Depression and stress are bigger contributing factors to your acid reflux than you think. Make yourself a priority and practice yoga and meditation for heartburn and improve your health. It doesn’t have to take long, the main thing is that you try to do it regularly for maximum results.
In this article I will explain how stress may be a major contributing factor to your acid reflux and how yoga and meditation for heartburn can help. I’ll also show you which yoga poses will benefit you most and share some quick and easy yoga sequences and guided meditations that won’t trigger reflux and you can easily do at home.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn, also called acid reflux, is the painful burning sensation you feel in your chest when acidic stomach contents moves back up into your esophagus or food pipe.
Between your stomach and esophagus is your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is supposed to shut tight so stomach acid and food can’t back up into your esophagus.
If you have acid reflux, one or both of the following things happens:
- Your LES doesn’t close properly which is often caused by food or medication that relaxes your sphincter muscle.
- Or, there is too much pressure on your stomach. For example, when you tense your abdominal muscles in stressful situations, wear a tight belt or overeat. These things force your LES open and reflux occurs.
Regular acid reflux irritates and inflames the lining of your stomach and esophagus. If left untreated, heartburn can evolve into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Further deterioration of the condition may lead to Barrett’s Esophagus and esophageal cancer in extreme cases.
Common heartburn symptoms
Depending on whether you have occasional or frequent heartburn, your symptoms may vary. Common symptoms of acid reflux include:
- chest pain
- burning sensation in your chest
- pain that might get worse why you lie or sit down
- bitter taste in your mouth
- sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- feeling like you have something stuck in your throat
- coughing or hoarseness
Common acid reflux triggers
There are many reasons you may get heartburn, including:
- chronic stress
- too much or not enough stomach acid
- excess alcohol
- regularly eating large meals
- certain foods such as spicy foods or fatty foods
Lifestyle choices to reduce GERD and heartburn
If you have GERD or heartburn, lifestyle choices that address the cause (or causes) of your heartburn should make your symptoms go away.
So, instead of using medication to mask heartburn symptoms, look at what is causing your acid reflux and take steps to address these issues.
If stress is contributing to your heartburn, regular mindfulness meditation practice can help. The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in reducing stress has been proven, and may be the best way for you to relive heartburn.
Even if stress isn’t a contributing factor to your heartburn or GERD, belly breathing exercises, which are a part of yoga and meditation practices, will reduce reflux.
Stress and your digestive system
Stress and anxiety is one of the most common causes of acid reflux. Heartburn itself can bring on anxiety when you worry about eating something will may cause you pain soon after.
Your body’s stress response has a direct impact on your digestive system. If you are stressed, the muscles in your digestive tract spasm and this can cause diarrhea or constipation.
Stress can also make you tense your muscles which puts pressure on your stomach and can cause bloating or gas.
Stress can also increase gastric acid secretion, so you have more acidity in your stomach, which can contribute to reflux and if left untreated may cause a peptic ulcer to form.
If you don’t do anything to reduce your stress levels, over time your condition becomes worse.
Chronic heartburn is a symptom of GERD, and people that suffer from GERD often have higher stress levels than healthy people. A study of 19,000 people found anxiety and depression levels were significantly higher in subjects with GERD and these people had a lower health-related quality of life.
Why yoga and meditation for heartburn works
Researchers reviewed more than 200 studies of mindfulness meditation therapy and found it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness can also help treat people with specific problems including pain, smoking and addiction, as well as improve physical health.
Yoga and meditation reduce the stress response on your digestive tract.
Practicing yoga or meditation triggers your body to relax by reducing your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. This is the opposite of how your body reacts in times of stress.
Meditation and yoga help you focus your thoughts and body. And if done regularly, your mindfulness, or ability to focus, will improve and this will help reduce your stress levels.
Studies have found that strengthening your diaphragm can go a long way to preventing reflux and improving your GERD symptoms.
Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing are an important part of meditation exercises. Your lower esophageal sphincter at the top of your stomach is surrounded by diaphragmatic muscle, and when working properly is supposed close tight to prevent acid from refluxing back into your esophagus.
Yoga for heartburn relief
For yoga purists, techniques such as Kapalbhati and Agnisar Kriya can help relieve heartburn. This is because they focus on strengthening your diaphragm which has been proven to reduce reflux.
For Kapalbhati the emphasis is on breathing out using your abdominal muscles rather than breathing in. This helps to clear your respiratory passage and strengthen your diaphragm to ease pressure on your stomach and reduce reflux.
