Yoga & sinuses

Suffering from sinus headaches, runny nose, or congestion?

This time of year can be particularly bad for some people. Yoga can help!!

Yoga restores the balance in your body and provides relief from migraine attacks and allergic nasal conditions. Sinus congestion, also known as rhinitis, can be caused for many reasons, viral infections, allergies, tooth infections, nasal polyps, sensitivity to dry, cold or damp air and many other triggers. For some people it’s chronic and for others it’s occasional, but for everyone it’s universally unpleasant, leading to headaches, lost sleep, exhaustion and poor concentration. Hot yoga is better avoided when the sinuses are congested because heat will just irritate the tissue

What can you do to help?

Pranayama or Yoga Breathing

There are many forms of pranayama practices but one that is clinically proven to relieve sinusitis is alternate nostril breathing.

In 2013 a study published in 40 people who practised it for 40 days reported that symptoms of nasal drip, headache, itchy nostrils, sinus pressure and other symptoms improved by an average of 50 to 70 per cent. The researchers attribute the improvement to increased oxygenation of the nasal tissue.

Technique – Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Sitting comfortably with a straight back. Place your thumb your right nostril and close it, now inhale through the left nostril to a count of four.
  • Hold to a count of sixteen, then release the right nostril while blocking the left with the middle finger.
  • Exhale through the right nostril to a count of four.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • You can adapt the timing and duration to your own capacity, most importantly listen to your body.

Postures or Asanas in Sanskrit to help.

Postures called Inversions, such as the downward facing dog, Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Halasana (plough pose) help move the build up out the sinuses and upper respiratory tract, and to the oral cavity by stimulating circulation.

Standing poses such as twists and forward and backwards bends stimulate points along the spine, the thoracic area and energize the lung meridians which help clear the sinuses.

Neti Pot

A neti pot is used to flush the sinuses with salt water.

Neti pots are available in most pharmacies and health food stores with pre-measured saline packets. They’ve been proven highly effective in preventing infection, soothing sinuses and preventing colds and infections. Whether you use a neti pot or a squeeze bottle, the goal is to shoot the water up into one nostril, have it circulate at the top of the nasal cavity, and run down the other nostril. Then reverse. It feels a little weird at first but keep at it and you’ll soon feel the benefits!