Almost 10% of the people will encounter an abdominal hernia in their life. It can happen at any age in infants, children, and adults (in both males and females). However, the majority of abdominal hernia cases occur in males.
Hernia, undoubtedly, poses inconveniences in your life. It can be painful and can cause life-threatening complications. Whenever you have any suspicions, consult your doctor to diagnose the type of hernia if you have any and talk about preventive measures you can take.
Hernia generally requires surgery and even after surgery, one has to take extra care to prevent the problem from recurring.
There are precautionary and preventive techniques to help avoid or overcome this problem. You cannot always control what goes on outside but you can always control what goes on inside. This is why the efficacy of yoga is always discussed whenever treatment for any ailment is considered. This article will be your one stop shop to learn everything about hernia and yoga’s effectiveness for its treatment. So, let’s hop right to it!
What Is A Hernia?
A hernia happens when an organ protrudes through an opening in the muscle or a tissue that keeps it in place. For instance, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.
Hernias usually occur in the abdominal area, but they can also emerge in the upper thigh, belly button, and groins. Most hernias are not life threatening just after they pop up, but you cannot expect them to go away on their own. Sometimes a surgery is mandatory to put a stop to potential dangers and complications.
Common Hernia Types :
1. Inguinal hernia :
Inguinal hernias occur most commonly in people. About 70 percent of all cases observed are people suffering with inguinal hernia. These hernias take place when the intestines push through a weak patch of abdominal wall or damage it from the lower side of the abdomen (often in the inguinal canal).
The inguinal canal is present in the groin area. In men, it is the place where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. This cord gives support to the testicles. In women, the inguinal canal possesses a ligament that keeps the uterus in its place.
Inguinal hernia is more common in men than women. Because men’s testicles descend by the inguinal canal shortly after the birth and this canal is supposed to close completely behind them. Sometimes, it does not close adequately and leaves a weakened spot prone to hernias.
2. Hiatal hernia :
A hiatal hernia takes place when part of your stomach projects out through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. The diaphragm is a shield of muscle that helps you breathe by contracting and inhaling air into the lungs. It is a sheet that separates the organs in your abdomen from those in present in chest.
Hiatal hernias are commonly observed in people above the age of 50. If a child is diagnosed with this condition, it is typically due to a congenital birth defect. Hiatal hernias nearly always give rise to gastro esophageal reflux, in which the contents of stomach leak backward into the esophagus, causing heart burn.
3. Umbilical hernia :
Umbilical hernias are most common in babies under 6 months and children. It occurs when their intestines protrude through their abdominal wall near the belly button. You may notice a bump in or near your child’s belly button, especially when they are crying.
An umbilical hernia is the only type that can go away on its own when the abdominal muscles become stronger, normally by the time when the child is 1 years old. If the hernia does not disappear by this time, surgery is required to remove it.
4. Incisional hernia :
Incisional hernias can show up after you have had abdominal surgery. Your intestines may protrude through the incision scar or the surrounding, weakened muscles or tissues.
Yoga Therapy For Hernia :
Proper practice of Asanas and Pranayama are helpful to prevent and treat hernia. Not all Asanas and Pranayamas are befitting for people suffering with hernia. However, all these exercises should be carried out under the supervision of a yoga instructor otherwise there could be repercussions, e.g. postures that increase abdominal pressure and require heavy lifting or strenuous breathing should be avoided.
Yoga can help to alleviate symptoms of inguinal hernia completely. Inverted postures are excellent treatments for hernia. Inversions use gravity to soothe the pressure from the abdominal wall. Regular practice of pranayama will not only help you cope with the pain but also improve the quality of life.
However, if the symptoms of hernia do not disappear or become worse, surgery will be the only alternative. Seek professional advice if necessary.
Yoga postures cannot cure hernia completely. Once a protrusion has started, hernia repair surgery becomes vital to put it together. However, yoga can save you from recurrence of hernia by strengthening abdominal muscles, reducing fat, and promoting healthy life style habits. It can also aid you to avert hernia from occurring in the first place.
You must wait at least 2 weeks or longer before initiating yoga therapy if you have undergone hernia repair surgery. Then start yoga asana slowly, under the supervision of your yoga instructor. Avoid double-leg raises, back and forth bending or sideways bending, twisting and the prone asanas postures during your recovery time period.
Whether you have already undergone a surgery or simply want to strengthen your abdominal muscles, adding these exercises to your daily yoga routine will work.
1. Single-Leg Raising :
Lie down, with your arms on your sides. As you inhale, slowly lift your left leg up, without bending the knee, as far as you can without feeling pain, then exhale as you move it back. Keep your lower back attached to the floor. Start with 5 leg lifts for each one and work up to 20.
If you are recovering from a surgery, practice only one leg raise thrice a day. Avoid any strains to your abdominal area.
2. Head Lifting :
Lie down with your legs straight and your arms on your sides. Exhale and lift your head, shoulders, and arms. Keep it like that for a moment and then go back and relax. Repeat up to 10 times. Avoid this exercise if you feel pain in your back, neck or abdomen.
3. Embryo :
Lie with your feet together and arms stretched out behind you. Bend your knees as you lift your legs up and inhale gradually. Then, as you exhale, touch your knees to your chest, hold them with your entwined fingers and bring your chin up to your knees. Now, stretch your left leg at 45 ̊ angle and move it in rounds, clockwise and counterclockwise 5 times each. Repeat the same with the right leg. In the end, bring both legs near your chest and rock back and forth a few times.
