GERD and plow pose

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mam5262
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:34 am

GERD and plow pose

Post by mam5262 »

Hi Bernie and forum members,

I have always had a certain amount of gastro-esophageal reflux with the accompanying heartburn occasionally. But since becoming a regular with yin yoga and performing plow/snail pose twice a week or so, I think it may be making it worse.

I have a Teeter hangups apparatus that I use for stretching my back and it does not bother my reflux. So it's not just simply being inverted that causes the problems. But I think that in the plow/snail the curl of the back causes the organs in my abdomen to put more pressure on my esophogeal opening, exacerbating the reflux problem.

Lately I have been substituting more Caterpillar pose when plow/snail comes up on my dvd. Do you think this pose is helping me in the same ways as plow does? Any suggestions for additional poses?

Thanks in advance!!
Bernie
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Yoga for GERD?

Post by Bernie »

I can sympathize, as a past GERD sufferer. For those who are not familiar with this condition, let’s define it. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where the valve at the top of the stomach, through which our esophagus leads, weakens and in certain situations acid can back up into the esophagus leading to the burning feeling often called heartburn. The causes can be too much stomach acid, or chronic acidity even when no meals are being digested, to problems with the valve itself. Certainly, if the valve is weak turning the body upside down will make the stomach’s acid more likely to pour into the esophagus, and combining an inversion with abdominal pressure will matters even worse. It sounds like this is happening in your case: the combination of the inversion, along with the pressure in the abdomen from Snail (Plough) Pose is forcing stomach acid past the valve into the esophagus.

If that is the cause, the solutions range from the obvious - don’t do Snail! - to the sublime: how to turn off or at least turn down the acid levels in your stomach. Certainly, I would suggest for now that you remove Snail pose from your practice. Instead, do Caterpillar and Legs-up-the-wall poses to touch the same areas. Then, get to work on removing the underlying cause of your excess acidity or weakened value.

Traditionally, doctors will prescribe a drug called a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) to reduce chronic stomach acidity. I was on these for several years. They worked, but there are long term side effects for some people and I searched for other ways to get by. In my case, chasing my diet was all it took. I adopted a much more Ayurvedic diet and avoid hot, spicy foods. Avoid carbonated beverages, Avoid over-eating until you feel stuffed. Avoid caffeine too. In my case, this was sufficient to get off the PPI and I no longer have GERD.

However, there are other yogic techniques that have proven helpful. Yoga International reported on the effectiveness of pranayama in reducing GERD. This was a study reported in The US National Library of Medicine in 2013. Their recommended procedure was the pranayamas called Agnisar kriya and Kapalbhati: “Kapalbhati and Agnisar kriya may be particularly useful in addressing GERD as they can increase diaphragmatic tone, thus decreasing reflux from the stomach to esophagus. ” In short they found “Practicing yoga in conjunction with medications can be helpful in controlling and/or alleviation of symptoms related to digestive diseases.”

GERD sufferers who do yoga as well may get a lot out of reading the full article.

I hope this helps!
Cheers
Bernie
mam5262
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:34 am

GERD and plow pose

Post by mam5262 »

Hi Bernie,

Thanks so much for your very informative reply! I read the study abstract you referenced, viewed some YouTube videos on how to perform Agnisar kriya and Kapalbhati and have added them into my morning routine.

I don't know if I am doing enough of them but have started with 3 rounds of 10 of the Agnisar kriya and 3 rounds of 30 of the Kapalbhati. I want to take it easy at first to see how they effect me.

I have already decaffeinated myself and limited size of meals. The spicy food issue is hard-I love Mexican food!!

I'll continue with the kriya and pranayama and let the forum know what happens in a few months.

Thanks again!!
Bernie
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Sounds good. Do not over-do the pranayama. A little can be good, but a lot can be bad.

good luck!
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