Yoga for Acidity and Heartburns

Yogic management of acidity and heartburns includes use of Asana, pranayama and diet adjustments. Acidity has today become more of a life style problem because of our busy work schedule, mental stress and anxiety which goes with it. Acidity may be accompanied by related problems like heartburn and gas formation.

What Causes Acidity & Heartburn

Our digestive system digests food by secreting acids from the lining of the stomach. This happens naturally. Sometimes, the stomach produces more acid than it really requires. Due to this, one may feel a burning sensation just above the stomach or below the breastbone. This is the sign of acidity. A related problem is heartburn. Heartburns are caused by gastro oesophageal reflux. This can happen if the valve between the stomach and oesophagus becomes weak. This reflux can throw the undigested food to upper part of the food pipe and cause burning sensation, which is commonly termed as heartburn.

As you see, the cause is an imbalance in the digestive system. Yoga manages these imbalances by certain postures which massages and tones the digestive organs and brings back the stability and balance of the digestive system.

But before, we get to the yoga asanas, let us talk about our food habits, which may be a major cause for acidity. Eating irregular meals, eating excessive oily and fried food, taking alcohol, etc can create the imbalance in the digestive system, which leads to acidity. Food management is essential part of the cure for acidity. Here are few diet adjustments, that are suggested for acidity control:

  1. Avoid fatty, oil and fried food as much as possible. Packaged and processed oily food can cause acidity.
  2. Drink lots of water. This will help to flush out the acids and create good bowel movements to reduce gas.
  3. Include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet to create good bowel movements.
  4. Yogurt and buttermilk can help to neutralize the acid in the stomach. Consuming yogurt during lunch is advised.
  5. Avoid tea and coffee, as the caffeine rich beverages can cause acidity.
  6. Avoid food that is too spicy, especially those made with lot of chilies. But certain spices like clove, ginger and garlic are good for digestion and for reducing gas.
  7. Avoid alcohol and other intoxicants.

Yogic Management of Acidity and Heartburn

Apart from diet, certain Yoga asanas can help to tone the abdominal organs and improve the overall functioning of the digestive system. Performing these asanas can help to reduce acidity, heartburns and gas. Here are a few practices that are useful for acidity management:-

  1. Vajrasana or the Thunder bolt Pose. Usually all asanas are performed on an empty stomach. It is not recommended to do the yoga asanas immediately after a meal. But Vajrasana is an exception. In fact, Vajrasana should be done immediately after the meal to get its full benefit. To perform Vajrasana, sit straight on your knees, with your buttocks touching the heels. Keep your hands on the knees, with head straight. Concentrate on the natural breathing process. Remain in the position for 5 – 10 minutes. This asana increases the blood flow to the stomach and intestines and helps to digest food effectively, even if you have a weak digestive system.
  2. All backward and forward bending asanas are good for the digestive system as it tones the organs in the abdomen and makes them function optimally. Paschimotasana, Ustrasana, Makarasana, Matsyasana and Ardha Matyendrasana are recommended.
  3. Mayurasana is another asana which is excellent for removing all digestive disorders. It should be performed on an empty stomach. But this asana requires a bit of practice to master it. If you have difficulty in doing Mayurasana, then Hamsasana or the Swan Pose is a good alternative.
  4. Apart from asanas, pranayama can also help in releiving acidity. In many cases, acidity is triggered by anxiety and tension. Performing asanas and pranayama with awareness, gives a calm mind, free of tensions. Sheetali pranayama, Bhramari pranayama and Anulom Vilom pranayama (alternate breathing, without retention) are particularly good reducing stress and tension and hence indirectly helps to reduce acidity problems.

Thus we see that acidity and heartburn problems can be effectively managed using diet, asanas and pranayama.