Yoga won’t treat acid reflux directly, but it can help to lower stress, which is a contributor to acid reflux.

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The backward flow of acid from your stomach into your esophagus causes acid reflux. This is also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER). The stomach acids may give you heartburn and taste unpleasant in the back of your throat.

Acid reflux is a common condition, affecting approximately 20% of adults in western cultures.

If you have acid reflux more than twice per week or if it starts to affect your everyday life, you may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

This article explores whether the practice of yoga can help ease symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.

In a 2014 study on GERD, 45.6% of the people researchers surveyed identified stress as a lifestyle factor that affected their reflux symptoms.

A 2023 study on perceived stress and GERD found that those with a higher perceived stress score (PSS) were more likely to have GERD symptoms.

Authors of this study found that stress management was key in preventing and managing GERD. Yoga and other mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, were recommended.

However, further well-designed trials should be conducted to validate the effectiveness of yoga as a standalone treatment for GERD.

Learn more about yoga here: The Definitive Guide to Yoga

If you’d like to incorporate yoga into your treatment plan for acid reflux or GERD, here are some recommendations:

The internet offers a variety of free yoga videos. Yoga for Acid Reflux with Adriene offers a 12-minute routine designed specifically for acid reflux.

The purpose of the sequence is to help you relieve tension in your neck. She also instructs you to focus on your breathing, which can help relieve stress and balance your whole body. This video also covers seated breath work and some other poses, including Dancer, Mountain, and Chair.

This video doesn’t include strenuous moves or inverted poses, like Downward Dog, that might cause acid to flow up. Even with Shavasana at the end, Adriene suggests elevating your head using a block for added security.

Yoga may also help with other digestive issues

Yoga and meditation expert Barbara Kaplan Herring explains that you may be able to help the symptoms of many digestive issues by practicing yoga. She suggests the following yoga poses to help reduce stomach acidity:

Everyone responds differently to yoga. If a move doesn’t feel comfortable or if it makes your acid reflux worse, you don’t need to keep doing it.

The goal of adding yoga to your treatment plan is to help relieve stress and improve your condition.

Getting started with yoga

Try yoga at a studio

If you think yoga might help your acid reflux, contact a local studio today. Talk to the teacher about the symptoms you’re experiencing and whether or not the classes offered might be for you. The teacher may be able to provide modifications during class for positions that aggravate symptoms or meet with you privately for a personalized routine.

Try yoga at home

You can also try yoga in the comfort of your living room. Before you get on the mat, remember to keep your routine gentle and slow. You should avoid postures that stress or put pressure on your stomach or are inverted, allowing acid to enter the esophagus. Otherwise, take this quiet time for yourself and remember to breathe.

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Other lifestyle treatments you can try for acid reflux and GERD include:

  • Watch your diet and the food you eat (avoid foods that might trigger acid reflux)
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • Wait 2 to 3 hours after eating before lying down
  • Raise the head of your bed when sleeping so your stomach is below your esophagus
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce pressure on your abdomen and prevent reflux.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antacids may be used for short-term relief of infrequent GERD symptoms. However, people with certain medical problems shouldn’t take them. This includes people who:

Read this article for more lifestyle tips on preventing acid reflux and GERD

If you’ve found little relief from lifestyle treatments and OTC antacids, you may want to make an appointment with a doctor. Stronger drugs are available over the counter and by prescription. You may be able to use one or more of them.

Medications for acid reflux and GERD include:

  • H2 blockers, like cimetidine (Tagamet) and femotidine (Pepcid)
  • proton pump inhibitors, like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • drugs that are used third-line or as additional medications if other treatments fail, such as baclofen (Kemstro, Gablofen, Lioresal)

According to a 2021 study, medications used to treat GERD, such as proton pump inhibitors, may increase your risk of adverse side effects, including:

  • kidney, liver, and cardiovascular disease
  • dementia
  • enteroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract
  • susceptibility to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections
  • impaired absorption of nutrients

However, more research is needed to confirm the correlation between GERD medications and these potential side effects.

Surgical options

Surgery is another option if prescription drugs don’t help. Surgical options include:

  • LINX surgery which strengthens the esophageal sphincter using a device made from magnetic titanium beads.
  • Nissen fundoplication which reinforces the esophageal sphincter by wrapping the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus

The practice of yoga, whether in a studio or at home, can help reduce stress. And managing stress my help relieve symptoms of acid reflux and GERD, especially when used in combination with other lifestyle remedies.

If you’re experiencing chronic acid reflux, talk with a doctor to develop a holistic treatment plan that can relieve your symptoms and prevent future complications.