Yoga Therapy for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be a social nuisance and a health hazard. You may have noticed some people snore hap, then stop abruptly for a few seconds, wake up sleep again and start snoring. This is indicative of obstructive sleep apnea. When it is associated with stoppage of breathing (sleep Apnea), it can lead to Heart problems, High BP, Diabetes, and even Stroke. Snoring occurs when flow of air is blocked because of excess tissue in the nose, mouth or throat. As the air passes through these tissues, vibrations are created. Main reasons for snoring are being overweight or due to old age. Drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills, sleeping on your back, colds or smoking also makes you snore
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs in loud snorer. Muscles in the back of the throat and tongue relax, and our airway becomes blocked. As a result, oxygen is not taken in and carbon dioxide in the blood builds to dangerous levels. It is like pressing a pillow over someone’s face.
Though there are surgical procedures available to cure snoring, but it is advisable to conservative management before going for surgery. Most of the people who snore can benefit by simply losing weight through regular exercise and taking proper diet. Without weight, other natural methods to cure snoring may not work. However you have to be patient and keep exercising. Trying to sleep on your side can also help. Raise your head a bit by sleeping with an extra pillow.
CPAP and Surgery
There are two main options you have for complete cure. First option is using CPAP (It is a machine which forces air into your lungs thru a face mask strapped on your head, like a ventilator). A second option is surgery in which surgeon cut away or otherwise shrink tissues in the nose and throat causing blockage.
There are many things patent can help themselves -Loosing weight, avoiding sleeping on your back, consuming a healthy diet, and Yoga exercises etc.
Can Yoga cure your snoring and sleep apnea?
Yoga practice and mediation are effective in curing snoring. It can help reduce the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea to a great extent. Proper breathing and exercises improves the muscle tone in the throat and air passages, but it should be done in proper way under the guidance of a yoga teacher. Yoga practice regulates the breathing and helps to balance the chakra centers and the nerves. Yoga reduces the stress levels by keeping your body relaxed throughout the day.
Practice pranayama or yogic breathing which helps to clear the nasal passages. Pranayama refers to breathing exercises which form an important part of yoga. Ujjayi Pranayama (Hissing Breath) is a method of yogic breathing which helps to get rid of obstructions in the throat and also improves lung capacity. To perform this breathing technique, sit in a comfortable cross legged position, close your eyes and breathe deeply through the nose. Once your body is relaxed, inhale with force through the nostrils. Contract the muscles of the neck so that a low, raspy sound is produced. Hold the breath for as long as you can and then close one nostril as you exhale from the other. Repeat the steps with the other nostril. This breathing exercise may be practiced about 5 times daily. Yoga for sleep apnea may also be practiced. Reciting the mantra OM – Sit in sukhasana on a yoga mat keeping your head and spine straight and upright. Place both the hands on your knees in jyanamudra. Relax your whole body, close your eyes and recite the word OM loudly.
Ujjayi Pranayama: Pranayama is a term that refers to the breathing techniques that are taught as a part of yoga. Ujjayi Pranayama, or the Hissing Breath, increases the capacity of your lungs and removes any blockages in your throat. It is a good exercise for snorers.
To perform this breathing exercise, sit down in the Padma Asana (Lotus Pose). Start to breathe deeply through your nostrils and close your eyes, until your body enters a state of calm. Now inhale forcefully through both the nostrils, contracting your neck muscles to produce a low, throbbing sound.
Hold this inhaled breath for as long as you can. Now close one of your nostrils with your fingers and slowly exhale through the other nostril. Repeat this process with the other nostril. This breathing exercise for snoring should be performed at least three to five times every day.
Other Asanas for snoring patients. Many Asanas that help in weight loss are particularly helpful.
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Tadasana,Pawanmukta asana, Bhujang asana (Cobra pose), Shalabhasana (Locust Pose), Uttanpada asana, Sarp asana (Snake Pose) and Vajrasana (Diamond Pose). Simhasana (Lion Pose) is recommended as it benefits eyes, nose and throat.
How to practice the lion pose, or simhasana. This exercise helps to relax your mind and body, as well as clear your nasal passage and stimulate the muscles located at the front of your throat. This is one such beneficial yoga poses that relieves nasal snoring. To perform this pose, sit on the floor with your legs folded under your body and your hips resting on your heels. Spread the thighs and place your palms on the floor between the knees. The wrists should be pointed outwards and the fingers inwards towards the body. Lean forward, tilt the head back and inhale deeply. Open the mouth, extend the tongue out and exhale with a growling sound. Repeat this twice or thrice.
Yoga after Surgery
I always tell my patients who undergo treatment for snoring and sleep apnea to do breathing exercises, in particular Yoga. This gives extra tone for the upper airway muscles.
It is advisable to take few lessons from a Yoga teacher before starting the exercises.
Please watch the video clip below:
(Courtesy Yogamaster Raj.Wellness Centre)