• Akshat Madan

Yoga Asana Therapy | Prevention & Cure

Yoga Therapy for Acidity Symptom Reduction

The feeling as if your chest is on fire right after you’ve savored that gourmet chocolate or arrabiata spaghetti can leave a bad taste in your mouth, literally!

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a digestive disorder that occurs when the food you eat, mixed with digestive juices, reverses direction and travels upwards through the esophagus tube, instead of continuing its downward journey to the intestines. This happens when the Lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a small muscular valve at the base of the esophagus that closes shut as soon as food passes through it, weakens and loses its sealing capacity therefore cause acid-reflux and heartburn.

Acid Reflux or GERD is primarily a lifestyle disorder that is caused due to irregular eating habits and over-consumption of fried, fatty and spicy foods. Obesity is also one of the associated risk factors that could increase the risk of GERD/ Acid Reflux. Our body is basically the food that we eat, therefore, the type of food can eaither make or break the body. Let us take the example of mint flavored foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolates, and cheese. These can all adversely affect the nerves around the esophageal sphincter muscle, causing it to relax at the wrong time, therefore causing acid-reflux.


Yoga Therapy – Gerd/Acidity


Mild acidity is fairly common and affects about 20% of the population and the conventional medication to counter acidity is acid-blocker drugs. These drugs, such as Proton Pump Inhibitors, work by suppressing the acid-pumps inside our stomach instead of dealing with the root issue that is a weak Lower Esophageal Sphincter. This is where Yoga Asanas can really make a difference by working on specific muscles that connect to the stomach and esophagus. By regularly practing the Yoga Asana sequence specific for Acidity & GERD, one starts to strengthen the ring muscle sitting on top of the Stomach.


Asanas to Strengthen the LES

The below set of Chikitsa Yoga Asana sequence works specifically on the organs of the Digestive System and the Vertebral Column. The back-bend of Bhujangasana and the twist of Ardha-Matsyendrasana work on strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter through the Spinal Extensors and the External Obliques. s The regular and prolonged practice of Yoga asanas such as Virabhadrasana Series, Parivrtta Trikonasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana help reduce weight, which is another common cause for acidity and heartburn.




Samkhya Yoga View:

GERD can manifest due to two types of imbalance a) Aggravated Water-Earth and Weak Fire b) Aggravated Fire & Weak Earth-Water. The symptom of the first type would be a high BMI and obesity, which puts additional pressure on the LES and leads to acid-reflux.

Constant ambition or intensity leads to an aggravated Fire and burns the oesophagus from inside as a result of excessive stomach acids. Lack of physical vitality, mental irritation, and decreased physical strength are also indicators of the increasing severity of dyspeptic symptoms.


Yogic Lifestyle advice:


Those suffering from Acidity or dyspepsia must at no time consume spicy foods. Packaged chips, etc that are salty, spicy, etc must also be avoided. Larger volumes of natural spring water must be consumed on a daily basis. Natural work like farming must be undertaken or in absence of farming opportunities, sufferers of dyspepsia must go on weekend nature treks, of a demanding nature and should camp outdoors, sleeping on green earth under the stars. Chikitsa Yoga Asanas pertaining to Acidity should be practised without delay so that the symptoms can be alleviated and LES strengthening take place, leading to the disease being overcome.

While exercise and weight loss are the primary means to strengthen the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, appropriate dietary changes can be adopted to alleviate hyperacidity by bringing balance to the stomach acids. Grueled rice mixed with fresh buttermilk is a simple yet effective ayurvedic preparation to alleviate the symptoms of acidity and heartburn. The gelatinous texture of rice protects the stomach lining while fresh buttermilk soothes the acidic stomach. One can also have a well ripe banana with milk as the serotonin rich banana helps counter further acidic secretions in the stomach. Pomegranate and Indian Gooseberry are loaded with Vitamin A & Vitamin C respectively that help recovery from nausea and heal inflammation of the stomach by forming collagen.

