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Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias are protrusions of soft tissue, such as a portion of the intestine, through a weak spot in a muscle, usually in the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias occur where the abdomen meets the thigh in the groin region. Anyone can have an inguinal hernia. Men, women and even children of all ages experience hernias. Inguinal hernias account for about 80% of all hernias and are the most common surgical procedures done in infancy. Typically men are about 10 times more likely to get an inguinal hernia than women

Hernias are weaknesses or tears in the wall of the abdomen They typically occur two ways: first, by wear and tear over time (acquired hernias) and secondly from a weakness in the abdominal wall that is present at birth (congenital hernia). The danger from herniation arises when the organ protruding through the opening is constricted to the extent that circulation is stopped or when the protruding organ impairs the function of other structures. In males, they are caused by an improper closure of the abdominal cavity during the body's development in the womb. They can also be caused by an increase in pressure within the abdominal cavity due to heavy lifting, straining, violent coughing, obesity or pregnancy

What are the symptoms of hernia?

  • Lump in groin area when standing/straining & disappears when reclining

  • Pain at the site of the lump, especially when lifting a heavy object

  • Swelling of the scrotum

  • Excruciating abdominal pain (if you have strangulation)

  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite & pain (if intestinal obstruction occurs)

If the hernia can be pushed back into the abdominal cavity, it is referred to as a reducible hernia, which while not an immediate health threat, will require surgery to disappear. If it cannot be pushed back, it is non-reducible. This is a condition that may lead to dangerous complications such as the obstruction of the flow of the intestinal contents or intestinal blood supply (strangulation), leading to tissue death. Intestinal obstruction produces nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, is very painful and requires immediate surgery.

While most hernias are easily treated, in about one in ten people, even after treatment they may return and need to be repaired again. Recurrent hernias are not an indication of your surgeon's ability, but indicate poor tissue healing or trauma to the site of the repair.

What is the treatment?

Patients with inguinal hernias can wear a special type of belt, called a truss, to support the hernia and keep it from bulging out. They should also avoid any activities that cause abdominal strain. However, most patients elect surgery to repair inguinal hernias and avoid the possibility of a strangulated hernia. The procedure to repair a hernia involves pushing the piece of intestine back into place and repairing the abdominal wall so the intestine cannot push through again. .

What is the yogic remedy for inguinal hernia?

Constipation, chronic cough and sneezing are aggravating factors; hence avoid constipation by taking healthy Satvic food. Fresh cooked vegetarian diet with minimal spices, plenty of salads, cooked (boiled) vegetables, etc., extra fluids (water, soups, juices and buttermilk) fibre (fruits, vegetables, bran) may be required if you have chronic constipation.

Get rid of coughing and sneezing. If this is due to allergy, yoga techniques will help in treating the colds and cough too.

Yoga practices are very useful in reducing the symptoms of hernia such as heaviness, fullness and pain. Yoga can help only in early stage of hernia when it is just a small bulge and reducible. When it is irreducible and big yoga cannot help.

It is important to know what are the practices that are not good for hernia. Amongst the physical practices avoid all dynamics; avoid pascimattanasana, dhanurasana, chakrasana; Avoid fast abdominal breathing (as in kapalabhati, mukhadhouti & bhastrika)

Most useful practices for treatment of hernia are the inverted postures (Viparitakarini, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana). Navasana and Ardhanavasana are very useful in strengthening the abdominal muscles. Hence we recommend that you practice deep abdominal breathing followed by AAA chanting while you are maintaining in Viaritakarani with wall support (about 5 minutes) at least thrice a day on empty stomach which can show remarkable results within a short time.

If the symptoms do not go away and the swelling continues to increase in spite of regular yogic care you may have to decide to undergo surgery.

Ardha Navasana

Ardha means half. Nava is a ship, boat or vessel. This posture resembles the shape of a boat, hence the name.


  1. Sit on the floor. Stretch the legs out in front and keep them straight.

  2. Interlock the fingers and place them on the back of the head just above the neck.

  3. Exhale, recline the trunk back and simultaneously raise the legs from the floor, keeping the knees tight and the toes pointed. The balance of the body rests on the buttocks and no part of the spine should be allowed to touch the floor. One feels the grip on the muscles of the abdomen and the lower back.

  4. Keep the legs at an angle about 30 to 35 degrees from the floor and the crown of the head in line with the toes.

  5. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds with normal breathing. A sty for one minute in this posture indicates strong abdominal muscles.

  6. Do not hold the breath during this asana, though the tendency is always to do it with suspension of breath after inhalation. If the breath is held, the effect will be felt on the stomach muscles and not on the abdominal organs. Deep inhalation in this asana would loosen the grip on the abdominal muscles. In order to maintain this grip, inhale, exhale and hold the breath and go on repeating this process but without breathing deeply. This will exercise not only the abdominal muscles but the organs also.

Benefits :

To maintain the body in Navasana and Ardhanavasana, the important muscles involved are the abdominal muscles and the back muscles. Maintenance the final posture is a very strong but harmless exercise to strengthen the lower abdominal muscles. This is to be avoided by persons with small umbilical hernia.

This article has been written by Dr. R. Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga & Life-sciences, SVYASA
This article is published online courtesy
and Arogyadhama

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