yoga for the hiccups!?

Ask anyone who's ever been around me during an episode and they'll confirm that I get very unusual, violent hiccups. There's no muffling cute little "hic" noises for this girl because my hiccups sound more like some sort of hungry jungle bird. A widely accepted consensus for the animal most closely resembling the sound is...a Velociraptor...and it's embarrassingly accurate.

yoga for the hiccups : wholehearter

Besides the terribly loud noise, my hiccups also manifest at an abnormally fast pace with intense diaphragm spasms. They're painful. And they don't go down without a fight. Holding my breath, chugging water, chewing gum, being startled, swallowing sugar, hanging upside down, and drinking water with a freshly snuffed out match are among a few of the worthless cures I've tried. (I would not have attempted many of these "remedies" on my own, but people try to "help" me...or something.)

Anyway, yoga continues to amaze me as it aids in healing many aches, pains and ailments. I've had luck with yoga helping me in so many ways, so why not hiccups? I tried various pranayama (breathing exercises) such as alternate nostril breathing, ujjayi breath and uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock) to no avail. I had no idea what I was doing, but since hiccups originate in the diaphragm, I knew that some sort of pranayama should work.
Vagus Nerve Image

After a ton of research, I ran across this blog and found that jalandhara bandha is believed to stimulate the vagus nerve. What's the vagus nerve? Apparently, the vagus nerves carry a wide assortment of signals to and from the brain and are responsible for a number of instinctive responses in the body (ie. hiccups). Stimulation of the vagus nerve can be used to treat various medical conditions such as epilepsy (or hiccups)! Interesting stuff.

"The home remedies used to stop hiccups are believed to work on two principles. One way to stifle hiccups is to overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. The vagus nerve signals the brain that more important matters have arisen, so it's time to knock off the hiccups. Other methods interfere with breathing, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. This probably causes the body to become more concerned with getting rid of the carbon dioxide than making hiccups." -

This seemingly explains why some people/hiccups respond to being scared or distracted, while others have luck with breathing in a paper bag or swallowing sugar. Needless to say, during my usual violent inconsolable hiccups, I tried the jalandhara bandha and to my utter amazement, it worked within a few breaths. So for those of you who are like me, please enjoy the following easy instructions next time you get the hiccups!

How To perform jalandhara bandha (chin lock):
*Use caution or seek guidance if you suffer from low blood pressure, respiratory problems or neck injury.

1.) Find a comfortable upright position with a long, straight spine. Press the shoulder blades together to lift the chest upward toward the chin (don't press the ribs forward). Simultaneously, drop the chin toward the chest.

Yoga Journal tip: "Jalandhara requires the chin to rest comfortably on the sternum (neck flexion). Many beginners make the mistake of only lowering the chin; in fact your chin should be met half-way by the elevated sternum."

2.) Lengthen the back of the neck and begin to take deep, long diaphragmatic breaths in and out through the nose, pulling air from the pit of the belly. (Similar to ujjayi breath technique)

3.) Take 5-10 long, slow breaths through the nose with the chin tucked and the sternum lifted. Enjoy the rest of your hiccup-free day! :)

Namaste, people.

Wholehearter on Facebook: Normally, I don’t make a habit of taking pictures of people in savasana, but Zero's not a person. ...
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