Yoga Asana & Pranayama Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes


Diabetes, is an organic lifestyle based disease that affects more than 380 million people world-wide. It can broadly be separated into Type 1 Diabetes, which is Insulin-dependent and mainly congenital, and Type 2, which is Non-insulin dependent and mainly lifestyle based. The cases and numbers for Diabetes have been on a constant rise and are expected to grow at an exponential rate in the future as well. The foremost reason for the same is a sedentary lifestyle with lack of any physical exercise. In today's fast-paced world, happiness is unfortunately a by-product of conveneince. Neither do we have the time nor the right setting to really sit back and reflect on the fundamental priorities of life, one of them being a fit and healthy body. When this not-so-virtuous lifestyle is coupled with a fast-food diet that is high in carbs and low on nutrition, the result is an excess build-up of adipose tissue, especially around the waist. Now, we all know the ill-effects of excess adipose tissue in the body. It not only burdens the internal organs but also hinders homeostatic processes that keep the body-mind balance going. Over time, this results in the degeneration of Pancreas, specifically their insulin-producing cells called the Islets of Langerhans and thereby causing Diabetes.


Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes


Living with Type 2 Diabetes can be challenging as feeling fatigued. Insulin is the primary hormone that aids in the uptake of glucose. Each cell is akin to a factory. It needs energy to function, and due to lack of Insulin or Insulin resistance, the body is deprived of this energy leading to constant fatigue and even depression. The other common symptom for Diabetes is frequent urination as excess blood glucose impairs and cripples the Kidneys as well. Slow healing of skin wounds due to excess blood glucose is another symptom along with genital itching and numbness in the feet or legs.


Yoga Asana Therapy for Type II Diabetes


The seemingly simple Yoga Asanas and Pranayamas, if practiced regularly, can not only have a profound effect on the body-mind complex but also hold the promise of a partial or complete cure from Type 2 Diabetes. The bodily twists and bends of these Hatha Yoga Asana Postures stimulates certain muscle groups that are connected to specific organs. As we practice these Hatha Yoga Asana regularly, it kick-starts the process of arteriogenesis, which is the development and growth of blood vessels. These new blood vessels rejuvenate the internal organs by increasing the supply of oxygen and glucose, which in turn restores its normal functionality.


Take the case of below asanas –




Ardha-Matsyendrasana, Dhanurasana, Bhunagasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana stimulate the abdominal wall muscles which are connected to the Pancreas and Liver.


When practiced correctly, these asanas activate and massage the muscles and surrounding organs, reversing arterial stenosis. This intricate process stimulates the Pancreas to start producing Insulin & Glucagon and helps restore the function of Liver in fat metabolism.


Active exercise of these Yoga asanas is essential for those either diagnosed with Diabetes or those who have a familial propensity for the disease. The practice of a different mindset, which is non-critical and actively compassionate, will lead to a reduction of the disease as well.

It is suggested that Diabetes patients undertake rigorous Chikitsa Yoga Asana training, specifically targeting diabetes. The practice must be for a period of 2 hours daily, split into two morning and evening classes. It is further suggested that they undertake meditational practice of Metta and Mahakaruna, which are taught in the Vajrayana tradition of classical Buddhism.

DhanurasanaArdha-MatsyendrAsanaParivrtta ParsvakonasanaBhujangasana

Pranayama Kriyas for Type II Diabetes


A healthy person takes, on an average, 14-16 breaths per minute. However, due to obesity and an incorrect posture, we tend to breathe shallow and the number of breaths per minute increases considerably. You must've noticed the subtle and intricate connection between the breath-rate and the heart-rate, they are directly correlated and one can actually control the heart-rate by modulating the breath-rate. Shallow incorrect breathing increases the heart-rate and this in-turn puts additional pressure on the heart, which now has to work harder to supply oxygen to the various cells and organs of the body. On the other hand, deep, full-chest diaphragmatic breathing activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System and improves cardiac function by reducing the work-load of the heart. The ancient Sages and Seers intuited the subtle links between the breath, body and the mind, and developed various breathing techniques with specific intentions. It is beyond doubt that Ujjayi breathing and Kapalbhati reduce stress and burn excess fat by increasing cell metabolism.


