If you experience acid reflux on a regular basis, then you’re already familiar with how it typically unfolds. It often starts with a burning sensation in your chest and the repeated urge to burp and let go of accumulated gas. There are lots of reasons why acid reflux occurs, including a number of lifestyle factors like poor diet and emotional stress. Thankfully, yoga can help manage symptoms and reduce episodes if they are stress-related.
One of the ways that yoga helps reduce acid reflux is by reducing stress and anxiety. These are the common culprits for acid reflux, because they cause your body to engage in a cascade of fight/flight/freeze responses that includes increased production of stomach acid. By reducing your stress and anxiety, you can help your body avoid switching on that fight/flight/freeze response.
Another way that yoga can reduce acid reflux is through improving your posture and alignment. Poor posture can contribute to chronic acid reflux by placing too much pressure on your stomach and esophagus. Yoga postures that correct your alignment — like Downward Facing Dog and Standing Forward Fold — help relieve this pressure and prevent the onset of acid reflux. It’s important to note that in order to truly improve your posture, you need to practice these poses regularly and for the long term – over time they can help reduce your risk of developing acid reflux in the first place.
Yoga can also help regulate your digestive system, which is another factor that contributes to acidity. When food gets stuck in your digestive tract, it can cause gas and bloating, slowing your entire digestive system down, which eventually manifests in your stomach with an acidic reaction. By stimulating your digestive system, you can help your body move and process food smoothly through your digestive tract without gas, bloating, or acidity.
One of the most important ways yoga can help prevent acid reflux is by strengthening your diaphragm, which is the muscle that prevents acid from moving up into your esophagus. When the diaphragm is weak or tense, it can actually allow acid reflux to rise up from your stomach and push its way into your esophagus, which is what causes that uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest. Yoga postures that promote diaphragmatic breathing, such as Seated Forward Fold and Corpse pose can help strengthen this muscle and prevent acid reflux.
In order to get the most benefit from practicing yoga for acid reflux, it’s recommended that you develop a regular routine that involves performing yoga at least 3-4 times per week for 6-9 months. This isn’t a quick fix, but with a long term commitment you can reduce the onset of acid reflux and improve your overall quality of life.
The poses below are basic, primary yoga poses you can practice in your very own home. If you’re unsure how to practice the postures, or you’d like some professional guidance, try working with one of our certified yoga instructors at MyYogaTeacher.
Start by standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip distance apart. Balance your weight evenly on both feet. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides, with your spine straight and your chest lifted. Your gaze should be focused straight ahead of you while you breathe easily and gently. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes.
Stand at the front of your mat, feet hip distance apart. Exhale and bend forward from the waist, with your knees slightly bent and touching your hands to the floor in front of your feet. Inhale and exhale, allowing your torso to extend without rounding your back. Lengthen and soften your neck, and let the muscles of your thighs and lower back open and release any built-up tension. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes.
With your hands and knees on the floor, push your hips upward until you are balancing on your hands and feet, and your body resembles an inverted “v” shape. Reach your heels toward the floor, stretching your hamstrings and activating your thighs. Keep your head between your arms, lengthening your side-body as you stretch. Stay here for several breaths.
Sitting with your knees bent and your feet tucked in next to your left butt cheek, inhale with your spine straight, lifting your chest. As you exhale, rotate your torso to your right. Position your right hand on the floor just slightly behind you, and rest your left hand on your right knee. On your next breath, rotate a little more as you exhale, turning your head to look over your right shoulder. Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Inhale and look up, lifting your chin and gently arching your back. As you exhale, drop your chin and look down toward your naval as you curl your spine forward. Continue this movement 5-10 times.
Start on your hands and knees and then lower yourself down so that your backside is resting on your heels, and your big toes are touching each other. Move your hands forward, palms down, so that your forehead is resting on the floor. Allow your spine to lengthen and your neck muscles to fully relax. Breathe deeply and mindfully while staying in this pose for 5-6 minutes.
Start by sitting on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Come onto your sit bones and inhale with a straight spine. Raise your arms over your head and as you exhale, begin to bend forward by hinging at your waist. Slowly lower your torso toward the tops of your legs, allowing your spine to curve forward as you reach your legs. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
Sit on your yoga mat and lower your body to the floor, relaxing your legs and letting your arms rest on the floor at your sides, palms up. Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. Relax the muscles in your face and neck, and visualize every part of your body letting go of all tension. Hold this pose for 5-7 minutes.
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