The state of our collective gut health is shocking in our modern world of over indulgence and disconnection to the body. Reflux Acidity is just another form of digestive discomfort that many have chalked up as being a normal consequence of ‘treating’ ourselves with food, drinks and other bad habits, that ultimately are wreaking havoc on our gastrointestinal health.
Most, if not ALL disease, starts in the gut so it is crucial that we take these symptoms of malfunctioning seriously and make changes to both our diet and lifestyle. We want to keep our food clean and our stress levels down. Yoga is one means of cultivating a calm state of mind that will allow the body to be more efficient when it comes to digesting our foods. When we are less stressed, we are better able to settle into a state of rest and digest which means that the body can exert more energy on processes like digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
This article is going to set you up with the tools needed to combat against digestive disturbances like reflux acidity and indigestion so that you have an alternative to over the counter drugs and a means of keeping stress and discomfort at bay.
Acid reflux and heartburn is an uncomfortable burning sensation inside of the chest, that is caused by an overflow of acid as it moves from the stomach up and into the oesophagus. It is uncomfortable at best, but in more severe cases it can last for hours and can make it painful to even breathe. If heartburn is chronic (lasting more than two weeks), it is often diagnosed as GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and the most common forms of treatment are over the counter medications. The aim of this article is to provide you with a simple, gentle and more holistic means of intervention and support.
TRAINING TYPE: FLOW SEQUENCE
PLANNED TIME:10-15 MINUTES
Yoga for Reflux Acidity and Indigestion
Studies of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), have found that gentle yoga can help to reduce stress and massage the internal organs in order to promote better digestive functioning and less symptoms of GERD and indigestion. You also want to avoid lying down straight after meals and to limit foods that are excessively salty, oily or spicy.
Try these simple postures and connect to the breath and body in order to come out of the mind and away from illusory stressful stories.
Exercise for Acid Reflux
If you are experiencing acid reflux you are going to want to avoid any intense exercise, BUT you do want to move and stretch the body in a way that is conducive to creating space and fluidity for the acids to move through. Yoga is the perfect practice when you are suffering and this short video will introduce you to gentle poses that offer an alternative and gentle means of intervention.
Infographic: Yoga For Reflux Acidity
Upward Salute Pose - Urdhva Hastasana
Bring the legs hip width distance apart with the feet and toes facing forward. Root down through the heels and activate the thighs by lifting up through the knee caps. Draw the lower belly in to lengthen the back of the spine and reach the hands up towards the sky. Relax the shoulders down away from the ears and bring the gaze up.
Use this Mountain Pose variation to focus on lengthening the rib cage, spine and the internal organs as your take deep breaths. For this sequence, you are going to grab for the left wrist with the right hand to come into a side body stretch. Inhale to reach up higher and then drop your left hand over towards the right side of the body, send the hips towards the left and rotate the chest open towards the sky. Use the breath to inhale to lengthen the side body and exhale, finding some extra depth here. Breathing in deeply, and exhaling completely. Come back through center and switch sides.
Continue to engage the abdomen and take conscious breaths to help reduce stress and anxiety that is is going to help to ease acid reflux in the stomach.
Tree Pose - Vrikshasana
Root down through the right foot and heel and then bring the left sole of the foot in to meet your right ankle, calf or thigh. If you need more support, it is fine to have the toes down on the mat for extra balance. Bring the hands to heart center and push the palms in towards one another. Open the hips by drawing the left knee back and pick one point to focus. Draw the chin towards the chest to lengthen the spine.
Lord of the Dance Pose - Natarajasana
Continue standing on the right leg and kick the left leg up behind you. Grab the inside of the left foot or ankle and then bring the knees together. Extend the right hand up towards the sky and as you inhale start to hinge at the hips and bring the chest forward. Continue to kick the left foot into the hand and stretch with the right hand. Equal force in the kick back and stretch forward.
Actively kicking and stretching is going to help balance you in this pose and as you open up the chest and lengthen the stomach, you will be encouraging the movement and removal of any acidity that has built up inside of the body.
Tree Pose - Vrikshasana
Taking Tree Pose to the other side now, so rooting down through the left foot to create a strong, stable base. Lift the right leg up and bring the sole of the foot in to meet the thigh, calf or the ankle and ground.
Bring the hands to heart center and draw the right knee open and back to open the hips. Keep the hips squaring towards the front. Actively press the palms together and lengthen through the spine to find balance.
I recommend taking the right foot to the same place on the left leg, as you did on the other side to help establish balance between the yin and yang sides of the body. As you find balance in the body and mind, you are encouraging a state in the body that is conducive to fighting against indigestion and reflux problems.
