Yoga to Combat Acidity
Acidity in human body is considered to be one of the major causes for health ailments ranging from mild digestive problems to severe cardiovascular diseases.
It is believed that the body's pH level or acid-alkaline balance has a great impact on the overall well-being and health of a person. But what is normal pH level or acid alkaline balance in a body? Well, pH or potential of hydrogen is basically measure of acidity or alkalinity of the body fluid depending upon the amounts of positively charged or acid forming (H+) ions and negative charged or alkaline forming (H-) ions present in the fluid. The standard pH range is from 0 (extremely strong acids) to 14 (pure alkalines), where 7.0 is said to be as neutral (neither acidic nor alkalic).
A normal and healthy person is considered to have a pH value somewhere between 7.35 and 7.45. Though it is slightly inclined towards the alkaline side, a person having pH value above or below this pH level is vulnerable to various health problems and ailments.
Acidity in Human Body
Unfortunately the human body is usually acidic with it is pH value slightly lower than the normal. The term acidosis, acidity can be an outcome of different factors right from the foods we eat to stress. Apart from our blood and other digestive juices which are naturally acidic, the internal fluids in the body should be neutral. But when these fluids turn acidic they can affect the normal functioning of different body parts. Though body has its own mechanism, i.e., alkaline reserves to neutralize these acids, excess of acidity in human body can deplete these alkaline reserves and weaken the body's immune system.
When the body contains excess of acid, it becomes a breeding ground for many viruses and bacteria which thrive and flourish inside the body and causes acidity symptoms like weakness, illness, heartburn, chest pain and inflammation as well as pain in different body organs. Moreover, acidosis affects the body's ability to absorb nutrients which subsequently hampers the energy production in the cells and the ability to repair damaged cells. Hence, a body with acidity problem becomes vulnerable to mucus, congestion and other chronic or "mysterious" recurring health issues such as sore throat, persistent headaches, digestive disorders including sour tummy, bloating, acid reflux, ulcer etc. gout, common cold, obesity, diabetes, bladder and kidney infections, osteoporosis, heart diseases, cancer and immune deficiency.
Acidity tends to have a much higher incidence in highly emotional and nervous individuals. It is also more common in the developed and industrialised countries.
Since one of the major causes of acidity problem in humans is the diet we consume which is too high in acid content, the best way to control acidosis is to limit intake of high acid foods. However, the problem is that most of us ignorantly consume food which are high in acid or do not know which food is acidic or alkaline in nature. The list mainly includes acid food like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, coffee, tea (black and green), alcohol, soft drinks, meat, eggs, spicy food, dairy products, vinegar and most of the citrus fruits like oranges, berries, etc. as well as antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs. Almost every food we consume enters the body as an acidic substance. Yet many foods have the ability to increase alkalinity by absorbing or neutralizing acidity. However in short, an ideal diet for a person suffering from acidity problem is the one which comprises 60% of alkaline foods and only 40% of foods that are acidic in nature. So it is recommended to use more: lemons and limes (as they are acid-binding, alkali-ash foods), Apple cider vinegar (the exception), soy and tofu, avocado, most vegetables and vegetable juices, most spices and essential oils.
Those with highly nervous and emotional disposition and those involved in high-stress jobs must be encouraged to take up lifestyle modifying measures, such as yoga. Practicing of yoga is one of the most frequently heard life style changing advices at GPs and other health practitioners these days.
In yoga there are a number of practices that are recommended to help overcome acidity by keeping the digestive system healthy and strong. These in brief are:
- Follow a Sattvic Diet
- After having a meal it is advised to sit comfortably in Vajrasana for about 5 to 10 mins. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous response by giving strength to the digestive power reducing the occurrence of flatulence and constipation therefore removing the main causes of acidity.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayam (breathing exercise) along with yoga nidra (deep relaxation) is very beneficial. Pranayam helps relaxing the organs within the abdomen by assisting in adequate blood supply. By controlling the breath one regulates burning of the digestive fire.
- Shitali pranayam & Shitkari pranayam helps in reduction of the burning sensation caused by acidity in the stomach.
- Jalandhara bandha (Chin lock) produces mental relaxation; relieves stress, anxiety and anger.
- Kunjal Kriya (Purification of the Esophagus and Stomach) washes away strong acids from the stomach.
- Khatu Pranam or Surya Namaskara harmonises the whole body, its internal organs and its internal energy flows.
- Pavana muktasana (Knee to chest) massages the abdominal organs.
- Pachimottanasana (Sitting forward bend) teaches us Uddiyana bandha that improves the digestion strengthens internal organs.
- Yoga Mudra massages the abdominal organs especially with fists held in groins.
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated spinal twist) alleviates digestive ailments such as dyspepsia and regulates the secretions of internal organs.
- Mayurasana (Peacock posture) reduces formation of gas in the digestive system. It alsomassages the digestive organs as well as increases their secretions thus aiding digestion.
- Agnisara Kriya and Nauli removes digestive disorder, aids digestion, assimilation and absorption.
Please consult your Yoga in Daily Life Teacher about the correct practice of these techniques.