The skin covers the entire human body and beneath i t lays layers of muscle. Under this layer are the bone tissues. In the abdom inal cavity there are many organs namely the stomach, small and large intestines, liv er, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, rectum, uterus and ovaries. Behind this cavity is t he vertebral column and the along side are strong muscles. All of these organs are ab le to function efficiently because they are safely situated in the abdominal cavity. I f for some reasons these muscles lose their elasticity, a part of the small intestin e may bulge out from a gap formed between muscles and which will cause a swelling to be formed under the skin. This is called a hernia.
The small intestine is a flexible pipe of about 1-1 .5 inches thick. A swelling is seen beneath the skin when a small part of this int estine peeps out. There is no trouble experienced and passage of food continues through t he digestive tract. There are times when a larger part of the intestine bulges out and is pushed due to the muscles obstructing the food from passing. In these cases s urgery has to be performed as soon as possible and the intestine has to be replaced in its proper position attached to the outer muscle.
There are several possible areas from where a part of the intestine may possibly bulge. The first one is in males where it may bulge from the scrotum and increase the size of testicles. In this case it mus t be properly diagnosed before treating to ensure that it is in fact hernia and not simply a swelling of the testicles due to water retention in that area. Another type is an inguinal hernia, which is common in and found in the inguinal region; where the vessels sup plying blood to the feet enters the thigh. A hernia may also take place in the umbilica l region where the muscles are comparatively weak.
This bulging of the intestine can be cured through the practice of yoga when it is in the primary stage. The problem here is that t he patient often does not experience any trouble and tends to ignore it. Later when it h as progressed to where part of the intestine is pressed, there is no other alternative to surgery. Yoga must be practiced immediately after hernia is diagnosed. There are ce rtain asanas that can be helpful but also some that can be dangerous for hernia. Hence y oga has to be practiced under the guidance of an expert.
What we can deduct from hernia is that when a part of the intestine bulges from the muscles, it is because the muscles have be come weak. The loss of elasticity in the abdominal area is the leading cause of herni a. The unnecessary and improper movement of the body; especially lifting heavy obje cts with jerky or twisted actions, can harm the muscles and cause them to be damaged. This is one of the leading causes of hernia in persons of a young age.
The abdomen is pressed in some patients and the int estine comes out of the muscles. A hernia may develop from a prolonged coug h or be the result of using unnecessary force while passing urine. In cases of indigestion and/or constipation, straining while trying to defecate may cause an inn er pressure emerging hernia. Other contributing factors could be the abdominal pressur es that increase due to obesity, over-eating, and in females pregnancy and delivery. All of these could weaken the abdominal muscles resulting in hernia. Also, consta ntly being in the sitting position and lack of exercise are also causes of hernia.
It is evident from the nature of the disease that m edicines are of no use. In the primary stage of hernia, special braces that suppor t the muscles may be used. This may press the bulged intestinal part back inward. P rolonged support from braces may actually repair the abdominal muscles and cure the hernia. However, in cases where the hernia progress, surgery becomes the only measu re and the bulging part is pushed inside and the muscles are stitched. This reduces t he possibility of recurrence of the disease.
The selection of the asanas should be done carefull y as hernia is the weakness of the abdominal muscles. Asanas in the prone posit ion should be strictly avoided. Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Naukasana may cause trouble to the hernia patient.
To begin, the body movement exercises in the Yoga S anjeevan course are very useful. Further, Uttanpadasana, Vipareet Karani, Sa rvangasana, Halasana, Matsyasana, Pavanmuktasana, Vajrasana, Supta Vajras ana and Ushtrasana are beneficial.
Cleansing processes like Agnisar, Uddiyan Bandha an d Kapalbhati prove helpful. Mudras like Ashwini Mudra and Traatak are beneficial to some extent. These are fairly difficult for a newcomer and must be tau ght in steps.
Yoga Nidra acts like a supporting agent in this dis ease.
A patient with hernia should avoid lifting weights, jumping, running and any hasty movements. Also, being careful to not strain while urinating or defecating is imperative. One should avoid eating non- vegetarian food or a heavy diet. When eating it is best to not eat until completely full to prevent the sensation of heaviness from being created in the stomach. Have light meals in an optimum quantity. Fasting once in a week is also beneficial.
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