Relaxing Throat in Savasana Causes Restricted Breathing


#1

Hi everyone, this is my first post here. I was looking for some guidance after getting back into yoga. The first problem I’ve encountered is that when I lie in savasana and relax, I want to relax the muscles of my neck and throat, but the more I do, the more restricted my breathing becomes, to the point of snoring or complete closure of the airway. I’ve tried putting my head up a little on a pillow, but that makes it worse. If anything, lying on something elevated so my head drops back can help a bit (after all, that’s why you put someone’s head back in first aid if they’re unconscious - it opens up the airway), but I don’t know if this is advisable. I’m hardly able to gain any of the benefits of deeper relaxation because I become aware of having to maintain a certain level of muscular tension in my throat. Maybe I should just maintain that, I don’t know. Any thoughts?


#2

Hello PeeJay,

Ahhhh finally another avatar out from behind the anonymity of the Internet. Thank you!

When propping the skull in Savasana it is important to use something firm like a foam pad. Such propping should only support the head from the occiput back. In other words the neck itself should not be supported. When the muscles in that area are supported the body immediately perceives it as a sleep indicator.

Often the snoring you mention brings up two things. The first is sleep apnea (and you’ve not provided enough of a health intake to go deeper here) and that which comes from it, a lack of rest.

There are several things to try and I’ll emphasize “try” as this can very much be trial and error. I have not found any one thing to work for a significant number of people. First, add the jaw series to your daily practice. This will free up the TMJ and free the airway. Have your teacher show this to you and if she/he is not aware of it then I’d suggest finding a certified Purna Yoga teacher in your locale. Said teacher can also show you the beginners version of Khechari; the mudra where the tongue rolls back along the upper pallet and contacts the soft pallet to open up and stretch the frenulum.

There are other practices targeting this however they are so subtle that conveyance over the Internet would be very difficult.

Finally, remember that while the desired result or practice of Savasana is not at all sleep, be gentle with yourself regarding your experience knowing that if you were already capable you wouldn’t need Yoga at all. :slight_smile:


#3

Peejay,

Yes, as IA has stated correctly, the kechari mudra will help you with this, but follow it up with jaladahara banha: that is, use the muscles in your throat to gently pull the adam’s apple back and up behind the tongue, WITHOUT changing alignment of the head. You will find that locks the whole thing in place with very little effort, as “bandha” would suggest. (Important to note here, this is not full jaladhara bandha, which involves drawing and holding the chin into the clavicle, but only a more subtle and isolated contraction in the throat.) You will be able to relax your neck and your head/neck will find a very comfortable alignment. Try it first without any kind of propping. This is a very simple and safe, gentle, contraction you can practice any time during the day, all day long if you like. Awesome benefit.

peace,
siva


#4

Thank you InnerAthlete and siva, you have both given me a lot to think about and try. I’m somewhere between beginner and moderately experienced, having dabbled over 35 years, mostly in Hatha Yoga, but never stuck at regular practice for very long. I know that sleep isn’t the goal, but I thought that deep relaxation was, so I’m surprised by your advice, siva, of practising a bandha, however subtle, but I’ll give it a try. I’m going on memory a lot as to how to practise it, so I’ll read some more too. I’m familiar with the way a problem in one area can be due to something elsewhere, so I’ll work on loosening up the jaw.

I’m a few weeks back into yoga after a long time off it. I think I may have mild sleep apnea and I might be lacking rest - I have a habit of staying up too late - it’a after 1 am now! I don’t have a teacher at the moment. I’m working out my (new) approach to yoga, after some changes in my life - another thread probably. :slight_smile: Many thanks.


#5

[QUOTE=PeeJay;79513]I know that sleep isn’t the goal, but I thought that deep relaxation was, so I’m surprised by your advice, siva, of practising a bandha, however subtle, but I’ll give it a try.[/QUOTE]

Peejay,

A bandha is a “lock” or “catch,” which eventually is sustained with very little effort, ultimately even when it’s completely relaxed. Something to explore if only to become more aware of where a larger issue may lie. Practice it at other times during the day, and with other asanas. Perhaps during sarvasana, you may find you need only bring your awareness to it without actually doing it, but it needs exercise somewhere along the line. It’s safe and easy.

peace,
siva


#6

Thanks siva, that’s an interesting thought, that the bandha might establish an easy habit with practice. Certainly all sorts of changes could occur in my throat from doing it - or other practices. It reminds me of a similar experience I had with a Buddhist meditation practice: instead of relaxing all the muscles not required to sit up, the instructions were to tense certain muscles around the ‘tanden’ (which I think must be Japanese = the Chinese ‘Xia Dantian’ and wikipedia says this corresponds to the yoga Swadhisthana, but I’m not sure if it’s that or Manipura). Anyway, this felt weird and uncomfortable at first, but after a while meditation didn’t seem the same without it, although it was very subtle by then, rather as you describe the jaladahara. I haven’t had much time to practise any of these lately.


#7

[QUOTE=siva;79570]Peejay,

A bandha is a “lock” or “catch,” which eventually is sustained with very little effort, ultimately even when it’s completely relaxed. Something to explore if only to become more aware of where a larger issue may lie. Practice it at other times during the day, and with other asanas. Perhaps during sarvasana, you may find you need only bring your awareness to it without actually doing it, but it needs exercise somewhere along the line. It’s safe and easy.

peace,
siva[/QUOTE]

nice one Peejay, I think this is very important to keep practising this, with time it will come.


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#8

Or you could just not lie in Savasana…it’s not the only pose suitable for relaxation.

Try lying on your front in Jyestikasana or Advasana…or even on your side in Matsya Kridasana.


#9

Please get a check-up from the doctor and tell him about this- if you have no problems lying on your back and sleeping - it is probably like described above by others but be on the safe side -mention this to your doctor at the first opportunity.


#10

maybe in The savasana The vishudhi was working out with the making a hollow channel by activating the glands and so many unknown things that I know with no bandhas in shava & in the particular question I experienced the same you believe, huh ?


#11

do you have any problem swallowing your food ?


#12

Savasana is like every other pose it takes practice ,
Cheers


#13

As I understand it, Savasana is not a realisation practice but, a path to sense withdrawal (taught as such at the Mumbai Yoga Institute for just on 100 years) so any self sustaining mudra or other exercise would be okay as long as you can concentrate on breathing and a spot that negates everything else around it (hope that makes sense...). When I was a kid, it took me 4 years to atain sense withdrawal and now I am having to start all over again (40 years later). Keep at it........