Ujjayi Breathing

Sitting comfortably, engage deep chest breathing by slightly constricting the throat muscles. Ideally, the exhalations are twice as long as the inhalations to expel excess CO2 from the body. This Kriya is aimed to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System, reduce stress and stimulate digestion. It can be practiced any time of the day for 2-5 minutes.


Kapalbhati Pranayama or The Skull-cleansing breathing excercise

The forcefull diaphragmatic breathing of Kapalbhati infuses the body with fresh supply of Oxygen. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles that support correct breathing. This powerfull kriya should be learned from an experienced teacher and practiced in a conducive environment. One can start by practicing 20-25 breathing counts and slowly progress to 50-75 counts.


Diabetes - Samkhya Yoga View:

According to 5-Element System of Samkhya Yoga, Diabetes manifests due to an imbalance in the Fire and the Water Element. The psychological aspects of Weak Fire and Aggravated Water element are usually apathy, social isolation and withdrawal, and lack of motivation. Sloth and lethargy of the body, due to over-operation of the brain, compounds the chances for the onset of diabetes. These emotional states of mind are caused and/ or compounded by hormonal imbalance, caused by faltering homeostasis, as the body moves towards the onset of actual diabetes.

This specific elemental combination would usually result in the development of Type-2 Diabetes Type-1 Diabetes is most likely to be a manifestation of High-Fire (but supressed) and Low-Water Element combination. Psychologically this leads to Aggression, and hostility may also be present, making life more difficult for those close to the patient.


Yoga Asana Therapy for Hyperthyroidism:


The thyroid is a small but vitally important butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of the neck, wrapped around the trachea or windpipe. This organs, through its hormones, controls the speed at which the various cells in our body function. It is much like the accelarator pedal in your car, while putting the pedal on the metal, you ensure that you don't go too fast, but you don't want to be on the slow boat to China either.

The beating of your heart, your body temperature, and the rate at which food is digested are some of the major functions regulated by the two main hormones- T3 & T4, secreted by the thyroid gland. Like most systemic diseases, Hyperthyroidism and its variant ailment, Hypothyroidism is caused due to imbalances in the hormonal system brought upon by overexertion, stress and a fast-paced urban lifestyle. Overproduction of thyroid hormones leads to hyperthyroidism as underproduction leads to hypothyroidism.


Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism


Too much thyroid hormone in the system puts the body in an overdrive mode as the metabolic rate increases significantly. As the metabolic rate increases, your heart has to work harder to meet the heightened energy demand. Also, your body temperature tends to remain on the higher side. As your body uses up more energy, there is a constant need to replenish fluids along with an insatiable appetite. Psychologically, the person feels frantic, irritable and tense most of the time due to overactivation of the Sympathetic Nervous System. People suffering from Hyperthyroidism often end up tossing and turning in bed as Insomnia is common among them.


HyperThyroidism & HypoThyroidism Samkhya Yoga Perspective:


Thyroidism, both hyper and hypo, is caused, as per the Yogic point of view, from an imbalance of the Wind, Fire and Water elements. People with an Aggravated Wind Element and an Under-active Water Element have a higher propensity to develop Hyperthyroidism. Such individuals will tend to exhibit high anxiety and tension, impatience and irritability, distractible overactivity, exaggerated sensitivity to noise, and fluctuating depression with sadness along with problems related to sleep and appetite.

People with an Aggravated Water Element and an Under-active Wind Element are more likely to develop the symptoms of Hypothyroidism. They will tend to suffer from a loss of interest and initiative, slowing of mental processes, poor short-term memory, general intellectual deterioration, depressive paranoia, and eventually, if not corrected, to dementia and permanent brain damage.


Yoga Asanas for HyperThyroidism Symptom Reduction:


Hatha Yoga Asanas such as Sarvangasana and Halasana stimulate the Superior Thyroid and Common Carotid arteries that supply oxygen to the thyroid gland. Not just that, these specific set of asanas massage the Sternohyoid & Cricothyroid muscles that are indirectly connected to the thyroid gland. The Yogic techniques always start with the physical, in order to bring a state of homeostasis, which leads to symptom reduction. In the case of Hyperthyroidism, these specific set of Yoga Asanas regulate the functionality of the Thyroid and the Pituitary gland and stabilized T3 & T4 release. These Yoga asanas should be practiced in moderation and one should finish the practice with 5-10 mins of Shavasana to avoid any exertion, which can stimulate the adrenal cortex to release cortisol.


