A Simple Breathing Exercise To Manage Stress and Sinus

Published: January 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

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If you click on “images” after searching for “medicine side effects”, you will notice a t-shirt with a message that goes, “I take medication for diabetes which is a side-effect from my high BP which I got from taking sleeping tablets due to insomnia caused by anxiety which I got from a tablet given for chronic fatigue ….”.

I am one of those guys. I was given steroids and azathioprine for Myasthenia Gravis (auto-immune deficiency). The steroids increased my HBA1C (a measure of average blood sugar) levels, increased my anxiety levels, among other things*. The azathioprine affected the shape of my RBCs, reducing my haemoglobin content. This has been my life since Sep. 2012 (freefincal was started four months before).

* My hair grew fast! So not all bad 🙂

Source: http://chirocentre.co.uk/chiropractic-t-shirt-medication-side-effect/

To get my life back in order,  I stopped all forms of sugar, reduced carbs and dropped my weight: How I lost weight, gained it all back and lost it again!.

Although my steroid intake is now comfortably low, anxiety issues were troubling. Anxiety is when stress dissipates slowly. If you worry that the stress is not going away, it will worsen the symptoms.

Before I realised that this was anxiety, I used to think I had breathing difficulties. If I saw someone breathing fast or diving underwater in a movie, it would make be anxious!

I used to take a drug for this, but when the doctor asked me to stop it, I would feel sleepy the entire day. So I wanted a way to reduce stress and anxiety quickly without drugs. Distraction, in particular, Robin Williams on Youtube made a huge difference, but often I was too stressed to remember to get distracted.

A couple of months ago, on the flight home after the Mumbai Investor meet, the in-flight Indigo magazine introduced me to a simple Yoga breathing exercise that has made a huge difference to my life.

I do not remember the name of exercise (Anshuman Chakrapani, some help please).

Update: Anshuman’s expert comments:

This is the preparatory stage of classical Nadi Shodhan Pranayama…

It is also called psychic network purification technique. There is altogether 5 technique or stages in Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. This is beginners stage.

Nadi Shodhana pranayama has countless benefits it’s ensures that the whole body is nourish-efficiently expelled and the blood is purified of toxins. The brain centres are stimulated to work nearer to their optimum capacity. It also induces tranquillity, clarity of thought and concentration, and is recommend for those engaged in mental work. It increases vitality and lowers levels of stress and anxiety.

Same Nostril Breathing

1: Close your left nostril with a finger (the magazine said ring finger, but I don’t think it makes a difference). Breath in with open (right) nostril, and breathe out normally with the same right nostril. Repeat 3-5 times. Do not breath through the mouth.

2: Repeat with other the nostril.

That is it! When I googled, I could find not the find the exact technique. There is a lot of material on alternative nostril breathing. This is same nostril breathing and is a lot easier.

It has had a huge impact in reducing my anxiety levels.  I can do this just about anywhere without attracting attention. After doing this, if I can distract myself with some pleasant activity, the anxiety comes down even faster.

Anxiety need not always result in a full blown panic attack. Sometimes as the body relaxes back, there can be some chest pain (scary!) and even hand tremors. This breathing exercise has helped me manage this well.

I also have a sinus issue and as I write have a severe nasal block due to cold. Sometimes both my nostrils get blocked and I get anxious because of this! Working a single nostril has helped me clear the block from it.

I was told to get a sinus surgery done. Thanks to this exercise, I have been able to manage without, so far.  I am also not under medication for anxiety now.

Although I share this in the hope that it may be useful, please keep in mind that not everyone can handle a breathing exercise. Those with high BP and/or heart or chest condition (among others) should avoid this. So please consult a doctor if you wish to practice this or any other breathing technique. 

Also remember that benefits will vary from person to person.

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  1. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

    I am practicing Common and 3/4 basic pranayam.

    Following are few and very very common techniques and those to be done under guidance otherwise there could be damging effect. Very important is that everyone need to do with his own capacity after learning it. Repeatation,time, cycle and speed etc is very important in real practice and are very depend upon the Individual health situation.

    Taking your attention to the breath can help free the mind of the unnecessary clutter of thoughts that breed anxiety. Try the following breathing practices:

    •Kapal Bhati Pranayama (Skull-Shining Breathing Technique)

    •Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellow breathing)

    •Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) – effective in releasing stress from the system (where the exhalation is longer than the inhalation)

    •Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)

    With Regards,

  2. there are many breathing exercises in Yoga, but majorly spoken, discussed and practiced are Anulom-Vilom (breathe in-breathe out) and Naadi-Shodhan (breathe in-hold-breathe out) pranaayams, and true, these definitely are helpful for the symptoms of stress, anxiety and sinus. (based on my experience with Yoga since last 20 yrs).

  3. Sir, amitabh also has myasthenia, so you can also lead the life as big as him, and I should say , I have heard you twice, you are on the path to emulate him
    Few medical matters sir,, myasthenia is a state of autoimmune excess, azathioprine affects the wbc, keep a tab on it.
    Sorry for the free advice, could not stop myself.

  4. I have been suffering from sinus like symptoms for as far as I can remember (may be 15 years now). There is nothing I have not tried. allopathic, Ayurveda, homeo. Have been treated in India and abroad. My mornings have been miserable beyond explanation. It was so embarrassing even to show up at work with sneezing, running nose every day.

    These breathing techniques are followed in Art of Living happiness course. It should be beneficial

    But for past 4-5 months something happened that life is so much better. I can’t pin point what has hit me. Following are my observation of change in life style

    1) Consume a spoon of Raw garlic soaked in Honey on empty stomach (In a glass jar chop garlic and pour good quality honey and leave aside for few days and start consuming)

    2) I started using castor oil in my regular hair oil and apply on head before bath.

    Again, can be sure which magic did the trick.

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