The Agnisar Kriya technique involves flapping your abdominal muscles in and out to promote improved digestion and get your gastrointestinal tract moving properly.
When both exercises are done regularly, this will strengthen your diaphragm muscle, tighten your lower esophageal sphincter and reduce reflux.
Some yoga asanas or yoga poses are more likely to trigger acid reflux than others. There are a lot free yoga videos on You Tube that claim to be good for heartburn, but some actually include postures that are likely to trigger heartburn rather than fix it!
So, if you’re going to be looking for yoga sequences online, here’s some important things that will help you determine which yoga poses are best for heartburn:
- Avoid poses that give you reflux.
- The best yoga posture for you is likely to be standing or sitting asanas.
- Don’t let your stomach be higher than your esophagus.
- Avoid forward bend poses.
- If you are lying down, elevate your upper body with a wedge pillow or cushions. Don’t lie down if this could trigger reflux.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Go easy on any core stimulators as these yoga poses work your abdominal muscles and may give you reflux.
This quick, gentle yoga sequence is suitable for those suffering from acid reflux as it doesn’t have any inversions or abdominal muscle stimulators.
Meditation for heartburn
Meditation is one of the easiest and best ways for you to relieve stress, and there is a lot of documented proof to support the claim.
Another study found that mindfulness meditation can relieve symptoms of depression and improve your quality of life
For some people meditation doesn’t come easy or they believe they can’t sit still and “think of nothing”. However there are many good resources available to help you to learn to meditate to reduce your stress levels and improve your heartburn symptoms.
Guided meditation for heartburn, acid reflux and GERD
Guided meditation is simply meditation that is lead by someone else. Because your mind has a tendency to wander, it is easier to concentrate and relax if you listen to someone else’s voice.
It is common practice for a guided meditation session to follow immediately after yoga. Or you can skip straight to the guided meditation if you want to.
Guided meditations are either lead by a live guide in person, often in a group setting, or you can use a recorded session found on apps, podcasts, videos, CDs or You Tube. Try out a few until you find some you really like.
Guided meditations are good because you get to practice mindfulness techniques to help you focus your thoughts and bodily sensations on the guided meditation. And if done regularly, your mindfulness will improve and this will help reduce your stress levels.
How do you do guided meditation?
Try it! Take 30 minutes of quiet time, but you don’t need to do the whole 30 minutes if you don’t want to.
- Minimize distractions before you start – phone off, kids at school or asleep!
- Sit in a comfortable position, in comfortable clothes. Sitting on the couch works!
- Or you can lie down with your upper body elevated (sun lounge, recliner or wedge pillow help). Don’t do this if you have eaten in the least 2-3 hours or if lying down makes your reflux worse.
- Loosen clothing and belts around your mid section.
- You can keep your eyes closed or open.
Guided meditation for heartburn at night
If you get heartburn at night, you probably have stress and anxiety before you go to bed. Worrying about whether you’ll get reflux, then having trouble falling asleep can be frustrating. Stressful situations can add to the pressure of wanting to fall asleep but not being able to.
Worrying about sleep triggers insomnia and then lack of sleep increases stress and anxiety. This cycle continues until something is done to stop it.
If this sounds like you, then try the video below tonight.
Guided meditation, when done regularly, can be an effective stress reliever and help you get to sleep. And in turn, this can help calm your body’s stress response . This will help you sleep well, which your digestive system needs in order to function properly.
Diaphragmatic breathing exercises for acid reflux
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, has many benefits and is the basis for almost all meditation or relaxation techniques, which can help regulate your body’s stress response, reduce your blood pressure, and maintain balance in other body systems such as your digestive organs.
These exercises help strengthen your diaphragm. These deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to reduce heartburn, acid reflux and the need for antacid medication.
Other home remedies to reduce heartburn naturally
Along with meditation, you might want to try other natural remedies to treat your heartburn:
- avoid your acid reflux trigger foods
- eat small frequent meals
- try probiotics
- allow 2-3 hours after eating/drinking before you lie down
- elevate your head and torso when sleeping
- do physical activity on a daily basis that doesn’t aggravate your heartburn
- avoid alcohol, or drink moderate amounts of alcohol that doesn’t cause heartburn
- quit smoking
Yoga and meditation for heartburn
Give it a shot! These easy and enjoyable natural remedies have worked for many. I hope they work for you too.
Eliminating stress can be easier said than done, however, trying yoga or meditation for heartburn can have a very positive impact on your symptoms.