Acidity ailments, like heartburn and acid reflux, affect people all over the world, and it can be difficult to manage these painful symptoms with over-the-counter medications and the like.
Heartburn, also called acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the burning sensation in the chest caused by stomach acid flowing back up through the esophagus, usually after eating or drinking.
Yoga treatment for heartburn
Yoga has been used to treat and control heartburn, as well as other symptoms of gastric and gastroesophageal disorders (such as indigestion, diarrhea, bloating).
It’s important to treat acidity ailments with the proper care and attention because they can be an indicator of health problems in the future.
One helpful way to manage these ailments, as well as other acid reflux symptoms like heartburn, is through yoga.
This article explains how yoga can help to reduce heartburn and improve your health.
Factors that contribute to acidity and heartburn
There are many possible triggers of acidity and heartburn. Anything that narrows your esophagus (food, beverages, or medicine) can irritate it.
- Severe heartburn is often caused by stomach ulcers, but most cases are not.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be caused by low production of stomach acid and is thought to be promoted by obesity.
- Consuming large meals and eating late at night also promote GERD because they reduce natural muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract which help prevent gastric juices from backing up into the esophagus.
- It’s important to understand any underlying health conditions such as allergies and diabetes before treating symptoms like acidity and heartburn with dietary changes or medications.
Acidity and heartburn symptoms
The common symptoms of heartburn or acidity are a burning sensation in your chest, and often in your throat or mouth as well. You may also experience a sour taste or an acidy taste. Other symptoms include regurgitation of food that you have eaten, bad breath, and nausea. The pain is usually felt behind or below your breastbone. It can be aggravated by lying down, bending over or by certain foods such as cheese, chocolate, greasy foods, and alcohol.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that causes burning sensation and pain in the chest, especially after consuming a meal. The exact cause of acid reflux or heartburn is not clear but physicians believe that it may be due to failure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to close properly.
Acid reflux and heartburn treatment with yoga
Yoga offers a number of acid reflux and heartburn management solutions, including deep breathing exercises that can help soothe an acid reflux flare-up. Simply take a few moments to slow down and focus on your breathing, consciously slowing it as you begin to relax; studies show that by decreasing your heart rate in tandem with your breath rate, you can help alleviate some of the symptoms of acid reflux. Here are some yogic techniques that can ease and treat acid reflux:
Yogic techniques for managing acidity
- Breathing techniques like Ujjayi
- Balance poses like Vrikshasana and Trikonasana
- Forward bend pose (Paschimottanasana)
- Halasana (Plow/Plough Pose)
- Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose, or Diamond Pose)
1). Breathing exercises
There are many types of breathing exercises that can be practiced to manage heartburn and acidity. Ujjayi (Victorious Breath) is a type of deep belly breathing that can be used to bring yourself into a meditative state. There are several variations of ujjayi, but it is commonly done in the below-stated way:
- Place your tongue against your palate or slightly behind your teeth while breathing deeply through your nose, allowing air to pass over and around your tongue with a slight whooshing sound.
2). Balance poses
Try balancing poses such as Tree pose (Vrksasana) and Triangle pose (Trikonasana). Do them after meals, because that’s when you’re most likely to feel heartburn flare-ups. As a bonus, these poses will tone your triceps and abs.
To do Tree pose:
- Stand with feet together and hands at your sides.
- Step one foot forward so it is in line with your ankle; keep your knee pointed down.
- Lower your hands to chest height.
3). Forward bend pose (Paschimottanasana)
Forward bends are a gentle stretch for your lower back, especially helpful if you have acid reflux and heartburn symptoms. If you suffer from indigestion or acid reflux, forward bending can help alleviate some of these symptoms as it stimulates an enzyme that helps neutralize stomach acids. Paschimottanasana is one of the yoga poses that aid in heartburn and acid reflux.
4). Halasana (Plow/Plough Pose)
Practice Halasana (Plow Pose) on your yoga mat to calm heartburn and help manage acidity. Halasana stretches and strengthens your entire body while also calming your mind and spirit. If you’re dealing with heartburn, give Plow Pose a try.
- Start in a seated position, with your feet slightly apart and knees bent so that thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Lean back slightly, keeping hips in line with shoulders, until you feel the tension in hamstrings or calves.
- Close eyes and breath deeply for 5-10 minutes before rolling over gently to one side; repeat twice more before lying down completely flat.
Note: Avoid sleeping in Halasana if you suffer from high blood pressure or other medical conditions.
5). Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose, or Diamond Pose)
This asana should be done twice a day. To do it, sit on your heels with your toes tucked under and knees spread wide. Rest your palms facing upwards on your knees, or clasp them behind you. Keep your eyes closed and your forehead relaxed in order to calm down.
- Inhale deeply while slowly raising both hands up and out to shoulder height so that they are in line with your ears, palms facing each other.
- Hold for five seconds, then exhale deeply as you bring them back down to waist level. Repeat 5-10 times.
- The inhaled breath should be drawn in steadily and smoothly.
If performed correctly, Vajrasana is said to improve digestion, relieve constipation and provide relief from heartburn, acidity disorders, and hiatal hernia.
Other effective yoga for heartburn and acidity:
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist pose)
- Pavanamuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose)
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Other ways for acidity and heartburn relief
Here are some home remedies that can help to reduce the symptoms of acidity and heartburn:
- Sleep on your left side
- Use a wedge to elevate your upper body
- Eat dinner at the right time
- Avoid eating raw vegetables at dinner time eg: Have cooked onions instead of raw
- Don't keep a big time gap between meals. Eat meals frequently.
- Stay physically active
- Try to avoid alcohol
- Limit carbonated drinks
Foods to avoid in case of acidity
What you eat matters and affects how much acid your stomach can produce. Eating the right kinds of food is an important step you should take to manage acidity or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- High-fat food (Oily and greasy food)
- Citrus food (lemon, pineapple, tomatoes)
- Raw garlic and onions
- Spicy food
Studies show that heartburn and acid reflux are caused by muscle spasms in your esophagus—and, hey, guess what you have lots of control over? Flexibility in your muscles! If you’re experiencing issues with acid reflux and other symptoms related to stomach acids, it might be time to invest in a yoga routine. The poses below will help increase your flexibility and ease up on muscle spasms—helping you manage heartburn naturally.