By Bhavan Kumar
Is there a way to teach yoga for nausea? Yes, and the battle against nausea is being fought by patients recovering from cancer and chemotherapy. In many ways, a yoga instructor can have a healthy impact on his or her student’s lives. As a yoga instructor, you can provide students with information, solutions, and remedies for many of the problems we all face in life. Each of us has had a feeling of sickness in the stomach at one time or another. Some people experience feelings of sickness in the stomach more than others. For some it can be a flare up, while others have chronic feelings of sickness, and some of us are struggle to recover from cancer.
Nausea can be an unwelcome side effect of a number of ailments, from overeating to pregnancy. When nausea strikes, it is hard to focus on anything else or make it through the day. Medications or certain foods can sometimes relieve feelings of sickness. There are also a few yoga postures and breathing exercises that will help prevent nausea or alleviate the symptoms.
When you fill up the entire abdomen with oxygen, the abdominal muscles can release and allow the diaphragm muscles to relax. This will help to alleviate feelings of sickness in the stomach. To perform deep breathing, inhale slowly through the nose as the belly begins to protrude with air. Pull the air in until it reaches all the way up to your chest cavity and you can’t inhale anymore. Hold the breath inside for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Push the air out by slowly pulling the belly button inward. You can repeat this breath several times, up to about 15 minutes. Repeat a few times a day if the nausea returns.
Downward-Facing Easy Pose
Sit in easy pose (Sukasana)with your legs crossed. Bend forward from the hips, reaching out the arms to rest on a pillow or chair. Breathe deeply and evenly for about two minutes. Repeat as necessary.
Legs up the Wall Pose – Viparita Karani
To relieve nausea, lie on the floor next to a wall. Lift up both legs so they rest against the wall, placing your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Your body will form a 90-degree angle. Support the hips by placing a bolster or pillow under them. Breathe and relax for eight minutes or more.
Reclining Hero Pose – Supta Virasana
This posture is not a back bend, might not work for everyone, and needs props. This pose is a supine asana (on your back) and the procedure for getting into it requires reclining, which may not agree with nausea. That said, look at this as an option that works sometimes. It is included because of the positive results some practitioners receive by practicing Supta Virasana. We suggest bolsters at 45 degrees to support the back.
Release the pressure off the stomach and liver with this pose. Sit on your knees with your bottom resting on your feet. Very carefully, recline your upper body back by leaning back from the waist. Rest the head and shoulders on the bolster. Use bolsters, blankets, pillow, blocks, and/or a wall to make the pose more stable and comfortable. Holding for one minute is the usual amount of time. Some students will prefer a little more or less. So, leave it up to the students to decide how they feel about time and give them the option to skip this pose.
Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana
Sit in a comfortable position, and then draw the soles of the feet together. Try to rest the heels as close to the pelvis as possible. Pull the feet in toward the body with the hands, holding them where it is comfortable. Hold for several minutes. You may also recline while performing bound angle pose onto a pillow or bolster.
Tips for Students
No two people are alike. What works for one might not work for the other. Be careful with any yoga poses that involve bending backwards when you experience nausea as this can worsen the condition. Go by your own body awareness. Do not allow yourself to be pushed by a teacher or video. Move at a moderate to slow pace. Flowing movements should only be practiced slowly and there may be some days when flowing movement is not in your best interest. Room or outdoor temperatures should be moderate.
Notes for Yoga Teachers
Although, I mentioned only one pranayama technique about yoga for nausea. Most techniques will work unless they are dynamic and forceful. Therefore, gently practice your favorite technique and you will notice some improvements. The following suggestions are my personal favorites: Dirgha, Brahmari, Udgeeth, Nadi Shodhana, and Udgeeth. However, please feel free to try your personal favorites and advise your students to practice them gently.
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