Yoga Therapy for Snoring

Sep 16th, 2017
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While we sleep, our bodies should be resting completely without any trouble or strain. However, with our busy and hectic life styles, sometimes we may neither be aware nor bothered about defaults in the body. When the routine life style is disturbed, it affects functioning of the body.

Snoring is a sign of unnatural or malfunction of the physical activities and happens due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. This could ruin a relationship and affect a good night’s sleep. It is therefore important to take some measures to prevent and cure it.

How Snoring Happens

Snoring occurs when a person makes a snorting or rattling noise during breathing while sleeping. It is the sound of blocked breathing.

The noise comes from vibration of the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat. Like all other sounds, it results in vibrations that cause particles in the air to form sound waves.

Tissues at the top of the airway that strike each other and vibrate, causing the sound. During sleep, turbulent airflow can cause the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate, thereby giving rise to snoring.

Some people snore infrequently and the sound they make is not particularly loud, while others may snore every night, loud enough to be heard in the next room. Body size however, does not matter.

Anatomy of Upper Airway System

The natural way of proper breathing is to breathe through the nose. The nose acts as a humidifier, heater, and filters the dust and foreign particles from the incoming air. Normally, we either run short of breath or feel uncomfortable, then we breathe through the mouth.

The nose is made up of two parallel passages, one on each side, called the nasal cavity. A thin wall in the middle, the septum, which is a relatively flat wall of cartilage, bone, and lining tissue called the nasal mucosa, separates them. On the lateral side closer to the cheeks, on the wall of the each nasal passage there are three nasal turbinates, which are long, cylindrical-shaped structures that lie roughly parallel to the floor of the nose.

The turbinates contain many small blood vessels that function to regulate airflow. If the blood vessels in the turbinates increase in size or swells, the flow of air decreases. If the blood vessels narrow, the turbinates become smaller and airflow increases.

The roof of the mouth is called the palate. In the front, the palate is made of bone and is called the hard palate.

Farther back where the bone ends, and the palate is made up of soft tissue called the soft palate.

The small tag of tissue that hangs down in the middle of the soft palate is the uvula. The soft palate and uvula is extremely important in preventing food and liquids from going back up into the nose when we swallow. It helps to prevent excessive airflow through the nose during speech. Certain languages require the uvula in order to produce vibrations or sounds specific to that language. The uvula also helps close off the palate, when we speak and swallow. The floor of the nose is the hard and soft palate, where the back the nasal cavity opens into the rest of the throat.

When we are lying on our back, as the throat muscles relax, the base of tongue can fall back and block part of the airway. This includes the nasal passages, the soft palate in the roof of the mouth, and the tonsils. During sleep, the airways relax and narrow. This affects air pressure within the airways, which causes the tissue to vibrate. This can also happen if the airways are partially blocked, for example, during a cold, swelling in the blood vessels or inflamed tonsils at the back of the throat. This causes the tissues to vibrate at the top of the airway that strike each other, becoming snoring sound.

Chronic Snoring can cause or can be due to obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”). In sleep apnea, the tissue at the back of the throat literally prevents airflow from going down into the trachea.

Blockage in the throat can partially or completely stop air from flowing. This cycle may repeat many times during the night. Due to this, people wake up gasping or choking.

Symptoms

Some major symptoms include:

• Noise during sleep
• Restless sleep
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Sore throat
• Difficulty concentrating
• Gasping or choking at night
• Chest pain at night
• High blood pressure

Causes

• Mouth anatomy, such as narrow airway makes the air flow more forceful, thereby causing vibration to increase, resulting in louder snoring
• Nasal problems
• Alcohol consumption
• Smoking • Medication
• Sleep apnea (airway temporarily blocked during sleep)
• Obesity
• Enlarged tonsils

Proper posture, proper breathing and proper rest are key to healthy living.

Yoga therapy for snoring is all about prevention and correcting the way of breathing. Asana practice improves the efficiency of the lungs and keeps the flow of breath smooth. In particular, inverted and backward bending poses improve the function of the respiratory system. Practice of pranayama and kriyas clean respiratory track (mucociliary clearance) and improves lung capacity. Jala Neti (water cleansing) and Sutra Neti (thread cleansing) are the most efficient and simple home remedies.

Yoga therapy therefore helps the practitioners to cleanse daily disturbance and deal with any malfunctioning of the system. Inner body is achieved; the body is in perfect harmony and efficient.

Viparita Karani
(Half Shoulder Stand)

1. Sit on the edge of the Sugatha Prop and hold onto either the side handles or the outer edge of the prop.
2. Lie on the back and raise the legs up straight. Another option is to sit near the slanting edge of the prop and roll over the side to straighten the legs upwards.
3. Once the leg are straight, hold onto the bottom edge handles. Move the back closer to the slanting side. Rest the shoulders and head on the square cushion of the prop.
4. The shoulders and the body trunk are well supported with the body weight resting on the prop. The legs are relaxed. The pose becomes lighter.
5. Stay for about 2-5 minutes with normal breathing. Slightly bend the knees if necessary.

Benefits: This calms the mind and improves proper circulation of the prana in the entire body and regulates the secretion of the thyroid hormones. It prevents tonsillitis and removes blockage in the nostrils.

Bhujangasana
(Cobra Pose)

1. Lie facing down with the feet together and the toes pointing back.
2. Bend the elbows and place the palms on the side of the lower chest.
3. Keep the legs straight pointing backwards. Inhale, press the palms and lift the head and raise the chest up.
4. Take the head further back and look back without constricting the neck.
5. Stay for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing evenly.
6.Exhale, come down.

Benefit: It massages and expands of the lungs and stimulates the abdominal organs. It strengthens the throat and base of the tongue.

