Yoga Therapy for Ear Disorder

Aug 13th, 2017
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In every activity in our daily life, we communicate with Panch Maha Bhuthas (The Five Elements). This is communicated either automatically or through reflex action. In other words, we do not have any conscious recollection or awareness of this communication. We will only notice it when we encounter a problem. The ear is one of the most important tools of contact, both to the external world and internally. Human beings generally have a very good hearing range; audible range of frequencies is usually from 20 to 20,000 Hz. This varies with different individuals, especially at high frequencies. There is a gradual decline with age.

According to yogic science, anything that one recognises with any of the five senses – smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing – is a “living being”. With body, mind, ego, the intellect and principle of consciousness, the five great elements – earth (prithvi), water (aap), fire (tej), air (vayu) and space (aakasha) – are the living being known in the scriptures as Pancha (five) Maha Bhuthas (Great Being).

Anatomy of the Ear

There are three main parts in the ear: outer, middle and the inner, which are all necessary for hearing. Sound waves come in through the outer ear into the middle ear, where they make the eardrum vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted through three tiny bones, called ossicles, in the middle ear. The vibrations travel to the inner ear, a snail-shaped organ. The inner ear then makes the nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. The brain recognises them as sounds. The inner ear also controls balance.

Ear Disorders

There are many different types of ear disorders.
The following are some common ones:
1. Vestibular System Disorder The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result. Vestibular disorders can also result from. It can be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons.

2. Middle Ear Infections Middle ear infections are one of the most common childhood problems. An infection happens when germs like bacteria and viruses get inside the body. Germs can get into the ears. When the germs bother the outer ear, it’s called swimmer’s ear. Further, the middle ear is a small pocket of air behind the eardrum. One will suffer from middle ear infection when germs get into the middle ear and the area fills up with fluid (pus), which contains germ-fighting cells. When the pus builds up, the ear starts to feel like a balloon that is ready to pop, which can be an acute pain.

3. Meniere’s Disease Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo (a sensation of a spinning motion) along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. In many cases, Meniere’s disease affects only one ear and is a common cause of hearing loss.

4. Otitis Disorder Otitis is a general term for infection or inflammation of the ear. Otitis can affect the inner or outer parts of the ear. The condition is classified according to whether it occurs suddenly and for a short time (acute) or repeatedly over a long period of time (chronic). When otitis involves the outer ear and ear canal, it is called otitis external or often called swimmer’s ear. A more severe form can spread into the bones and cartilage around the ear. When otitis involves the middle ear, located just behind the eardrum, it is called otitis media, or ear infection.

5. Deafness or Hearing Disorder Deafness is the inability to hear as well as someone with normal hearing. Hearing impaired people can be hard of hearing (“HOH”) or hearing impairment. If a person cannot hear at all, then they have deafness. Hearing impairment may be inherited, caused by maternal rubella or complications at birth, certain infectious diseases such as meningitis, use of ototoxic drugs, exposure to excessive noise and ageing. About half of all deafness and hearing impairment can be prevented if common causes were dealt with at primary health care level.

6. Otosclerosis Otosclerosis is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that causes hearing loss. People who have otosclerosis have an abnormal sponge-like bone growing in the middle ear. This growth prevents the ear bones from vibrating in response to sound waves. Such vibrations are needed for hearing. Otosclerosis is the most common cause of middle ear hearing loss in young adults mostly in early to mid-adulthood. It is more common in women than in men. The condition may affect one or both ears. Risks for this condition include pregnancy and a family history of hearing loss.

7. Airplane ear Airplane ear is the stress exerted on the eardrum and other middle ear tissues when the air pressure in the middle ear and the air pressure in the environment are out of balance. One may experience airplane ear at the beginning of a flight when the airplane is climbing or at the end of a flight when the airplane is descending. These fast changes in altitude cause air pressure changes and can trigger airplane ear.

Causes

Ear disorder could be caused by the following:
• Heredity
• Diseases such as ear infection and meningitis
• Trauma
• Certain medicines
• Long-term exposure to loud noise
• Aging Yoga Therapy

The cognitive organs of the body is called Dnyanendriya – organ of perception, which includes ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin. The ears are probably the second most complex sensory organ of perception; the eyes being the first. Hearing is an important way of input to our brains. We acquire most of our knowledge through listening. The ears play a very important role in achieving our sense of balance, such as in an asana practice – be it Tadasana (standing still), Sirsasana (headstand) or other yoga poses. Further, we have to listen to the sound of our breaths to master pranayama.

Yoga therapy for ear disorder is all about knowing how to deal and prevent further ear problems.

WThe following asanas and pranayama help us to understand and deal with the issue.

 Karnapidasana (Ear Pressure Pose)
This is a variation of Halasana (Plough Pose).

1.Get into Halasana and stay in the pose for about 30 seconds with legs extended straight and joint together.
2. Bend the knees, resting them by the side of the ears.
3. Press both knees against the ears and rest them on the floor if possible, with toes stretched back.
4. Either keep the palms supporting behind the back of the ribs or press the palms on the floor to lift the pelvis up.
5. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a minute with normal breathing.

