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Application of Standardised Yoga Protocols as the Basis of Physiotherapy Recommendation in Treatment of Sleep Apneas: Moving Beyond Pranayamas


Yoga is an ancient Indian practice of mental and physical exercises (syn: asanas), postures (syn: mudras), movements and breathing techniques which sustain healthy living of the body and the mind. It incorporates various exercises of breathing, oropharyngeal structures and facial expressions, the physiology and effect of which are comparable to international physiotherapy recommendations in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) i.e. to preserve upper airway patency by maintaining airway dilator muscle tone. Preliminary results show that yoga can be an effective and constructive alternative to physiotherapy for sleep apnea and snoring patients. To compare the physiotherapy recommendations in snoring patients with various yoga exercises postures. To determine the efficacy of yoga in treatment of sleep apnea. To formulate a standardized yoga protocol for universal usage in sleep apnea. We studied the available literature on physiotherapy recommendations for OSA and yoga asanas involving the nasal, oropharynx and facial structures and perceived a noteworthy similarity in physiological basis of both. A set of these yogasanas were put together and patients presenting with snoring and diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea were presented and encouraged to perform the standardized set of yoga exercises for a period of 3 months. A total of 23 patients were recommended yoga protocols as initial form of treatment in snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. Clinical and statistically significant improvement gauzed by recommended score chart was discerned in majority of subjects. The results were comparable to the efficacy of existing physiotherapy regimen published in international literature. The benefits of yoga in sleep disorders go beyond the scope of measured outcomes. Standardizing the protocols for yoga in treatment for snoring and sleep apnea is the need of the hour. Further studies on efficacy of yoga need to be performed to understand its full realm of potential.

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Correspondence to Vivek Kumar.

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Kumar, V., Malhotra, V. & Kumar, S. Application of Standardised Yoga Protocols as the Basis of Physiotherapy Recommendation in Treatment of Sleep Apneas: Moving Beyond Pranayamas. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 71 (Suppl 1), 558–565 (2019).

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  • Snoring
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Yoga
  • Yogasana
  • Physiotherapy
  • Oropharyngeal muscle