Pranayama Kriyas for Hyperthyroidism:


The Shitali Pranayama Kriya, which involves breathing through the mouth while keeping the tongue folded upwards, cools the body down considerably. Intricate network of blood vessels in the nostril humidify and warm the inhaled breath and by directly breathing through the mouth, this pathway is cut bringing the body temperature down. Also, the curling of the tongue protects the gums and tooth from decay, which are some of the long-term consequences of un-intentional mouth breathing. Ujjayi Pranayama lowers the heart-rate, increases lung capacity and Oxygen transfer rate that has the combined effect to lower blood pressure.


Yogic Lifestyle advice:


Extended vacations and walks in nature are suggested for those suffering from thyroidism. Spices such as garlic, asafoetida, and chilies should be avoided. Work with high work pressure and deadlines should be avoided. Listening to music, pleasing to one’s ears should be indulged in for at least one hour a day.Regular sleep and waking times should be followed and it is better not to sleep too early or wake up too early for those suffering from thyroidism.


Piles – Yogic Asana Prevention and Cure

Allopathic view:

Piles or haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that develop inside or around the anal canal and rectum. Anyone can be affected by piles at any age, and about 50% experience it at some point in their lives. It is more common in older people and during pregnancy. There are two types of piles – Internal, which lies inside the rectum and is usually painless, and external, which lies inside the anus and is often extremely painful. Anti-inflammatory creams and warm sitting baths are traditional therapies for piles. Paracetamol is usually prescribed to alleviate pain. In severe cases of prolapsed haemorrhoids; sclerotherapy, cauterisation or surgery is recommended


Samkhya Yoga View:

Piles, according to the Samkhya Yoga view is caused by imbalance between Earth and Fire elements. Usually caused due to an excess of Fire and a lack of sufficient Earth energy, Piles can be overcome using sequences that concentrate on the Earth and Water elements. Heightened sexuality as well as heightened ambition or self-worth issues, tending to defensive egotism can also aggravate the systemic imbalances that lead to piles.

Yogic Lifestyle advice:

Those suffering from piles must hydrate themselves sufficiently. They must stay away from concentrated juice drinks and alcohol or fermented grains. They must not indulge in too much heavy walking or trekking. Heat and hot environments must be avoided as much as possible. Spicy foods must not be consumed and caffeinated drinks, especially strong black coffee must be avoided. Specific Chikitsa Yoga sequences dealing with Piles can help to completely overcome the problem. Anxiety and stress relieving meditation techniques will also be helpful towards long term disease reduction in the case of piles.


Asanas for Symptom Reduction and Disease Prevention:

The Yogic techniques always start with the physical, in order to bring a state of homeostasis, which leads to symptom reduction. The following are a small selection of simple asanas that will begin the process of recovery from Piles.

JANUSIRSASANA – Head to Shin Pose



Janu Sirsasana

  1. Sitting on your hips, straighten both the knees while keeping the back straight

  2. Bend the right knee and place the right foot in the inner left thigh, close to the perineum

  3. Drop the right knee on the mat

  4. Keeping the spine straight, collapse your stomach and bend the upper body forward and down

  5. Breathe from the chest

  6. Inhaling, straighten your back and come up. Repeat on the other leg

SARVANGASANA – Shoulder Stand



Sarvangasana

  1. Lie flat on your back with the palms facing down

  2. Raise your legs & hips up, keeping the chin close to your chest

  3. Support your lower back with your palms, lift your back off the mat while keeping your knees and back straight

  4. Gaze at the point between the toes, breathing deeply through the chest. You may even close your eyes

  5. Remain here for 3-4 mins then relax your palms and come down gently.

PASCHIMOTTANASANA – Seated Full Forward Stretch


Pachimottanasana

  1. Sitting on your hips with the back completely erect, slowly, with awareness, stretch your arms over your head and raise your chin to look up