Benefit : The spine is stretched and it controls the pressure in the ears for balancing.

Sukshma Vyayama Kriya (Subtle Exercise for ears)
1. Sit in a comfortable posture like Padmasana (lotus pose) or Sukhasana (Easy cross legged pose). Keep the back erect and rigid.
2. Join the palms with all fingers touching each other and the palms spreading open.
3. Raise the head up slightly and use the thumbs to close both nostrils.
4. Inhale through the mouth, drinking or swallowing the breath to fill the abdomen, chest and mouth.
5. Tuck in the chin and touch the little fingers in the middle of the chest. Perform Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock) and Mula Bandha (Root Lock).
6. Stay for about 10-30 seconds. Let the air escape through Eustachain tube (inner ear).

Benefit : The eustachian tube (pharyngotympanic tube) connects the middle ear cavity with the nasopharynx. It aerates the middle ear system and clears mucus from the middle ear into the nasopharynx. Opening and closing functions of the eustachian tube are physiologically and pathologically important. Normal opening of the eustachian tube equalises atmospheric pressure in the middle ear; closing of the eustachian tube protects the middle ear from unwanted pressure fluctuations and loud sounds. Mucociliary clearance drains mucus away from the middle ear into the nasopharynx, thus preventing infection from ascending to the middle ear.

Bhamari Pranayama (Honey Bee Breathing)

1. Sit in a comfortable asana like Padmasana or Sukhasana.
2. Bend the knees, resting them by the side of the ears.
3. Close the ears with the palms with the thumbs facing down towards the shoulders.
4. Press the heels of the palms on the temple.
5. Inhale deeply; then exhale softly with humming sound like the murmuring of the bee.
6. Repeat this for about 5 minutes to vibrate the eardrum.

Benefit: The eardrum transmits sound from the air to the ossicles inside the middle ear, and then to the oval window in the fluid-filled cochlea (auditory portion of the inner ear). Hence, it ultimately converts and amplifies vibration in air to vibration in fluid.

Sanmukhi Mudra (Six-headed God Mudra)

1. Sit in Padmasana or Sukhasana.
2. Raise the hands towards the face, lifting the elbows.
3.Close the ear holes with the thumbs; place the index fingers on the eyelids; close both the nostrils partially and equally with the middle fingers; and place the ring fingers and the little fingers on the upper and the lower lips.
4. Stay in the position as long as possible, drawing the vision inwards with rhythmic breathing.

Benefit: This brings a sense of harmony in the body and the mind. Pressing the outer ear benefits the external auditory canal (outer ear), which is very vital for hearing because it is the very most superficial layer of the eardrum, regulates the over all function of the ear from forming wax and pus.

Haakara (Sound Haa Pranayama)

1. Sit in a comfortable posture like Padmasana or Sukhasana. Keep the back erect.
2. Stretch the arms out and rest the back of the wrists on the knees.
3. Join the tips of the index finger and the thumbs, extend the other finger in Jnana Mudra.
4. Keep the eyes closed and exhale completely.
5. Take a steady and deep breath through both nostrils.
6. Exhale slowly through the mouth with a “haa” sound. This sound should be heard and the breath should be felt in the roof of the palate in the mouth.
7. Repeat this for about 5-10 minutes.

Benefit: This pranayama soothes the nerves and improves the regulation of the air (prana) to the ear.

Makarasana (Corcodile Pose)

1.Lie down on the stomach.
2.Bend the right leg knee to the right side with the hip and foot turned outwards, while keeping the left leg straight. .
3. Place the right palm down on the floor supporting the head and turn the face to the left.
4. Bend the left elbow and position it slightly away from the left shoulder.
5. The right ear rests on the right hand. Maintain the pose with normal breathing for about 2-3 minutes.
6. Repeat the same on the other side.

Benefit : This pose provides an overall relaxation to the body, especially if there is an acute pain in the ear. It will balance the both the ear, relieves a block in the ear and remove any water or fluid from the ear.

Conclusion We should take good care of our ears, given it plays an important role in our lives. Avoid staying in a noisy environment for a long time. Avoid using headphones and bluetooth for long hours; do not listen to music at a very high volume. Our ears need silence. Practise yoga nidra or silent meditation for few minutes a day. Stay in a quiet place for a while; it is a great relief for the ear. The most common causes of ruptured eardrum and other ear damage is putting an object into the ear, for instance, to clean the wax with ear picks or to relieve itchy ears. As soon as we suspect hearing loss or notice sudden changes in hearing or ear pain, consult an otologist. Therapeutically, practice of pranayama and asanas help us prevent damages and maintain healthy ears. Through practice, the breath and Prana can do wonders to ensure proper functioning of the ears. Yoga therapy, under the guidance of a yoga teacher, helps address ear disorders.

Asana Journal

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