Do you trust your GUT?

by Renee’ Fulkerson

We are always looking for an external sign (including myself) to solidify our answer to whatever question is at hand.

Lately I have been pondering alone and with students in YogAlign class the idea and simplicity of trusting our own gut. Literally trusting our own guts aka internal organs.

Which brings me to a recent topic that was brought up by founder of YogAlign Michaelle Edwards. “Do any of you feel there is a difference between yoga pose alignment and postural alignment”? The above question sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts and research before I could answer the question.

The obvious answer to me was yes I do see a difference between the two. Yoga pose alignment is taught to you and postural alignment is programmed in your brain etc. Having said that Yoga poses taught to a student feel external (judgment and opinions from outside yourself) where as postural alignment comes from within be it programmed (a habit) you have your own judgment and opinion.

I started thinking about how the external and internal judgement affects us be it in our yoga class or pose and how we see ourselves our body image in general. How a yoga practice can support us in letting go of our own judgment (ironic).

I then started thinking about body images and body shapers aka Spanx or corset. I personally have never worn a body shaper myself and do not judge others if they have however, this topic too goes back to trusting our guts. From my research on body shapers men and women alike wear them under their garments for many reasons however, lets face it mostly for vanity.

Body shaper enthusiasts have written about the pros and cons of wearing this type of garment. Some say how they feel more confident, sexy and are made aware of their bad posture habits and adjust themselves accordingly or rely on the garment to keep them in proper posture. Others say the garment felt okay at first but by the end of the day it has cut into their skin, cut off circulation and they cannot imagine another minute in the garment. One comment in particular caught my attention I quote “3. Pro: I’m aware! Because I’m being held in I am naturally holding myself more upright. I consistently think about contracting my core–giving myself a subtle abdominal workout ALL. DAY. LONG! My posture is more erect”.

This is where the GUT comes in aka internal organs brains, lungs, liver, bladder, kidneys, heart, stomach and intestines. The obvious answers delivered directly to us from our guts is simply comfort or discomfort. Michaelle Edwards founder of YogAlign goes on to ask what is a correct pose? To which I give my two cents “I want the body to move as nature intended. “Everything thing has a place and everything is in its place”. Bones properly aligned which then allows muscles, joints and ligaments to follow and preform as intended. Allowing space for the vital organs to function properly keeps the nervous system happy – resulting in creating a sustainable body.

If you guts aren’t happy it cannot possibly be the correct pose. Which brings me back to the body shapers if your guts are not happy it cannot possibly create favorable conditions for your mind, spirit or body. The most likely bodily response you are going to achieve from holding your core in all day is exhaustion. Exhaustion of the sympathetic nervous system responding to the squeezing of your guts triggering the fight or flight response. Not to mention relying on a body shaper to keep you in good posture is counter productive as well as an illusion.

Bringing me to my conclusion trusting our GUT is the bodies way of communicating its yay or nay answer with comfort or discomfort. As my teacher always says “you are never going to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. See you on the mat.

More & More Young People Are Getting Arthritis: Here’s What You Can Do

By Susan Blum, M.D., MPH

Think arthritis only affects the elderly? Think again. By 2030, an estimated 580 million people worldwide, ages 18 and older, will have been diagnosed with the disease. Pretty eye-opening, right?

Conventional medicine tends to treat arthritis with strong, immune-suppressing medications that temporarily relieve the symptoms of the disease. Unfortunately, I’ve seen how these medications can also damage your gut and how they fail to truly address the root cause of the issue. This World Arthritis Day, it’s time to make a change. I’m here to tell you that there’s another way—a way that’s designed to address the underlying causes—in order to reduce inflammation without medication. Here’s how:

1. You can treat all kinds of arthritis with one approach.

There are more than a dozen different kinds of arthritis, and while there are certainly differences in conventional understanding and treatment for each one, they all have common root causes and triggers for inflammation and pain. For example, the two most common diagnoses are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). While RA is considered an inflammatory (autoimmune) disease and OA is typically thought of as the result of “wear and tear” and injury to the joint, both of these conditions are influenced by lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. No matter what kind of arthritis you have, it’s important to know that it can be made worse by inflammation that starts elsewhere in the body, including the gut. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Heal the gut, and you heal the joints.

You may have heard some talk about gut health—and the gut-brain connection or the gut-pain connection—and you’ve probably heard the word “microbiome,” or the friendly bacteria in your body. Fascinating studies have confirmed that the root cause of your arthritis is most likely lurking in your digestive system, so to heal your joints, you must first heal your gut. But where do you start? The best first step is to take a probiotic daily to help remove the harmful microbes that might be causing your symptoms, but some require a more intensive plan.

3. Treat your terrain with inflammation-fighting foods.

A fresh start for your microbiome means a new chance to influence your “terrain,” or what I think of as the body’s deepest soil, where cells either thrive or wither. There’s a strong connection between your diet, your gut microbiome, and your pain level, so I recommend choosing foods that fight inflammation like organic plants and foods high in fiber and healthy fats, while avoiding refined sugars, dairy products, and red meats. Here are some of my guiding principles:

Increase fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients, or, in less-scary terms, eat more vegetables and fruits, and choose organic whenever possible.

Reduce refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and refined grains.

Improve the quality of fat by removing refined oils and hydrogenated fats.

Improve the quality of the animal protein you eat by choosing 100 percent grass-fed and finished beef, free-range chicken, and sustainably farmed, low-mercury fish.

Limit salt, food dyes, and preservatives (which happens naturally when you limit processed foods).

4. Carve out time for daily stress-reduction activities.

Traumatic events and ongoing stress are very real triggers for inflammatory diseases. In our go-go-go world, we’re always rushing; we can’t miss this deadline or that meeting, and we very rarely take the time to sit back, relax, and let our minds reset. Diet and stress are two root causes of a damaged gut, inflammation, and chronic disease, so it’s no surprise that in order to heal your arthritis naturally, you must take time to practice your favorite stress reduction activities daily. I recommend meditation, yoga, long walks through nature, and journaling to ease the mind.