Sinusitis: How Yoga can help you finally break up with it this time
Sinusitis for me had been nothing short of my facial nerves thumping to the loudest & scariest drumbeats of my nose. Almost every morning I had it greeting me right in bed, in the garden & any random place around the clock.
As a kid, I never had any encounters until I graduated high school. I remember how hell literally broke loose whenever I forgot to go out without a hanky! So whether it was college, wedding or a party, I always carried this cache which had all of these – Brufen, Sinarest & Actifed. Not to forget my Vicks inhaler tied to my bag with a key chain (as if sinusitis symptoms were a badge of honor I wished to flaunt that way)! The most embarrassing strings of my sneezes caused my buddies to smile at me amusingly, yet sympathetically. Friends fond of immersing themselves in perfumes & deodorants hesitated to make appearances around me.
And then, I thought I could never win over sinusitis as it ran in my family, well, kind of.
On one of those days when I sulked to myself about this ‘hereditary’ bugging, my doctor cousin enlightened me by telling that sinusitis was more to do with one’s immunity although heredity was one way of making it passively likely to occur. And it was him who first suggested breathing exercises to me to ease the trouble.
Apprehensive that I was, his words initially came to me as a paradox. “How could I do breathing exercises when sinusitis had made even sniffing anything fearlessly seem like an effort to me?”
However, all my years of faith in a loving brother who never refrained from endorsing & believing in Yoga despite being a doctor just cajoled me in with something like my last hope. So, there I began with Pranayama, as my cousin opined that Pranayama could greatly increase the lung capacity by remarkably clearing blockages in the sinus cavities.
And ta-dah! Today I’m just more than glad to share these fantastic Yoga techniques that worked marvels for me!
Going by the semantics of the name Kapalbhati, this form of Pranayama spotlights the frontal part of the head (‘kapal‘), but targets every vital organ of the body. Usually, the face is where the major sinus cavities swarm over. Therefore, Kapalbhati Pranayama effectively smoothens these clogged areas as you begin to practise it every day. It drastically improves the way you breathe over time.
How you do it:
- Sit calmly in Padmasana (the Lotus posture) in a super-comfortable ambience, like the above image shows.
- Inhale normally & exhale forcefully enough to feel your diaphragm move to that one round of breathe-in-breathe-out. Try to inhale & exhale in 1 second each as a beginner. With days, you would be able to take lesser time to do that.
- Repeat the above step for as many breaths possible without getting hyperventilated. Try to continue this for at least 3-4 minutes to begin with.
- Keep a hanky handy as you may need it initially to help you with the nasal fluid that may gush out in bursts while doing the exercise (Don’t worry; it may first seem perturbing to you, but that’s how it worked for me very soon!)
- With time, you would keep getting better & fitter to go on for more than 10 minutes. And these sinus attacks will just seem to evade you soon.
It’s one of the most finest & calming exercises of Pranayama, which not only eases nasal congestion, but also is a great stress-busting technique of Yoga.
How you do it:
- Sit with your spine erect & close your eyes.
- Close the right nostril with your thumb and breathe in deeply from the left nostril.
- Release the thumb & now close the left nostril with the ring finger. Breathe out slowly through the right nostril.
- Next, breathe in air from the right nostril & release it through the left nostril (after closing the right nostril with the thumb).
- That completes 1 round of Anulom Vilom.
- Repeat this for at least 8-10 rounds in the beginning. And you may increase the duration after becoming a regular.
Suryanamaskar, or Sun salutation may be regarded as the keystone of Yoga practices. It fuels the entire body with positivity, rejuvenation & perfect activation of the vital organs. The maneuvering of breathing with the postures like the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) & Hastapadasana greatly help ease sinus irritation by striking the right balance with gravity there. You respire focusing more on your postures without being ruffled by the headache, your puffed nose or irritated eyes.
You could ideally warm up with Suryanamaskara before heading on to Anulom Vilom & Kapalbhati Pranayama, as this provides the ultimate kick-start to your body; just like I did (& well, am still doing)!
In fact, for me Suryanamaskara is that one thing that changed my life forever. I mean, seriously!
Well, who really feels flattered to hold a docket of those medicines from the physician & then smack it on the pharmacist’s counter every time?
I guess, none.
So, the next time you feel sinusitis pummeling you, remember, Yoga can fix things like no other drug can (sans any adverse effects).