How Yoga Postures Can Help Prevent Hernias
by Meera Watts
It has been found that yoga can reduce the symptoms in hernias such as pain. Also, within preliminary studies, it has been proven that the aggravating factors of hernias are less frequent.
Hernias can be painful, uncomfortable and last a long period of time. While there are surgeries to temporarily fix the problem you may have had since birth (depending on what type you have), you may decide to take a more holistic approach like yoga. The various types of surgery come with risks and usually does not cure the problem for life. Hernia repair is said to carry a risk of chronic pain after the surgery is completed. There is also a restriction in movement that was reported after surgery. For inguinal hernias, it’s not suggested you get surgery in most cases as the complications can be too great and you can end up with constant groin pain.
So why choose yoga?
The abdomen contains the essential organs that keep you healthy and alive. These vital organs exist within the abdominal cavity where they are safe and confined. When you have a hernia, the muscles weaken, leaving a gap in the abdominal wall which allows those internal organs to bulge out. One of the reasons this can occur is that you haven’t exercised enough so the supporting muscles have become weak.
Gentle Strengthening of the Core
The beautiful thing about yoga is that it really is for everyone. This means that no matter where you are physically, you can start practicing and gain the benefits. When you’re mindful in a yoga pose, you can usually incorporate your core in one way or another. As it is the center of our bodies, the core influences many of the movements we make.
From the simplest of poses like lying down and lifting your head up slightly with arms supporting, you can strengthen your core gently, slowly and with intention. A lot of people might try to do intense core strengthening poses when they’re not physically ready. This can cause a hernia. If you take it slow and easy, you’ll have a strong center due to strength within the stomach wall. You can get started with this sequence.
How Yoga Helps You Avoid a Hernia Recurrence
If you already suffer from a hernia, hatha yoga alone won’t be able to cure it. However, with the consistent performance of specific hatha yoga postures, as well as other exercises which strengthen the abdominal obbliques the gap can be closed. What certain yoga asanas can help do is prevent it from happening again. When you strengthen your abdominal muscles, your organs have less of a chance of bulging, therefore preventing a hernia.
If you do have hernia-repair surgery, you’ll want to wait quite a few weeks before starting any form of yoga. Once you’ve contacted your doctor, you can start introducing yourself back into various hatha yoga asanas. Avoid double-leg raises, forward bends, backwards, or sideways bends, twisting, or sun salutations.
Yoga and Body Awareness
Hatha yoga naturally changes the way you think as it taps into the neuro-receptors of the brain. Part of your new way of thinking will including being more aware of your body. You’ll learn to quickly identify it when something hurts in even the slightest way.
Hatha Yoga Stretching Gradually Strengthens Abdominals
As you stretch through yoga poses, you also strengthen the weak abdominal muscles. The stretching sends oxygenated blood to the muscles, nourishing, toning, activating, and strengthening them. You improve the tone and tenseness of the muscles so internal organs stay in place. Use these yoga stretches for beginners to get started.
Reduces Stress that Can Cause Umbilical Hernia
While many umbilical hernias are there at birth, it may not be aggravated so you won’t experience symptoms. However middle-aged women who have stress, anxiety, or depression are more likely to provoke a hernia. Yoga eases the onset of stress and anxiety as well as prevents it from occurring at all. Specific poses deeply relax the mind by releasing stress that gets held up (ex. the hips). Full yogic breath, which is half of the practice when it comes to Hatha Yoga, also deeply relaxes the whole body with a special focus on the belly.
Hatha Yogic Breathing for Hiatal Hernia
One of the most effective exercises for a Hiatal Hernia is a breathing technique. It is extremely gentle, relieving stress as you strengthen the abdominal wall.
Pull in your abdomen, hold for three seconds. Slowly release.
Repeat about 10 times.
Try to do this every hour throughout the day.
When it gets easier to do so, pull in your abdomen, and hold your breath for longer. Try up to seconds.
Some of the proposed poses you can include Mahamudra which can help heal inguinal hernias. Also, by gently doing poses like Mula Bandha (pelvic floor lift) and Uddiyana Bandha (flying upward lock), you can strengthen the lower abdominal muscles. Other poses that have been chosen are based on their ability to compress the inguinal canal, make your inner stomach muscles stronger, and reduce pressure to the abdominals.
Author Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.
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