4. Half Shoulder stand :
Lie down on your back and lift your legs, bend your knees if you want. Now, exhale slowly and bring your legs farther so your hips do not touch the floor. Support your hips with yours palms; leave your weight on your arms and shoulders. Now, inhale and raise your legs up to the perpendicular position, but the angle of your trunk should remain at 45˚. If you feel strain on your hands, bring your legs toward your head. Hold them there normally. Then bend your legs and release your arms to roll out of the pose while you exhale.
5. Abdominal Lock :
Hunch forward, rest your hands on your knees and let the weight of your torso rest on your arms. Exhale through your mouth then close it so no air can enter in your lungs. Expand your chest just like inhaling and suck in your abdomen. Try to relax the abdominal muscles during the whole process. This may be difficult at first but with continuous practice you will master it soon. Hold your breath as long as you can. Then release and inhale slowly.
Caution: Avoid this exercise during menstruation, pregnancy, active inflammation or bleeding, or if you are suffering from any heart disease or hypertension.
6. Abdominal Pumping :
Bend forward, place your hands over your knees and once again let your weight rest on your arms (like in abdominal lock). Exhale again through your mouth. Close your windpipe so no air can pass. Expand your chest, as if you are inhaling and suck your abdomen up in the chest. Then relax your abdominal muscles with closed trachea. Suck in your stomach and relax it in and out until you need to breathe. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
Caution: just like in abdominal lock, do not do this practice during menses, pregnancy, active bleeding or inflammation, just after surgery and if you are hypertensive or heart patient.
Alternative Hernia Treatment With Ayurvedic Medicines :
Hernia can also be treated if it is diagnosed at an early stage without going through any surgery with Ayurvedic medicine. There are also some kits which can help you with this.
This hernia kit comprises of Hernica® and Acidim®, It is a combination of anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. They help alleviate internal inflammations and give strength to abdominal wall muscles. It allows the intestines to return to their natural position.
This kit, as mentioned above has the following two medications in it:
It is an herbal formula to reduce and control inflammation of the intestines and diminish pressure on the abdominal wall. This medicine regulates bowel movements and removes gut infections because it contains anti-microbial components.
Its chemical constituents are:
1. Pongamia glabra: The seeds of Pongam Oil Tree provide an essential oil which contains the chemical called karanjin. Karanjin gives the tree extracts its insecticidal and microbial properties. The oil is an antioxidant in nature and is beneficial to treat skin diseases. Karanjin is the medicinal drug that used as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, therefore used to treat hernia as well.
2. Cassia angustifolia (senna): It is used for a wide range of medicinal purposes in many traditional medicine systems. The plant is mainly known for its cathartic properties and is especially useful in chronic constipation. The laxative principles sennoside A and sennoside B that are isolated from leaves and flowers of senna, contain important ingredients purgative in nature. The plant is being further investigated for its various chemical constituents and pharmacological properties.
3. Holarrhena antidysenterica: This plant has various health benefits and is used in ayuvidic and traditional medicines from centuries. Mainly it is used to treat GIT and stomach related issues. This is a great antispasmodic agent and used in gut motility diseases. It helps to relax the muscles of intestine and relieves stomach ache. This herb also has wonderful rejuvenating properties and boosts the immune system of the body.
4. Ferula Asafoetida: It is a well-known herb in traditional medicine system. The plant is used as a digestive aid because it prevents gas, bloating and stomach pain. Ferula asfoetida has significant antispasmodic effects on smooth muscles of abdomen due to presence of essential oils and resins in it. You can learn all about Ferula asfoetida in this link.
Some other ingredients are also added in hernica (mentioned in label) in micro quantities to enhance its healing effect.
It is formulated to eliminate free radicals from the intestines, maintain stomach acid levels, aid digestion, reduce pain and it also maintains an optimum pH level in the body. Because this medicine hits the root of the problem, the chances of recurrence of hernia become least. This natural remedy is also helpful in relieving post-surgical pain.
The key components of this medicine are:
1. Ipomoea turpethum: This plant helps in improving the peristaltic movements in the abdomen therefore it is used as laxative and purgative. It is anti-inflammatory in action because of its hot potency. It also helps in managing the normal body temperature.
It is used in hernia treatment to reduce pain caused by irregular bowel movements and as digestion aid.
2. Embelia Ribes: This plant has properties to ease the flatulence in intestine such as constipation, colic, dyspepsia, and piles. It treats fungal infections and skin infections, it also acts as a diuretic and laxative.
3. Embelia Ribes: is one of the most strong anti-parasitic and anthelmintic herbs. It does have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant rejuvenating, laxative, and astringent properties as well.
Embelia Ribes is typically used to treat stomach-related issues such as bloating, indigestion and constipation.
4. Cyprus Rotundus: It is pungent and bitter sweet plant that relieves spasms and inflammations. It mainly acts on the digestive system and uterus. According to a study the plant contains analgesic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue properties.
Cyprus rotundus is also used in the treatment of hernia pain and menstrual complaints.
5. Eugenia Caryophyllata: These are aromatic flower buds. Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol that may help to decrease inflammation and pain and fight infections.
It is used as digestion aid, treats abdominal discomfort, irregular bowel syndrome and relieves hernia pain.
You can read more about this Hernia Kit here - https://www.grocare.com/products/hernia-kit
Bottom Line :
Health is not valued till sickness comes and this is the reason why prevention is always better than cure. Hernia may seem like a scary and complicated disease but do not let it become difficult to overcome for you. Try everything that it takes to eradicate it from your life via medicine, surgery or changing your lifestyle. Yes! Changing lifestyle is perhaps the single most important factor when it comes to treating Hernia. Do exercise regularly and maintain a normal body weight to avoid obesity. Adopt proper healthy eating habits to avoid constipation and eating fibrous foods such as vegetables. This will keep your intestines healthy and protected from inflammations and infection, thus resulting in reduced chances of stomach complications, pain and hernia.