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Digestion & Stress: Balancing The Scales

Did you know that one of the biggest obstacles our digestive system faces is our own stress? Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which essentially tenses up our bodies and makes it more difficult for ‘unessential’ systems to do their work efficiently. As far as the digestive system goes, this means that when we’re stressed, we’re much more likely to experience things like indigestion, heartburn, and bloating.

In addition, research has found that increased cortisol levels can also negatively affect gut health – in essence, it throws the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria out of order. Since 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, an imbalance in the diverse bacterial ecosystem there can lead to significant issues in immunity.

Meditation as a practice is excellent in lowering stress levels. One study found that mindfulness meditation significantly reduced cortisol levels in their test group, indicating that meditation could be used in tandem with traditional treatment to reduce cortisol-related health issues.

One of the best techniques to reduce stress-induced digestive issues is through physical movement, in order to simultaneously open up the body and lower stress levels. Digestive mudra, specifically, is a kind of meditation designed to ease stress as well as open up the digestive system through a series of symbolic moving hand gestures.

Mindfulness is, of course, a large part of its effectiveness. Being present during meditation is very important in reducing stress and ending the session feeling relaxed & rejuvenated. Digestion can be a delicate process, but mudra is a great, scientifically sound way to relax the body and help ease the process along.

Check out our Digestive Mudra class to learn more & get started on your personal wellness journey!


Mayo Clinic. “Chronic Stress Puts Your Health At Risk” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037#:~:text=Cortisol%2C%20the%20primary%20stress%20hormone,fight%2Dor%2Dflight%20situation.

Starkel Nutrition. “Stress, Cortisol, and the Digestive System” https://www.starkelnutrition.com/2019/stress-cortisol-digestive-system/

National Library of Medicine. “Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23724462/UCLA Health. “If you want to  boost immunity, look to the gut” https://connect.uclahealth.org/2021/03/19/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut/