lose the extra pounds, they look at me perplexed.
I think it’s confusing because most people think that losing weight can only be done through sweating at the gym for at least an hour every day. How can stretching and needles help promote weight loss?
Curious, I had the same questions, so I asked the experts in my personal self-care team.
From my acupuncturist Rebecca, I learned that stress imbalances the digestive system which surprising to me, houses 200 million neurons in the intestine wall helping to digest food. According to this article, our enteric nervous system (also called our gut brain), are in constant conversation through the vagus nerve using serotonin as the neurotransmitter; two things I learned about in my beginning yoga class.
Serotonin working on the nerves in the upper brain signals wellbeing. Serotonin working on the nerves in the gut sets the pace of digestion and regulates the immune system. The majority of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut and released into the brain on its journey to the hypothalamus, which regulates emotions in a complex manner. Therefore, when my gut is out of balance, the serotonin levels are also out of balance creating my digestion difficulties.
Wow! I think to myself. Ancient wisdom explained scientifically using the anatomy terms I’m familiar with.
I noticed that when my acupuncturist would work on my digestion imbalances, the tension in my neck and back muscles release. Also it’s easier for me to let go of stress and worries when yoga class begins when my digestive system is in balance. And in yoga class, when we practice gut breathing (diaphragmatic breathing), I instantly relax because the breath practice soothes my digestive system.
So why do I love acupuncture and yoga? No, not because I lost weight. I love yoga and acupuncture because these ancient practices have opened the door to scientific self-exploration proving that there’s more behind yoga and acupuncture than esoteric philosophy. Real organs and nerves are activated in each well thought out needle placement and correctly activated yoga posture. Also, each discipline creates observable, biological changes in my body that I can experiment with. And as a self-proclaimed nerd, I find it fun being my own guinea pig to experiment on. Yoga and acupuncture are just two more stress reducing methods for me to geek out over in my journey to living a happier, healthier more fulfilling life.