  2. Bend forward with the lower back and try to grab your feet with your palms. Do not arch your back, go down only as much as straight back allows you to

  3. Breathe deeply, and with every exhalation, try to go down a bit further till your forehead touches your knees

  4. Don’t hold your breath in this pose, relax your abdominal muscles and keep the breathing deep.

  5. Stay for about 2-3 minutes, and then relax and release the posture to come back into the erect sitting posture

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA – Downward Facing Dog



Adho Mukha Svanasana

  1. Lying face down on the floor, rest the palms down on the floor, the palms in line with the shoulders.

  2. Raise the trunk off the floor and straighten the arms tucking the belly in. Keep a distance of one foot between your feet.

  3. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings, keeping the knees and elbows straight. The head loosely resting between your upper arms without any tension.

  4. Stay in this pose for about 45secs while breathing deeply. Then slowly drop your trunk down on the floor and relax.

Constipation : Yogic Prevention and Cure

Allopathic view:

Constipation is caused due to slower stool movement through the digestive tract, causing the stool to harden and difficult to pass. Anal fissure and narrowing of the colon can cause blockages in the rectum leading to constipation. Certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may also result in constipation. Hormonal imbalances in the Thyroid gland and diabetes are also known to cause constipation.

Allopathy suggests laxatives such as magnesium hydroxide and dietary changes, such as increased water and fiber intake, to ease the bowel movement.

Samkhya Yoga View:

Constipation, as per the Samkhya Yoga view is caused by imbalance of the Fire, Water and Earth elements. This is a primary level disturbance and must be rectified. Primary level imbalanaces left uncorrected can lead to systemic problems later, such as decreased organ functions, decreased immunological response, disturbed hormonal cascading and shortened life expectancy.

Yogic Lifestyle advice:

Those suffering from constipation are advised to perform the specific Chikitsa Yoga sequence of asanas, in which sequence the Inversion positions are of the highest import. They must not consume caffeinated drinks and spicy foods. If possible those suffering from constipation should avoid meat based diet. Fish and eggs can be consumed. Milk is to be regularly consumed. Meditational techniques centering around Detachment can be practiced. Excessive consumerism and 'shopping therapy’ must be avoided as far as practicable by those suffering from constipation.

Asanas for disease reduction:

The Yogic techniques always start with the physical, in order to bring a state of homeostasis, which leads to symptom reduction. The following are a small selection of simple asanas that will begin the process of recovery from constipation.

SARVANGASANA – Shoulder Stand



Sarvangasana

  1. Lie flat on your back with the palms facing down

  2. Raise your legs & hips up, keeping the chin close to your chest

  3. Support your lower back with your palms, lift your back off the mat while keeping your knees and back straight

  4. Gaze at the point between the toes, breathing deeply through the chest. You may even close your eyes

  5. Remain here for 3-4 mins then relax your palms and come down gently.

UTKATASANA – Chair Pose



Utkatasana

  1. Stand straight with feet together and knees straight in Tadasana

  2. Bend both the kness and bring your hips down while keeping the back erect

  3. Raise the arms straight over your head keeping them in line with your shoulders, hold this pose breathing deeply for 15-20secs

  4. Lower the arms down by the side of the body, and slowly, with awareness, straighten your kness to come back in Tadasana

  5. Observe the changes in your breath-rate and heart-rate, and any emotions that might have surfaced

VIRABHADRASANA 1 & 2 – Warrior 1 & 2



  1. Standing straight in Tadasana with the feet together and knees straight

  2. Raise both the arms over your head joining your palms together

  3. Step right foot forwards about 4 – 4.5 feet and turn the left foot 90degrees facing out towards the left

  4. Flex the right knee till the right thigh is parallel to the ground keeping the right knee in life with right heel

  5. Stretch the left leg, keeping the left knee straight. Gaze at the palms and breathe deeply in Warrior I for 20-30secs

  6. Stretch the arms sideways in line with the shoulders, palms facing down. Gaze at the right palm in Warrior II for 20-30secs

  7. Exhaling, relax both the knees and bring the palms down by the side. Place both the feet together and return to Tadasana

  8. Repeat on the above steps with the other leg



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