Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stuffy Nose? Fight it the Fun Way!

I couldn't help but wonder if it was possible to suffocate due to a severely stuffed nose.  Would the nasal passages clear on their own, due to blood flow, if for some reason my mouth was blocked?  Or would I be unable to breathe and die a very embarrassing death?

Ok, ok... that's a little overly dramatic, but you get the picture:

It was not a good morning.

We've all had a day like this in our lifetime.  This tends to happen due to allergies or a cold.  As you've probably figured out based on my cayenne pepper sore throat remedy a couple of days ago, mine was the latter.

I told you what I do to fix a sore throat, but it just occurred to me that I neglected to mention the accompanying stuffy nose, and how I relieve that.  It all comes down to yoga.

Wait!  Don't run away!!!

I promise I'm not going to tell someone that's laid low by a cold to actually do physical work.  Not only would it be crazy, but it'd be pretty cruel.  You're tired enough already.

Well, ok... I'm not being entirely truthful.  You do have to do a slight bit of work, but it's nothing beyond average.  It's probably something you want to do, anyway, because you're feeling so yucky.  Basic movement.

Get up and take a warm bath or shower!

See?  That's not so bad, right?

The reason you need to do this is that you need to moisten all that stuffy yuckiness so that you can manage to get breath through at least one nostril.  Feel free to skip this part if you can already do that.

Now comes the fun part:


Oh, but I am.  And admit it... it's fun!

Why in the world would I possibly want you to hum?  

The vibration that you feel in your nasal passages when you hum loosens the mucus that causes the stuffy nose in the first place.  From what I've discovered through my personal brand of haphazard research (see diagram photo), this humming appears to increase oxygen levels, which, naturally, leads to increased blood flow.

I know it's embarrassing to start humming in front of people - it feels like you've been put on the spot.  But you know what?  I see no reason why you can't combine your shower (or bath) and the humming.  Plenty of people sing in the shower, after all.

Even people that can't carry a tune to save their lives, like me.

Once you're finished with that bit of fun, it's time to breathe.

Alright, it's pretty obvious that you've been breathing this entire time... through your mouth, mostly, but now it's time to do some controlled breathing through those poor, miserable nostrils.

This is where the yoga comes in.

No poses.  We're just breathing.  Specifically, we're using a form of yoga breathing called Anuloma Viloma.  I originally started doing this to combat sinus headaches (it works wonders), which means I had to add a few simple movements to it, but it's easily modified to combat a particularly nasty stuffed up nose.

And it's super simple.  Score!!!

  1. Press on one nostril with your finger, to close it.  Breathe in through the other nostril for 4 seconds.
  2. Pinch your nose with 2 fingers, and hold your breath for 16 seconds.  (When you're sick, this seems to feel more like 16 minutes, so if you can't hold it for that long, it's ok.  Don't stress yourself out2.  This is supposed to be fun, remember?)  
  3. Now uncover the nostril opposite to the one you were originally breathing in through (If you started by breathing in through the right, release the left nostril, or vice versa). Breathe out for a total of 8 seconds.
  4. Breathe in again (for the original 4 seconds) through this same nostril, and repeat the entire process at least three times.  More is better, but if you're not used to it, that can be rather challenging.


Ok, in a nutshell, here's what to remember:

  •  The entire process goes through a 4 - 16 - 8 second interval pattern.  In for 4, hold for 16, then release for 8.  Repeat over and over, alternating nostrils.
  • Don't stress out over it.  Get yourself to do this at least three times.  More is better, but not at the cost of rising stress levels.  Stress, after all, only makes you feel worse.  We don't want that, darn it!  We're having fun!
Still confusing?

No problem.  Go over to the A-B-C of Yoga site, and read what they have to say about it.  And, bonus - They have pictures!!!

Who doesn't like that?!

This is not only a fun way to relieve that stuffy nose, it's also an easy way to be environmentally friendly.  

No, seriously.  

How much machinery has to be used to make this happen?  How much waste does this produce?  How many chemicals are involved?

That's right: none.  Talk about an easy way to be environmentally responsible while saving money at the same time!

Now go fight that stuffy nose the fun way, rather than the yucky-medicine-that-fixes-five-other-things-you-couldn't-care-less-about way!

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