Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a very common problem. The symptoms that an individual may notice after eating may vary greatly from person to person even if they consume the same food. We commonly use specific terms such as heartburn, abdominal pain, stomach ache, bloating, heart burn, and heaviness to describe symptoms.
A meal containing a high fat content such as oily or greasy foods are more likely to bring on a bout of indigestion. The underlying problems that may give rise to symptoms may also vary and it should be noted that multiple disease processes may cause similar or indistinguishable symptoms.
For example, gastritis, defined as a swelling or inflammation in the inner lining of the stomach, gastric ulcers, hiatal hernias and reflux disease may all produce identical symptoms of abdominal discomfort.
Indigestion has a number of different causes, but it’s rarely due to a serious, underlying condition.
It’s normal for your stomach to produce acid, but sometimes this acid can irritate the lining of your stomach, the top part of your bowel (duodenum) or your gullet (oesophagus).
This irritation can be painful and often causes a burning sensation. Indigestion may also be due to the lining of your digestive system being overly sensitive to acid, or the “stretching” caused by eating.
Indigestion Yoga Poses
Indigestion can also be triggered or made worse by other factors. Some of these are explained below.
Causes of indigestion
You may have indigestion if you take certain types of medication. Some medicines, such as nitrates (taken to widen your blood vessels) relax the oesophageal sphincter (ring of muscle between your oesophagus and your stomach), which allows acid to leak back up.
Other medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can affect your digestive tract and cause indigestion.
Do not take NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, if you have stomach problems, such as a stomach ulcer, or have had this in the past. Children under 16 years of age should not take aspirin.
Never stop taking a prescribed medication unless you are told to do so by your GP or another qualified healthcare professional who is responsible for your care.
If you are very overweight, you are more likely to experience indigestion because of increased pressure inside your stomach (abdomen).
The increased pressure, particularly after a large meal, may lead to acid reflux into the oesophagus.
Stress or anxiety
If you regularly experience feelings of stress or anxiety, this can contribute to symptoms of indigestion.
A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body, such as an organ, pushes through a weakness in the surrounding muscle or tissue wall.
A hiatus hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes up into your diaphragm (the sheet of muscle under your lungs). It may partially block refluxed stomach acid clearing from your oesophagus, leading to heartburn.
Helicobacter pylori infection
Helicobacter infection is very common. It may lead to stomach ulcers or, rarely, stomach cancer. In most cases, however, it does not cause any symptoms at all.
Some people may get bouts of indigestion from helicobacter infection and, in these cases, getting rid of the bug with antibiotics (eradication) will help. However, many cases of indigestion are not caused by helicobacter, and in these cases eradication will not get rid of symptoms.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition and one of the main causes of recurring indigestion. It’s caused by acid reflux, which occurs when the oesophageal sphincter fails to prevent stomach acid from moving back up into your oesophagus.
A little bit of acid reflux is normal and rarely cause any symptoms. It becomes GORD when large amounts of reflux occur, and the sensitive lining of your oesophagus may get inflamed by repeated irritation from stomach acid. This can lead to heartburn, the sensation of regurgitation or painful swallowing.
A stomach ulcer is an open sore that develops on the inside lining of your stomach (a gastric ulcer) or small intestine (a duodenal ulcer). If you have a stomach ulcer, you may have indigestion as a symptom.
Stomach ulcers form when stomach acid damages the lining in your stomach or duodenum wall. In most cases, the lining is damaged as a result of an H pylori infection (see above).
In rare cases, recurring bouts of indigestion can be a symptom of stomach cancer.
Cancer cells in your stomach break down the protective lining, allowing acid to come into contact with your stomach wall.
Yoga poses for treating indigestion
A classic yoga posture, Knees-to-Chest Pose has many therapeutic benefits to cure indigestion. Because it’s performed on your back, it is sometimes referred to as “Supine Knees-to-Chest Pose.” Though the pose is rarely referred to by its Sanskrit name — Apanasana (ah-pahn-AHS-uh-nuh) — it can be helpful to understand its meaning. It comes from two Sanskrit words: “Apana” (meaning, “downward-flowing life force”) and “asana” (meaning, “pose”). In yoga, apana is a bodily energy that serves as the opposite function of “prana,” which is considered the vital life force.