Ustrasana
(Camel Pose)

1. Kneel on the mat with knees slightly apart and toes pointed back.
2. Rest the palms on the hips and lift up the chest.
3. Exhale, place the right palm on the right heel; and the left palm on the left heel.
4. With palms pressing onto the feet, push the hips forward and arch backwards.
5. Contract the buttocks and stretch the neck backwards.
6. Stay in the pose for 5 normal breaths.

Benefits: This pose stimulates the kidneys, pancreas and thyroids. It clears the breathing passage and the upper airway path.

Bhamari Pranayama
(Humming Bee Breathing)

1. Sit in a comfortable asana like Padmasana (lotus pose) or Sukhasana (easy cross legged pose).
2. Keep the back erect and the shoulders relaxed.
3. Close the ears with the palms, thumbs facing down towards the shoulders.
4. Press the palms close the ears completely.
5. Inhale deeply; exhale softly with humming sound like the murmuring of a bee.
6. Repeat this for about 5 minutes.

Benefits: It strengthens the uvula, regulates the air pressure within the airways, which causes the tissue to vibrate.

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama
(Alternative Nostril Cleansing Breathing)

1. Sit in a comfortable posture like padmasana or Sukhasana.
2. Stretch the left arm forward, resting the back of the left wrist on the left knee. Let the left thumb touch the left index finger in Jnana Mudra.
3. Bend the right arm. Bend the index and the middle finger towards the palm. Bring the ring and the little finger towards the thumb.
4 Press the thumb to block right nostril completely. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril filling the chest.
5. Bend the head down and rest the chin between the collar bone on the head of the sternum.
6. Keeping the left nostril completely blocked with ring and the little finger, now open your thumb and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
7. Repeat the same by inhaling through the right nostril, closing the right and exhale completely through the left nostril.
8.This form one complete cycle, continue about 6 rounds slowly and rhythmically.

Benefits: This purifies the subtle energy channels (Nadis) of the body so the Prana (vital energy) flows more easily. It reduces blockage in nostrils and improves proper breathing.

Simha Garjanasana
(Roaring Lion Pose)

1. Sit in Vajrasana with knees apart.
2. Place the palms in the space between the knees with fingers pointing backwards.
3. Sitting in this position, lean forward and gently tilt the head back.
4. Gaze at the centre of the eyebrow and inhale through the nostrils. Exhale, open the mouth and extend the tongue out as far as possible.
5.On exhalation, produce a roaring sound of a lion, louder with the mouth wide and the tongue longer. The sound is from the throat. Observe the stomach goes in on exhalation.
5. Upon inhalation, beware of the pressure of the tongue on the palate and the breathing.
7. Every exhalation is a powerful, feel the effect on the facial muscles, throat and the abdomen.
8. Close the mouth. Repeat it about 3-5 times and relax to continue the next round.

Benefits: This is good pose of speech stammers. It relives any block in the upper airway. It massages the throat region and awakens any stagnated or dull muscles. It improves the functioning of the tonsils.

Simhasana
(Lion Breathing Pose)

1. Sit in either Vajrasana or Sukhasana.
2. Place both palms on the knees. Lift the chest up, with the back erect.
3. Stretch the arms straight, keeping them stiff and spread the fingers, pressing the palms against the knees.
4. Gaze at the centre of the eyebrow and inhale through the nostrils.
5. Exhale, open the mouth and extend the tongue out as far as you can. Exhale forcefully like coughing, with “haa” sound, stretching the whole body.
6. Relax and close your mouth. Inhale again through the nostrils and exhale through the mouth.
7. Repeat it about 3-5 times and increase gradually.

Benefits: It keeps the muscle of the face relaxed, stimulates the nerves and detoxifies the body.

Sutra Neti kriya
(Nasal Cleansing with Thread)

“Sutra” means “thread”. Traditionally, a special thread made of cotton was used, instead of synthetic fibre. Nowadays, it is more convenient to use a thin rubber catheter lubricated with either ghee or coconut oil, so that it slides easily through the nasal passage.

One can try this after mastering Jala Neti first to make sure the nostrils are clear.

1. Take the lubricated catheter (sutra). Raise the head up slightly and gently push the narrow end of the catheter into the left nostril using both hands.
2. Open the mouth and breathe very gently and evenly through the mouth while inserting the catheter in the nostril.
3. Push the sutra slowly pushed into the nostril by twisting and rotating it.
4. When the end of the sutra enters the back of the throat, cough the breath so the sutra comes to the mouth.
5. Use the index and middle fingers to reach the throat to pull the end of the sutra out of the mouth.
6.Pull the sutra back and forth 5-10 times, as long as it is comfortable and invigorating. If there is any pain or discomfort, stop immediately. 7.Learn the process with the guidance from the teacher.
Continue the process with the right nostril.

Benefits: Sutra neti is an excellent method of preventing either a cold or other inflammations of the nose. It promotes circular breathing, breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth. This keeps the breathing passage clear and open. It prevents nose blockage, makes the body and the breathing feel lighter.

Conclusion

There are many bizarre anti-snoring devices available on the market today, with more being added all the time. However, not all devises are proven to work. Not every remedy suits everyone though.

Lifestyle change can help resolve the problem. Losing weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat. It could decrease or even stop snoring. Exercise helps snoring, as it could lead to toning the muscles in the throat, leading to less snoring. Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Further, smoking causes airways to be blocked; hence quit smoking if this is your habit.

A surer way to reduce snoring is yoga therapy. Practise asana, pranayama and kriya and complement it with a healthy and balanced diet. Quantity and quality of sleep would improve; so is your relationship.

 

 

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