Lord of the Dance Pose - Natarajasana
Continue with the left foot rooting down into the ground, and bring the right leg up. Kick the foot back towards the glute and reach for the inside of the foot and ankle. Extend the left hand to the sky and kiss the knees together. Lengthen up through the spine and start to kick into the hand as you stretch your left hand forward. Actively kick and stretch to find balance and pick one point to focus on to help with stability and square both hips down towards the ground.
Warrior 2 Pose - Virabhadrasana 2
Step your feet apart, taking a wide legged position. Start to rotate the right toes out at a ninety degree angle. The inner arch of the left foot should be in line with the right heel. Begin to lunge into the right knee and bring the right knee to be stacked over the right ankle. Rotate your hips open towards the side and draw the lower belly in, the tailbone down and then reach the arms out in opposite directions to come into Warrior Two Stance. You can take your gaze forward, out over your front middle finger.
Inhale and reach both hands up towards the sky and then rotate your right toes back in and your left toes out at ninety degrees, coming into Warrior two on the other side. Bend into your left knee and find that heel to arch alignment with the feet. Lunge deeper into the left knee and open the hips up towards the side. Arms go nice and long and the gaze goes towards your front middle finger.
You can think of Warrior Two as a power pose and find strength in the lower body as you lunge deeply into the legs and energetically hug them towards the midline to turn them on. As you connect to this power and your inner warrior, know that you are actively fighting against any acidity in the body.
Five Pointed Star Pose - Utthita Tadasana
Start to straighten the front leg and pivot on the feet to bring the heels in and have the toes turning out. Extend the arms up towards the sky and open the hands to come into Five Pointed Star Pose. Open the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Draw the lower belly in and keep the chest and heart open.
Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana
Come down into a seat and send both legs out long. Remove any extra flesh from underneath the sitting bones and then reach the hands up towards the sky. Lengthen the spine and take a breath in and as you exhale, reach the hands forward. Continue to lengthen the spine and you bring the torso down, hinging at the hips, leading with the heart, drop the hands down to the mat.
The compression created in the belly here is going to massage the internal organs and invite movement into the colon. As you bend and compress, let the breath take you deeper into the pose. Inhale to unwind the spine back up to straight.
Half Lord of the Fishes Poses - Ardha Matsyendrasana
Keep the left leg extended long, bend the right knee and step the right foot over the left leg. Inhale, and reach the hands up towards the sky and then bring the right hand down towards the back of your mat and wrap the left arm around the right thigh to come into a seated spinal twist. Press the back hand in to the mat and take a breath in to lengthen the spine and as you exhale, twist deeper.
Extend both hands back up towards the sky, and prepare to swap sides. Switch out the legs by bringing the right leg down and long, bend the left leg and take the foot across the right knee. Inhale to lengthen up through the spine and as you exhale, drop the left hand down towards the back of the mat and bring your right arm around your left thigh, coming into a spinal twist.
Use the breath to take yourself deeper into the twist and invite movement inside of the body to help remove acid reflux and acidity. Gentle poses and twists are a great way to cool the body down and ease inflammation and bring some mobility back in to the digestive system.
Featured Video: Nine Yoga Poses For Acid Reflux
Yoga for Low Stomach Acid
Having enough stomach acid ensures that our food can be properly broken down. This means there is better absorption of nutrients, better defence against parasites and infection, and increased stimulation and release of enzymes that are needed for proper digestion.
One cause for low stomach acid and poor digestive functioning is high stress. Studies indicate that both short and long term stressors can affect the function of the gastrointestinal tract. The gut is our second brain and it is often a direct reflection of our quality of mind. When we are stressed, our body and mind go into fight or flight mode and digestive functioning can become impaired. When the mind is at ease and the body is in a state of rest and digest and this is obviously going to be more conducive to optimal digestive performance. This means the system will be better able to exert the energy that is required to break down food effectively and as a result we will experience less digestive drama.
If you think you are running low on stomach acid then it will benefit you to use your meal times to practice mindfulness. Make sure you are not getting sucked into any emotional eating, or eating when you are stressed and try to give your meals your undivided attention. Try to eliminate stress from your life by adding in more yoga and meditative practices and notice how mindful eating transforms the relationship you have with your food.
Reflux acidity can have you reaching for over the counter drugs pretty quickly, but we want to give you a more holistic option that is good for both the body and the mind. This article has introduced you to a series of poses that are going to help create more space in the body so that obstruction can move through.
As you practice more yoga, you will start to come out of the mind and more aware of your internal space and there will be a natural inclination towards wanting to serve yourself and your body in a way that promotes health and wellbeing.