A hiatal hernia is a condition when your “stomach bulges into your chest through an opening in your diaphragm.” (Webmd.com) The most common type is when the lower part of the esophagus and the stomach slide into the chest through that natural hole in the diaphragm. This hole is where only the esophagus and Vagus nerve usually pass.
This condition causes poor digestion and food ferments in the stomach, creating gas or what Taoist medicine would call ‘evil wind.’ The bloated stomach pushes into the diaphragm, enlarging and becoming a hernia. Discomfort increases as more tissue pushes through the weakened hiatal opening. Gastric acid flows back into the esophagus, creating a burning sensation in the upper part of the chest (heart burn).
Shallow breathing can promote the development of a hiatal hernia, as the diaphragm doesn’t move up and down during shallow breathing. The intercostal muscles in the chest do the work during shallow breathing and this can create a vacuum in the chest that brings the stomach up through the hiatal opening.
If you have consistent heart burn, deep breathing can be a place to start for relief. Additionally, the consistent practice of raising the arms above the head, interlacing the fingers, and lifting and looking up can help the stomach return below the diaphragm. Of course, as with any advice on Instagram, check with your physician. But please don’t suffer with this condition when there can be relief from natural and medicinal remedies.
There are 81 practices for building and strengthening the body in The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching: Transforming Your Lead Into Gold