Ventral hernia refers to hernia in the abdomen. Think of your
abdomen as a big bag or a box containing many structures well packed and set
into the small space called abdominal cavity. Solid structure like spleen,
liver, kidneys and pancreas are all packed in the upper and back part of the
cavity loose, mobile tubes of intestines (32 feet) and stomach are loosely
coiled into the central and front space.
Looking at the material with which the box is made of, the
back wall is very tough with bones thick muscles of the spine. Upper wall is the
moving dome of muscle the diaphragm useful for breathing. The side walls are
well supported by the ribs and pelvic bones connected by thick muscles. The
front wall is the moving anterior abdominal wall made of only soft tissues. The
two major layers are the flat sheets of muscles covered by the varying thickness
of fat with an inner lining of peritoneum and outer lining of skin. These
abdominal muscles consists of sheets and bands of muscles which are attached to
the ribs above and pelvic bone below.
Ventral or abdominal hernia occurs if these muscles become
weak and loose their strength or if there is a hole (gap) in these muscles. This
hole or gap (even if the entire sheet of muscle) usually occurs in the naval,
which is the natural passage through which the umbilical cord was connected to
the mother, when you were in the womb. This gap may also occur through a
surgical cut, if the muscle in the suture line does not heal perfectly (called
incisional hernia). The incisional hernia can occur if the surgical tear in the
abdomen took longer than expected to heel due to infection or if stitches give
way during coughing or sneezing within 2 weeks after the surgery. Excessive fat
on abdomen and weakness of the abdominal muscles (with or without a surgical
sear) are the commonest factors that cause ventral hernia. The reason for this
is lack of exercise. Any muscle in the body becomes weak and thinned out if you
do not exercise it regularly. The exercise that keeps the abdomen strong are
forward body bending exercises. In the present day sedentary life style with
enough gadgets available for transport, kitchen and cleaning work there is very
little need for you to use the abdominal muscles. Hence unused abdominal muscles
become too weak and thin.
What is the remedy? How to prevent abdominal hernia?
Prevention is better than cure.
Treat chronic cough if you have it.
Reduce excess weight in general and abdominal fat in
Practice bending exercises regularly including
Suryanamaskar daily for 30 minutes.
Start exercises within first week after any abdominal
What are the yogic practices to prevent abdominal
Yoga practices which contracts the abdominal muscles help in
preventing the abdominal hernia. Suryanamaskara, Loosening exercise including
forward backward bending, straight leg raising (alternate and both), Navasana,
Dhanurasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana followed by Deep relaxation, Kapalabhati,
Sectional breathing, AAA chanting before meditation (total 30 minutes).
Immediate post operative period on the 2nd day of surgery start with practices
of abdominal breathing with AAA chanting (10 minutes) 4 times a day, after 4
days start straight leg raising (alternative legs only) with breathing (21
repetitions 4 times a day). Head lifting or dorsal stretch also helps in
strengthening the abdomen.
In the chronic stage where the incisional hernia is well set
and you wish to avoid surgery or prepare for an effective surgery you need to do
the practices very regularly. Dieting and regular walking for weight reduction
is an essential prerequisite. If the hernia is big and protruding too much you
may have to practice yoga with the supporting corset belt on. After you feel
stronger it is better to practice without abdominal support corset.
Avoid fast practices of jogging, forward bending or side
bending, Sit-ups, Sputa vajrasana, start with practices in supine (flat on your
back) posture. Alternate straight leg raising (repeat 4 to 5 times/ day), Ardha
navasana (head lifting 20x5 times/ day). In viparitha karani with wall support
do deep abdominal breathing (9 rounds). AAA chanting (9 rounds) and kapalabhati
at 40 strokes per minute. Repeat this practice 2 times a day other asanas are
Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana, Padhastasana, Ardhacakrasana,
Paschimottanasana, Sasankasana, Shavasana, Pranayamas include sectional
breathing, Suryanuloma viloma (if you are overweight and not hypertensive or
This should help you to strengthen the abdominal and this will overcome the
problem of incisional hernia or lax abdominal. If there is a narrow hole
umbilical hernia with normal abdominal muscles and body weight it may be
possible to overcome this through yoga.
EKA PADA SARVANGASANA
Eka means one, single. Pada means the foot. In this variation
of Sarvangasana, one leg is on the floor in Halasana, while the other is in a
vertical position along with the trunk.
Sthithi : Lie flat on the back, legs stretched out, tighten
at the knees, hands by the side of the body.
Exhale, bend the knees and move the legs towards the
stomach till the thighs press it.
Raise the hips from the floor with an exhalation and rest
the hands on them by bending the arms at the elbows.
Raise the trunk up perpendicularly supported by the hands
until the chest touches the chin. Shoulders and the back of the arms up to
the elbows should rest on the floor. Stretch the legs straight with toes
pointing up (Sarvangasana).
Keep the left leg up in Sarvangasana. Exhale and move the
right leg down to the floor to Halasana. Right leg should be remain stiff
and straight and not bend at the knee. Left leg should be kept straight,
facing the head.
While resting the right leg on the floor, the left knee
should bee kept taut and not allowed to tilt sideways. The left leg should
be kept straight, facing the head.
This asana tones the kidneys and the leg muscles.