Have you had this happen to you? Your teacher brings you into a nice restful Shavasana at the end of class and just as the class starts to fall silent your stomach starts to make a noise SO LOUD you are sure someone in the next town over could hear it??! You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last! So let’s talk about why this is actually a REALLY GOOD THING.
In the scenario above you may be totally embarrassed and thinking “Everyone is trying to rest and I’m over here making all this noise I can’t control. GEEZ!”. Maybe you even throw your hands over the seeming source of the sound or grab a prop to try and muffle it. I’ve seen it happen more than once. But here’s the thing, you should actually be celebrating this sound. It means that your digestive system is working well!
A quick google search shows that about 74% of Americans deal with some form of digestive distress every day. That’s an insanely high number! Causes may vary, but one of the great things about a consistent yoga practice is that it can also help to bring more ease to your digestion.
Just as the muscles in your shoulders may feel less tense and more relaxed after your practice, there are muscles along the digestive tract that can hold tension too. Many of these muscles are involuntary muscles. You can’t control them just by thinking about them. You can’t say “hey muscles along the 3rd meter of the intestines, contract NOW!” to move your food along. So how can yoga help?
The muscles along the digestive tract are controlled in part by the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is often referred to as the “rest and digest” system for a reason. When this system is working well, digestive functions will happen more efficiently. So that feeling of relaxation and ease you find at the end of a great yoga practice is actually helping this system to relax where needed and function more optimally, thereby allowing digestion to work better.
Which means things might move along a bit better. Which might mean some sounds of movement, like that big gurgle you had during Shavasana, might happen as well. And that’s a really good thing given the statistic above!
So the next time your tummy makes some noise during your yoga class, just smile! You’re on your way to better digestion! And that can only make your mind, body and spirit feel that much better.