Prana gives life to the body through breathing and other techniques. Apana, in contrast, is the body’s force of elimination. It flows downward and out of the body, eliminating impurities through the lungs and excretory systems. Practicing Apanasana relieves the pressure of this force of elimination, helping the body to efficiently reduce and expel waste, toxins, and tension.
The benefits of Apanasana are closely related to those of its variation, Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana): Relief from excess digestive air, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity, and constipation. It is often recommended for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
How knees-to-chest pose is done
- Begin by lying on your back, with your legs and arms extended.
- As you exhale, draw both of your knees to your chest. Clasp your hands around them. If it is possible for you, wrap your forearms over your shins and clasp each elbow with the opposite hand.
- Keep your back flat on the mat. Release your shoulder blades down toward your waist. Broaden across your collar bones.
- Draw your tailbone and sacrum down toward the mat, lengthening your spine even more or If it is comfortable for you to do so, softly rock backward and forward or side-to-side for a gentle spinal massage.
- Tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the center line of your body.
- Hold for up to one minute. Keep your breath smooth and even.
- With an exhalation, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest. Repeat up to six times.
Modification: Bring up your knees as far as it is comfortable. To vary the stretch, you can do one side at a time. Leaving your left leg extended, bring up your right knee and hold it for five or more breaths. Then, switch to the other side.
Extended child pose
Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue. Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported.
How extended child pose pose is done
- From a kneeling position, the toes and knees are together with most of the weight of the body resting on the heels of the feet.
- The arms are by the side body and the fingers are relaxed.
- The forehead rest softly onto the earth.
- The gaze is down and inward.
Marjariasana, or the cat pose in yoga is one of the most widely known and commonly performed poses in the world. An individual’s posture is considered to be a very important aspect of being able to lead a happy and healthy life and the cat pose is considered to be one of the most effective yoga poses when it comes to correcting posture and indigestion.
How cat pose pose is done
Given below are the steps to follow when performing the cat pose.
- You will need to first get into a table top position with your hands and knees on the floor. Posture wise, it is important for your knees to be directly below the hips and the wrists, elbows and shoulders in line with each other as well as perpendicular to the floor. Your head must be positioned in the center with your focus locked firmly on the floor.
- The next phase of the pose is to exhale while rounding your spine towards the ceiling. Ensure that your hands and knees remain in their original position and do not move at all at this time.
- You must then release your head towards the floor, but avoid forcing the chin towards the chest.
- The next part of the cat pose steps is to inhale while returning your body to the tabletop position that you originally started from and repeat as many times as your want.
- The first variation will require you to start in the same table top position as in the original version of the cat pose and then while exhaling turn that head and focus your eyes on the left hip.
- Do this while simultaneously moving your hip towards your head.
- Breathe in and return to your starting position before repeating on the other side. You should do this movement for about 10 or 15 breaths.
- The second variation will see you begin in the tabletop position and then let your hands move in a forward direction or perpendicular as you move your hips in a circular motion.
- You should then inhale and move forward while exhale and move backwards. Again, continuing this for about 15 breaths should make up your complete workout on this pose.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana the original name of bridge pose is good for digestive system. The mild inversion in Setu bandha pose helps your blood flow, making you feel more energized.
How bridge pose is done
- Lie on the floor and bend your knees.
- Keep your arms beside your body and your feet flat on the floor.
- Move your hips up to give your chest a good stretch.
- To better aid your digestion, try this variation. Press one hip up and hold the pose.
- Take five breaths, then switch to the other side.
Modification: Keep your hands under you as you arch your back and open your chest. You can also clasp your hands and interlace your fingers under your back.
As explained above several troubles in the body are the reasons for the indigestion of food. Intense constipation provides great discomfort to the body as well as mind and the spirit. Various exercises of yoga suggested in the article help the digestive system for its proper functioning.