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Yoga for Sleep Apnea (Breathing Exercises & More)

Yoga for Sleep Apnea (Breathing Exercises & More)

Some yoga poses to help open up the airways and ease those who have sleep apnea.

In this post, we talk about how yoga can help to ease those who suffer from sleep apnea. We provide three different poses to practice, along with some videos on how to perform them correctly.

Sleep apnea is essentially an advanced form of snoring. Although snoring can be bothersome, sleep apnea can possibly endanger someone’s life. It’s estimated that those who suffer from sleep apnea lose about a third of sleep every night, and their tossing and turning, loud snoring, and even choking can affect their partner’s night of sleep, as well.

As we know, losing sleep can lead to a plethora of other problems including headaches, high blood pressure, weight gain, and even heart disease.

More About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a result of blocked nasal and throat airways and can happen a couple of times a night to hundreds of times a night. In general, exercise is known to help improve sleep apnea. More specifically, yoga can help to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea because yoga breathing exercises help to strengthen, tone, and open the upper airway muscles, and can significantly reduce stress and calm the mind, which can lead to better overall life quality.

To be clear, yoga itself cannot cure sleep disorders, but it can definitely help. This post does not serve as medical advice, we trying to provide you the tools to sleep better at night.

Yoga Poses for Sleep Apnea

If you are unable to attend an actual yoga class in a yoga studio every evening, here are some classical and simple poses that you can practice at home. They will help to lengthen you out, stretch your spine, and expand your lungs and airways. Make them a part of your bedtime routine to be consistent. If you practice all three moves correctly for a couple of weeks, you should start to see and feel the results. So put on your pajamas, grab your yoga mat, and let’s get started.

Creating a Space for your Yoga Practice
Before you dive in, we recommend creating a space in your home that will help you mentally tune in to your yoga practice.

  • Find a flat surface. These beginner poses are okay to do with a yoga mat on top of carpeting but note that if you are planning a more advanced practice, particularly one that uses balances, putting your mat on top of hard floor is more stable and safe.
  • Practice where you feel comfortable. If you are someone who is new to yoga, these poses can feel foreign to the body. To get the most out of your time, do them in a space where you feel comfortable and focused. For example, doing yoga on the front lawn may make your practice highly visible and prevent you from focusing on yourself.
  • Don’t forget a relaxing atmosphere. Nighttime yoga can do wonders to help you de-stress before bed. Practicing with the lights dimmed can help your brain wind down for the night. You can also try lighting some aromatherapy candles in scents like lavender to relax, just be sure to blow them out before you go to sleep.

Cat Cow Pose
First up is cat cow. Begin posed on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be directly above your hands and your hips should be directly over your knees. Make sure you start with a flat back. As you slowly and deeply inhale, arch your spine down to the floor and look up to where the wall meets the ceiling, which will keep your neck in line with your spine.

Let your belly/stomach relax and hang down to the floor. Imagine there is fishing wire tied to the crown of your head and to your tailbone, pulling upward. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and down. You are in cow position.

Now, as you deeply exhale, pull your belly button to your spine as you curve your spine up and drop your head and your tailbone down. Look in between your legs and pull in your ribs. This is your cat position.

As you inhale again, slowly return to cow position. Moving through both cat and cow is one rep. Repeat five to 10 reps.

Locust Pose
Next yoga position is locust. To begin this pose, lie belly down on the floor, arms long along your sides, and palms on the floor. Legs should be long and pointed at the toe. As you inhale deeply, raise your chest and legs up off the floor as much as you can, while keeping your shoulders back and opening your chest. Try to lengthen your spine and keep your neck aligned by imagining watching a marble rolling up and down the floor.

Squeeze your glutes and your legs together. Hold this position for a count of three, then relax. Repeat this move for eight to 10 reps.

Seated Twist
The final move is seated twist. To start, sit in a criss-cross-applesauce position on the floor. Make sure you are comfortable. As you inhale and fill your chest with your breath, straighten out your spine to sit tall, and roll your shoulders back and down.

As you slowly exhale, twist to the right, placing your right hand on the floor behind your hip. Put your left hand on your right thigh to pull you further into your twist. Hold for three seconds.

Inhale as your return back to the center and then repeat to the left side.

Next Steps

If you’ve successfully used these poses and are hungry for more, no need to worry! We highly recommend you go to your local yoga studio for classes to enrich your practice. Alternatively, you can access lots of free or cheap exercise videos to dive deeper into yoga: Amazon Prime Video subscribers have lots of yoga lessons at their fingertips, and others can be found on YouTube or through your local library.