It was outlined in earlier blog entry how a reduction  in  carbon  dioxide levels causes an increase in mucus secretion and constriction of the airways. The nose forms part of the air system and is usually the first part to become constricted. The following is a simple exercise which will unblock the nose in as little as five minutes.  It is based  on  temporarily  increasing  carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which will in turn open the nasal passages. This  exercise is the  same  for both  children  and adults. At this point it is worth practicing the exercise before you read further.

✦   Sit upright on a straight-backed  chair.

✦   Normalise  and calm your breathing.  Take a small breath (two seconds)  in  through  your  nose,  if possible,  and  a small breath out (three seconds). If you are unable to take a  breath  in  through   your  nose,  take  a  tiny  breath  in through the corner of your mouth.

✦   Pinch your nose and hold your breath. Keep your mouth closed.

✦   Gently nod  your head  or sway your body until  you feel that you cannot hold your breath any longer. (Hold your nose until you feel a relatively strong need for air.)

✦   When  you need  to breathe  in, let go of your nose  and breathe  gently through  it, in and  out, with your mouth closed. Avoid taking a deep breath  when you breathe  in, and calm your breathing  as soon as possible by focusing on relaxation. Repeat to yourself ‘relax and breathe less’.

✦   Continue   to  do  this   exercise  until   you  can  breathe through  your nose  fully. If your nose  does not  become totally unblocked,  wait about  one  minute  and  perform this  exercise again.  Initially you may need  to do this  a number    of   times   before   your   nose   is  completely unblocked.



After doing  this  exercise  a  few  times  your  nose  will be unblocked.  If you continue  to overbreathe,  or take a deep breath, you will lose the additional  carbon dioxide and your nose will become blocked again. Perform this exercise each time  that  your nose  becomes  blocked. Even if you have a cold, make sure to breathe through your nose. You may think you can’t clear your nose  when  you have a heavy cold, but you can.

Holding   the  breath   traps  additional   carbon   dioxide which has been produced from the physical activity involved in moving the muscles. It is quite common  for the nose to become blocked again shortly after doing this exercise. This is because  the underlying  breathing  has not been  changed and the body has not become  accustomed  to the increased carbon  dioxide  level. However,  after  some  time,  and with regular practice of breathing  exercises, the body will adapt to a higher  level of carbon  dioxide and  the  nose  will remain unblocked.


Warning call

Your nose is your first warning call – it is the first part of the airways to constrict if you are beginning  to hyperventilate. For example, much  of my work involves presentations to groups  of people: this can involve talking for up to four hours at a time. Frequently it happens that, towards the end of the four hours, I feel my nose becoming  a little blocked. This  is a direct  result  of the  loss of carbon  dioxide  from excessive talking. My blocked nose is my indicator that I am breathing  more than I should, so I take a break from talking and normalise my breathing. Talking involves continuous  air exhalation  through  the open mouth and the continuous loss of carbon dioxide. With a short period of reduced talking, or not talking, breathing  will begin to normalise and the nose will unblock automatically.

Breathing  too deeply through  the nose will result in it becoming partially blocked. However it will not become fully blocked unless the switch is made to mouth  breathing.  This is because  of the  body’s breathing  defence  mechanism.  As soon as the nose  becomes  partially blocked, the volume of air is decreased;  this  causes the  level of carbon  dioxide to increase and in turn to dilate the nasal passages. Continuous overbreathing means the nose will become partially blocked once more which will again increase carbon dioxide. In turn, this will open the nasal passages and so on. It can feel a little uncomfortable   trying  to  continue   breathing   through   the nose as it starts to block. The best action to take therefore  is to do the nose unblocking exercise or walk a number  of steps holding your breath. This will quickly unblock the nose and make it feel comfortable again.

If you can hear yourself breathe through your nose (whistling) this is a warning that you are breathing too much. Breathing through the nose should be a silent activity.

When  the  switch  is first  made  from  mouth  to  nasal breathing,  the volume of air being inhaled  will reduce. The body may begin  to play tricks and  convince  individuals  to breathe more by inducing yawning, sighing, regular sniffing or the  odd  mouth  breath.  Try not  to increase  breathing  at this point. When the need to deep breathe arises, for example during a sigh, swallow immediately. If the need to yawn also occurs,  avoid  taking  the  deep  breath  that  accompanies  a yawn. Instead  stifle the yawn by keeping the mouth  closed, or swallow.


It takes just a few days for a habitual mouth  breather  to change  breathing  to permanent nose  breathing.  Increasing observation of breathing,  reducing volume of breathing  and practising nose unblocking exercises are important elements in trying to make this change.


After the  change  to nasal breathing  has been  made,  it will become  uncomfortable  to mouth  breathe  because  the effects of cold dry air entering  through  the  mouth  will be felt.  Often  people  begin  to  wonder   how  on  earth   they managed  to  go  through  life with  a  permanent, and  very uncomfortable, blocked nose – a condition which is frequently, and usually unsuccessfully, addressed  by the use of nasal sprays, decongestants or even an operation.


Nasal Remedy

Those suffering constant nasal congestion and inflammation should practise nose unblocking exercises but also wash out the nose daily with the following remedy – especially those who have become dependent on nasal sprays:

Dissolve half a teaspoon  of sea salt and half a teaspoon of bread soda (bicarbonate) in one pint of boiled water and let  it  cool.  A  plastic syringe  with  a  rubber  bulb  can  be purchased  from a pharmacy. Fill this syringe with the solution  and squeeze  into  one nostril  while blocking the other  nostril  with a finger.  Sniff the water in until  it reaches  the back of the throat. Spit it out and then repeat with the other nostril.

Another option  is to cup the  warm salt water into  the hand  and sniff the  water up into  the  nose  one nostril  at a time (again with the other nostril blocked). People who live near the sea find that sniffing up clean sea water is also effective. This is a traditional  remedy which also works well for sinus problems. Yogi have, for thousands  of years, realised the benefits of nasal cleansing and use a special vessel called a neti pot to pour the solution into each nostril.


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