Around 15% of the global population suffers from acid reflux, and they often seek ways to ease its symptoms.
Luckily, there are ways other than drugs to relieve this unpleasant condition. Recently, more and more people have been using exercise to treat several conditions, including heartburn.
Many people now believe practicing yoga can help with heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
But are they correct?
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Is Yoga Good for Heartburn?
Studies show that practicing yoga can be a great way to help ease heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. Specifically, there are many yoga poses that can improve your breathing and positively impact the health of your digestive tract.
Yoga also helps reduce stress levels, which have been linked with an increased secretion of gastric acid that can lead to heartburn.
A word of caution: Yoga isn’t a cure for heartburn, you may still need medication if your symptoms are persistent.
But yoga can be a great, natural way for you to relieve heartburn.
How Can Yoga Help with Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the throat, esophagus, and upper stomach. It's not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous if left untreated.
Studies show that stress increases your risk of acid reflux, and yoga is great for reducing stress.
Yoga is also great exercise, so practicing it can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose some extra pounds.
Studies show that overweight people are at a higher risk of severe acid reflux symptoms. So, by exercising, for example, by practicing yoga, you can ease heartburn and improve your general health.
Yoga is also an excellent low-impact exercise for pregnant women suffering from heartburn.
Research suggests that yoga usually only works if it’s used alongside acid reflux medication, depending on the severity.
So, include yoga to boost the relief you get from your medication.
What Are the Best Yoga Poses for Heartburn?
A wide range of yoga poses can help with acid reflux symptoms, and you can find plenty online to choose from.
The best poses tend to relieve tension in the neck, stretch your back, and focus you on breathing, including Dancer, Mountain, and Chair.
Some positions may reduce digestive system problems and stomach acidity. These include reclining poses, such as Trikonasana, Warrior I, Side Stretch, Revolved Triangle, and Supported Supta Sukhasana.
Kapalbhati and Agnisar Kriya yoga have also been shown to help strengthen the muscles between your esophagus and stomach, lessening the chance of heartburn.
As with all exercise, everyone will respond differently to yoga. Always try new positions cautiously and see if they work for you; some may even worsen your symptoms.
Wait an hour after eating before practicing yoga or other exercises. Practicing too soon could increase the likelihood of developing heartburn.
Is it Better to Practice Yoga at Home or at a Studio for Heartburn?
Both of these options offer a range of benefits, depending on your requirements and where you're most comfortable.
Yoga studios often have classes designed for people trying to treat the symptoms of acid reflux. So an instructor will guide you, helping you find the poses that work for you.
Practicing yoga at home means you will have to research which poses may work for you, and it could be a case of trial and error.
Can Yoga Treat Heartburn on Its Own?
There’s limited research on yoga’s effectiveness on heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms when not used in conjunction with medication.
It’s important to continue your medication, especially if its prescribed.
Sometimes, over-the-counter medication, such as antacids, are used to treat symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. If you have been using these, it's important to continue, as untreated severe heartburn can damage your esophagus and digestive system.
Avoid acidic foods and beverages if you frequently suffer from heartburn. Especially before exercising, as exercise can force acid into the esophagus.
So, follow an alkaline diet rich in alkaline-forming and alkalizing foods and drinks.
Yoga on its own may help people who suffer from heartburn sporadically or those who haven't been diagnosed with acid reflux or GERD.
So practicing yoga may reduce your intake of antacids and other over-the-counter medications, which aren’t good to take long term.
Can Yoga Worsen Heartburn?
In some people, certain yoga poses and positions can worsen acid reflux, depending on its severity and which symptoms are most prevalent.
Although rare, some exercises can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscles, leading to a higher risk of gastric acid rising up your esophagus, causing heartburn.
Generally, practicing yoga shouldn’t trigger severe acid reflux symptoms.
Practicing yoga can be incredibly helpful for people suffering from heartburn caused by either acid reflux or GERD.
Yoga improves flexibility, improves mobility, and reduces stress levels.
However, if your heartburn is severe, it’s important to take over-the-counter or prescription medication.
Yoga doesn't permanently cure heartburn, but it is another way to relieve your symptoms.
Sources: PMC, National Library of Medicine, and Research Gate