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Asana/Anatomy Focus

The Third Chakra: Gut Instinct

The belly brain within the third chakra, called the enteric nervous system, has the capacity to process independent of the cranial brain, yet its capacity to self-regulate is not fully understood by experts in the field of gastroenterology. Yet we know that the gut operates at times without direct signaling from the central nervous system. Michael Gershon, in his book The Second Brain, describes the uniqueness of the belly brain:

The enteric nervous system can, when it chooses, process data its sensory receptors pick up all by themselves, and it can act on the basis of those data to activate a set of effectors that it alone controls. The enteric nervous system is thus not a slave of the brain but a contrarian, independent spirit…. It is a rebel, the only element of the peripheral nervous system that can elect not to do the bidding of the brain or spinal cord.

In many regards, we are only vaguely aware of the intelligence of the belly brain. Its regulatory function occupies a kind of remote place in our field of sensitivity, yet we have numerous references in the language that point to it, such as expressions like “gut instinct,” “gut reaction,” and “spill your guts.”

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