Wind problems are easily managed with yogic practices and a few dietary alterations.

Everyone has wind, also called flatus or flatulence. It is a completely natural process for the body to produce gases from its myriad chemical reactions in the digestive system. There comes a point, though, when excessive wind becomes a problem, causing us or others discomfort. One becomes aware of passing more wind from the mouth or anus than usual; perhaps it is accompanied by pain or its odour is exceptionally offensive.

Gas formation

Under normal circumstances a certain amount of air is swallowed with food, drink and saliva. Some gas is belched while the remainder passes into the intestines. Of this, some is absorbed, but most, particularly the nitrogen, is expelled from the rectum. Some gases such as carbon dioxide arc produced in the intestine. Carbohydrate digestion and the interaction of alkaline pancreatic secretions and acid stomach juices form approximately 3 to 4 litres per day, most of which is absorbed. Hydrogen sulphide, which gives the contents of the bowel its peculiar and occasionally offensive smell, can form from proteins, legumes (peas, beans and dal), cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and asparagus.

The major gas areas shown on an X-ray are the stomach and the colon. Very little is seen in the small intestine. In the normal situation, pressure in the stomach is greater than pressure in the chest, so that one would expect any gas to be forced out of the stomach in the form of belching. This is prevented, however, by a sphincter or valve between the stomach and the oesophagus that can withstand this pressure. The stomach can accept a large volume of food without an appreciable rise in pressure, but a heavy meal, large amounts of swallowed gas or carbon dioxide generated by the combination of bicarbonate and gastric acid, increase the pressure. Then, at the next swallow when the sphincter relaxes, belching occurs and gastric contents may be forced upwards.

The gas in the colon is formed from the action of bacteria dissolving the walls of intact fruit and vegetable particles which are composed of cellulose. These particles should have been broken down in cooking or by the teeth so that their contents were released and made available for absorption from the small intestine. People with bad food habits, who arc tense and who rush through their meals, do not break down the cell wall properly as they do not give sufficient time to chewing. As there is no way to digest cellulose above the colon, intact particles move through the intestines until they reach the colon where bacteria which have the capacity to digest cellulose are present. These liberate the cell contents which ferment, releasing gas.

Probably the most common cause of excessive gas is the swallowing of air which may be due to anxiety or the abdominal discomfort of dyspepsia, peptic ulcer or any other process which induces waterbrash and the excessive swallowing of saliva and air For example, many people feel full after eating only a small amount of food and may assume this is due to wind. In actual fact, however most cases are due to dyspepsia, and the desire to belch is a signal from the body that it wants to get rid of this food because it is acting as a toxin. In an attempt to relieve discomfort and release wind, many people take in a little air and then regurgitate it. This becomes a habit, though it brings little relief, and these people still complain of bloating, distension, belching, and so on. Some gas is belched and the rest passes to the intestines.

Taming the wind

Removing wind problems is really quite easy if we follow a few simple, sensible suggestions:

  1. Become aware that you are swallowing air and regurgitating it, and then start remedying the real cause of your discomfort which is dyspepsia.
  2. Chew your food well. The amount of chewing required will vary according to how well it is cooked.
  3. Eat in relative silence. Some people talk during the meal more than they eat, and subsequently take extra air in as they swallow.
  4. Avoid excessive quantities of legumes, beans, lentils and other sulphur containing foods. The ideal ratio is 1 part legumes to 4 parts grain. In this way we gain the optimal amount of protein with the least amount of sulphur released so that less hydrogen sulphide is formed.

Wind sadhana

The following practices will greatly alleviate wind problems.

Select those which suit you best.

  • Hatha Yoga: Kunjal and neti, vyaghra kriya, agnisara kriya, nauli, basti, shankhaprakshalana (under guidance) and laghoo shankhaprakshalana.
  • Asanas: Pawanmuktasana part II, suryanamaskara, vajrasana (especially after meals), shashankasana, ardha matsyendrasana, bhujangasana, paschimottanasana.
  • Pranayama: Nadi shodhana, bhramari, ujjayi.
  • Meditation: Yoga nidra.