“If I hadn’t started yoga classes, I’m convinced that my condition would have deteriorated and I would have been on a sleep machine within the next 12 months“—- says one of my students who had sleep apnea.
I commenced his classes mainly with kriyas, tongue exercises and breathing manipulations in different combinations and gradually graduated him to advanced practices. The kriyas, tongue exercises & breathing techniques mentioned below tremendously helped improve his condition. The student not only did not have to use the sleep machine, which was, otherwise, recommended but also managed to get off his medications as he progressed with these practices.
(i) Vyut Krama
Vyut Krama is one of the forms of Kapalbhati in which you clean the nasal passage with lukewarm salted water. In this process, you use a full cup water to suck it in through a nostril with inhalation, collect it in your mouth & then spit it out. Check the details in this video:
Jalneti is very much like Vyut Krama. The main difference between the two is: the Vyut Krama cleanses the nasal to mouth passage whereas Jalneti cleanses a nostril to the other nostril passage. One, however, requires a special device for Jalneti which is usually available in any of the yoga institutes. Check the details in this video.
(iii) Sutra Neti
This is another nasal cleansing process, which cleanses the nasal passage with the help of a rubber catheter. Mucus and dirt is removed by friction and massage due to the rubber catheter.
All the above mentioned cleansing kriyas show miraculous results when it comes to most of the problems connected with respiratory system, nasal passage, throat region. It is equally effective in cases of sleep apnea. In fact, when the problem is at its peak, performing Jalneti, twice a day, yields great results. Please make sure to follow the post rituals after performing these kriyas.
One can start with Vyut Krama and then move to Jalneti. Sutra Neti seems to be a big challenge to many but, trust me; it can be easily performed without any discomfort. One just needs to keep an open mind to perform it.
Breathing & Mudras
In Ujjayi, you slightly constrict the air passage at the back of the throat while inhaling and exhaling. It may be difficult for some to figure out the exact muscles used in Ujjayi. The best way to learn this is to bend your chin slightly downwards. This will automatically target that area. Another way to engage the back of the throat is to start with a slight snoring sound which of course, needs to be smoothened (the sound) over a period of time. Basically, in Ujjayi, you are partially closing the glottis and engaging the partially open glottis during respiration. In short, the breathing is happening through the nostrils but by engaging the throat muscles. Apart from many other benefits (very energizing & one of the most recommended practices for High BP), it helps strengthen the air passage.
(ii) Bhramari Rechak
This technique involves making a humming sound during exhalation while keeping the ears blocked. Simply cup your eyes with four fingers (cupping has to be soft), inhale and just before exhaling, block your ears with the respective thumbs and exhale from the nostrils creating a humming sound. The idea behind blocking your ears is that you can hear your own humming and calm your brain nerves. Bhramari Rechak is a powerful yogic tranquilizer and works exclusively on strengthening air passage which is required in case of sleep apnea.
(iii) Jivha – Singh Mudra
Jivha Mudra (Tongue Lock) is performed by simply placing & pushing the tongue on the upper palate with slight force. The mouth is wide open and you feel a good stretch on the upper jaw & the throat region. You can continue to breathe through your nostrils.
Singh Mudra – Sit in a comfortable position, place your palms firmly on the knees; pressing your palms on the knees, lean forward slightly. Hold this position and inhale. As you exhale, open your mouth wide; stretch your tongue out from its root as if you are trying to touch the chin with the tongue. At the time of exhalation, also stretch your fingers wide apart with your palms firmly on the knees. The stretching out of the tongue can be accompanied with a roaring sound. Hold this for 20-30 seconds while breathing normally and then release.
Jivha Mudra and Singh Mudra are to be performed alternatively at least in three sets. These can be performed anywhere anytime (empty stomach of course).
The above practices are all very good for the respiratory organs and sleep apnea. It gives relief during cold and cough, helps remove congestion, is recommended for high BP, thyroid, asthma etc.
|1||Stick your tongue straight out of your mouth, hold and bring it back in. Repeat this action several times. Each day you should work on sticking your tongue further out.|
|2||Stick your tongue out and try to touch the chin with the tip of your tongue. Move it around in all direction holding the stretch.|
|3||Hold a spoon firmly at the tip of the tongue; try to push the spoon with the tongue, hold for few seconds and release. Repeat. Make sure that the spoon remains still and firm.|
|4||Look at the ceiling, drop your lower jaw down, raise it up slowly & firmly so that the lower lip overlaps your upper lip. Repeat 10 times.|
|5||Keep your mouth closed, rotate your tongue inside clock wise & then anti clockwise. Do perform this before going to sleep. It really helps in sound sleep.|
These are highly recommended and can be practiced anytime during the day. You can do 10 to 20 rounds at one go. These movements assist in smooth passage of air flow during respiration while at the same time, strengthens the surrounding areas.
- Sleep on an empty stomach by leaving a gap of at least 2 hours between dinner and going to bed.
- Practice 10 rounds of Nadishodhan kriya before going to bed. It is very valuable in reducing the problem of excessive snoring, which is one of the major complaints in Sleep Apnea.
- Sleeping on your side is recommended.
- Bite down a pen or a pencil for ten minutes or until your jaw is sore, just before bedtime. This will strengthen your jaw muscles.
- To tighten the muscles that keep the mouth closed, you can chew gum for 10-15 minutes before bedtime.
Following the above mentioned practices alone would show great results in case of sleep apnea and snoring. So follow these instructions and lead a sleep apnea free life.
Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.