Yoga Techniques to Unblock Your Nose

Article by Lucas Rockwood

Are you suffering from a blocked nose? Do you breathe through your mouth and maybe snore at night? If you suffer from frequent nasal congestion and you’re trying to figure out a way to unblock your nose quickly and naturally, this video is for you.

Here we’ll share three yoga techniques, which have been used successfully for thousands of years. When followed correctly they can yield quick and effective results.

A quick warning: the three techniques you’ll learn are much stronger than common at-home solutions such as nasal massage, steam, or warm washcloth remedies. These practices are safe but aggressive, so they should be used only when those traditional approaches fail.

Best Practice

We encourage you to try each of the following techniques separately at first to see how they work. Many people eventually combine two or more techniques for even better results, but start slowly, and then integrate the most effective practice into your daily routine.

If you have a sinus infection, nasal polyps, a major septum deviation, or any other major nose problem, please check with your doctor before practice. This guide is for educational purposes only.

Download PDF pose chart

Apnea Walk

This practice was popularized by Ukrainian doctor Konstantin Buteyko specifically to treat asthmatics. Whether or not you have asthma, this method can effectively open your breathing passageways.

The practice involves exhaling, holding your breath, and then walking without breathing. The mechanism of action has to do with carbon dioxide (CO2), a natural bronchodilator. Since you hold your breath for a very short period of time, your blood oxygen levels are hardly affected, but with the walking your CO2 levels spike, causing a dilation of your airways.

  • Stand up and gently inhale
  • Exhale everything out and pinch your nose closed
  • Walk around the room for 15 paces
  • Sit down, mouth closed, and breathe gently and slowly through your nose
  • Sip the air with baby breaths, avoid big deep breaths
  • Repeat the walk three times

Jala Neti

This ancient yoga kriya, or cleansing technique, was first documented in the Hathapradipika written in the 15th century by Swami Svatmarama. It’s a simple practice of flushing your sinuses with a saline solution.

You can buy inexpensive neti pots online. Ideally, choose one made of porcelain or metal, and avoid the plastic pots. Keep your pot clean and dry when not in use, and make sure to wash with hot water and soap both before and after you practice.

Jala neti can be practiced when you wake in the morning, before bed for improved nighttime respiration, and throughout the day to clear your sinuses for breathing or meditation practices. If your nose is blocked, or depending on your sinuses, the water might not flow freely or it might flow and then stop—this is ok, it’s still helpful. Even if you’re unable to get a free flow going, the saline flush can improve your breathing.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Boil a pot of water and allow it to cool completely
  • Add 2 grams of salt to your neti pot and fill with water
  • Place the neti pot spout up your nose
  • Tilt your chin forward, open your mouth to breathe and stick your elbow up in the air
  • Allow the water to enter your nose slowly, pass through your sinuses and out the opposite nostril
  • Refill your pot, switch nostrils, and repeat as needed
  • Blow your nose thoroughly afterwards

Sutra Neti

Sutra means thread in Sanskrit, and modern sutras are made of soft rubber. You can order them inexpensively online. We’d recommend using the thinnest one you can find as it will be more comfortable when you start.

It’s important to note that this is not a comfortable practice. You’ll likely sniffle and sneeze at first, and it takes some time to get used to it. That said, it’s incredibly effective.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Wash your sutra well with soap and warm water
  • Lubricate your sutra with saliva from your mouth
  • Insert the sutra into your nose slowly
  • Hum with your throat to counter the urge to sneeze and gently press your hand against the side of your nose where it’s entering
  • Twist slowly if you feel a block, but don’t jam or press hard
  • Continue until the sutra enters the back of your mouth near your tonsils
  • Slide in and out slowly, and then remove
  • Switch sides and repeat

If you like, you can use two fingers to reach to the back of your throat and grab the end of sutra so allow you to pull back and forth on both ends. This will often trigger a gag reflex, but only for a moment. Most people will finish this practice with a sneeze, mucus clearing, and temporarily red eyes. Within 10 minutes, these symptoms usually pass, and your nose will likely feel free and clear.