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Yoga Poses for Heartburn Relief

By Andrea Boldt ; Updated January 30, 2018

The burning sensation in your chest and throat following a night of overindulgence on spicy, rich or acidic foods is classic heartburn. Sometimes, heartburn is out of your control and is classified as gastrosophageal reflux disease, or GERD. You may develop GERD when you suffer from a hiatal hernia, are pregnant or take certain prescription drugs.

Whether you have chronic heartburn caused by GERD or just occasional attacks, you want to ease it because, frankly, it's quite unpleasant. Antacids might be your first course of attack for a bout of heartburn, but certain yoga poses allow you to skip the chalky pills and still get relief.

Yoga, along with other lifestyle treatments, can help you manage heartburn. Your first step is, of course, to avoid trigger foods — that includes coffee, alcohol, tomato, chocolate and fatty foods. Stress is another trigger. GERD may need a doctor's intervention. But, when it's up to you to soothe your heartburn symptoms, strike a pose.

Physical Practice

Although twists can feel good when you have a bout of gas, they can encourage a shift in stomach acid, so it drives up toward your chest and esophagus, aggravating the telltale sour taste and burning feelings associated with heartburn. Instead, practice poses that stretch you out and relax your system. The lengthening poses bring immediate relief and relaxation helps with long-term stress reduction.

Easy Pose: Easy pose is really just a simple cross-legged seated position. Sit down on a mat, bend your right knee and tuck your heel in line with your groin. Bend your left knee and put the heel of your foot in line with your right heel. Breathe in the pose for 10 to 20 breaths.

Cat: The pose gets its name from its similarity to a Halloween cat image. Get into all-fours and arch your spine. Hold for a breath or two, release and repeat until you feel some relief.

Corpse: You end most yoga practices in this simple posture. Lie on your back on a mat and stretch out through your legs. Let your arms rest alongside your body, but don't be afraid to spread out. Breathe deeply for 5 minutes or longer.

Breath Work

A case study showed that specific forms of Pranayama, or breath work, can ease the symptoms of severe GERD, especially when used in conjunction with prescribed proton pump inhibitors. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2013 listed the following breath practices as being most effective in increasing the tone of the diaphragm, so reflux of stomach acid to the esophagus lessens. If you're pregnant, skip these forceful breathing exercises.


Kapalabhati, or the skull-shining breath, helps build up your diaphragm and stimulates the autonomic nervous system to induce relaxation so digestion happens naturally and smoothly. You breath explosively from the area between your navel and your pubis, building heat and energizing you.

  1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position or in Hero's pose on the floor. Bring your attention to your lower belly, placing a fisted hand right below your belly button.

  2. Exhale forcefully out your nose as you empty the air from the lower abdomen. pump your fist against the area to encourage the action. Immediately snort in another puff of breath and release it. Aim for one to two breath pumps per second.

  3. Aim for 25 to 30 cycles at first, and then gradually work up to 100 rounds.

Agnisar Kriya

  • This method of breathing can be described as "flapping" your abdominal muscles. It's best done on an empty stomach.

    1. Stand with your feet about hip-distance apart; lean forward from your hips and place your hands on your thighs, knees slightly bent. Keep your back straight and don't allow your chin to drop to your chest. Relax your abdominal muscles and expel all your breath.

    2. Contract your abdominal muscles to pull the bellybutton in and up toward your spine. Keep the back long as you begin to push the ab muscles in and out for 10 to 15 reps. Hold your breath as you do this action.

    3. Work up to three rounds of the ab snapping. Don't force yourself to hold the breath if your abs tire before you're done with the 10 to 15 reps. Exhale if you need to, and gradually build up to the full sets of reps over time.

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