Relieve A Stomach Ache With This Strange 'Taco Breath' Breathing Exercise

Stomach pain caused by indigestion, acidity, or even IBS symptoms can be uncomfortable. It's never a good time when you feel bloated and your abdominal area is cramping up. 

For those of you who don't want to turn to painkillers as a remedy, there's a breathing exercise from Kundalini yoga called the Sitali Pranayama (also referred to as the taco breath) that you can try. It's all about curling your tongue — like a taco — and breathing in through it and exhaling through your nose. Turns out that this is a cool hack you can turn to if you get stomach cramps, according to Atman Smith, co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation (via HuffPost). 

"The taco breath is one of the few breaths that we teach where you inhale through your mouth, and you actually have to curl your tongue and inhale through your tongue like it's a straw ... It soothes any stomach aches ... and it's good for arthritis," explained Smith. Here's what a taco breath does for your body and mind. 

The taco breath works by cooling your body

Sitali Pranayama, also known as the taco tongue breath or simply the cooling breath, helps cool down your mind and body, according to yoga practitioners. Your nervous system is what this breathing technique targets, and it's great for soothing an angry or agitated mind, too. While there is more to uncover about the brain-gut link, there is some evidence suggesting that your gut's brain (known as the enteric nervous system, or ENS) and the brain in your skull communicate (via Johns Hopkins Medicine).

Taco breath isn't the only form of yoga that's used to relieve stomach pain. In fact, breathing exercises, which are a central theme of the Indian practice of yoga, have been used to relieve IBS symptoms as well. The mindful and centering effects of yoga have been known to reduce gastrointestinal discomfort, regulate your nervous system, and reduce stress, per The IBS Dietician. This can be beneficial for IBS. "Sometimes, a low-FODMAP diet alone isn't enough to take away all your tummy troubles. Yoga is a great way to improve your symptoms, while reducing stress, and improving flexibility," shared pelvic reconstructive surgeon Dr. Rachel Pauls

Now that you know you can curl your tongue to look like a popular Mexican food, breathe in and out, and bid goodbye to a stomach ache, here's how you can practice this breathing technique.  

How to do the taco breath

Begin by sitting up straight. Make sure your back, neck, and head are aligned. Finding length in your spine can be beneficial during this breathing exercise. Keep your feet flat on the floor and curl your tongue like a taco. (You may want to practice this in front of a mirror to see if you're doing it right before you sit down to try the taco breath). Once you've got the tongue technique, imagine that you're sucking on a straw and inhale. "Then you swallow the breath while you're holding onto the breath, and then you exhale through your nose, pulling your bellybutton to your spine — a long, slow, deep breath," according to Atman Smith (via HuffPost).

For those of you who can't roll your tongue to look like a taco, you can try the hissing teeth breath (Sitkari Pranayama), as shared by yoga teacher Esther Ekhart of EkhartYoga. Keep your teeth closed and inhale through your mouth. A closer alteration to the actual taco tongue is to just stick it in between your lips and try the breathing technique (via Yoga With Adriene).

All causes of stomach pain aren't made equal, however, so it might be worth visiting your healthcare professional if you have persistent discomfort or you think something more serious is going on. Bowel obstruction, stomach infections, kidney stones, pancreatitis, cysts in the stomach, and appendicitis can also manifest as stomach aches, per Medical News Today.