I’ve always been suseptible to allergic sinus symptoms during the autumn change of seasons. I’ve always been helped by chiropractic adjustments and cranial manipulation, both of which allow drainage of mucous from the head through the neck. But this past fall and winter, my upper respiratory system went bonkers and really became a big problem for me. Once I discovered that the primary source of my allergic reaction was that darn pet rabbit that we had staying in our house rent-free, I erected a three room bi-level vacation condo for Jordy the Rabbit in our back yard!
But I still wasn’t right. My sinuses continued to be clogged and my eyes continued to tear. I had to sleep with my mouth open because of the congestion, and my throat was dry and scratchy every morning. My next step was to eliminate wheat and dairy from my diet, as both cause mucous formation and inflammation, especially the genetically modified stuff they now pass off as food. I gained some more relief of my symptoms, but I wasn’t there yet.
About eight weeks ago, I started a new training cycle at The Gym in Englewood, which just happens to be equipped with an excellent steamroom. Everyday I hit the steam for a 5-10 minute session and performed some basic breathing exercises while in there, and the results have been astounding! Let me tell you how I did it.
First off, I like to stand while in the steamroom as the air is hotter up there and I don’t trust the coodies that can collect on steamroom seats! I spray a little eukalyptus/menthol spray into the air to give me that nice Vick’s VapoRub smell and sensation. While standing I perform light circular movements of my arms to stretch my chest open and pull my shoulder blades backwards. Next I perform 5-10 full focused centered breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth while expanding my ribcage and abdomen. I start gently and gradually use more force with successive breaths.
I then close off my right nostril with a finger and breath in and out with the left nostril for 5-10 breaths, again starting gently with successive force. I imagine the upper respiratory tract as a vacuum hose and I try to clear the mucous out of that hose through strong suction, either swallowing the mucous (not so gross) or blowing it out of my nose (use a towel for hygiene’s sake!) I repeat the process with the left nostril closed, breathing 5-10 with the right nostril creating that in and out vacuum cleanup.
Finally, I perform an ancient breathing exercise called nadi shodhan pranayama or alternate nostril breathing. Here’s an infographic of how it is performed. I’ll do 5-10 of these to complete my session. If you want to delve more deeply into this breathing exercise, here’s a link to a great article and video on how to do it. By the way, the alternate nostril breathing exercise can be done anywhere and at any time. It stimulates energy flow and balances your system.
And now my sinuses are clear most of the time! If I can’t make it to The Gym, I blast the hot water and steam up the bathroom at home and perform the exercises before showering. I actually sleep now while breathing through my nose, and my wife says I am snoring much less! The steam room isn’t for everybody, but if you’re suffering from chronic sinus congestion, please give this a try. I’m here to help you if you need more guidance or have questions.
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