Yoga for Allergy Relief
Spring has finally arrived; the green grass, the flowers in full bloom! Get outside in the sunshine and take a big breath… and here it comes. The itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, and irritation take all the fun out of the beauty of nature. We could just stay inside (No way, have been there for months!), take over-the-counter medication, see our physician for a series of shots, or just suffer through. Well, good news! We have yoga for that.
We all know that yoga, in general, strengthens our bodies, calms the mind, and helps us breath deeper. Let’s look into some specific yoga techniques that may help to relieve some of those spring allergy symptoms that make us cranky:
Note: As YogaFit has always taught us first and foremost, “breathing, feeling, listening to our bodies, letting go of competition, judgment, and expectations, and staying in the present moment” will always guide our practice for the best outcome.
Asana, the physical poses that make up a majority of our yoga class, can lengthen, strengthen and stretch our bodies to help us breathe more deeply. If our symptoms are severe to moderate, it is suggested to work with more restorative poses using blocks or bolsters.
Here are a few restorative poses to try:
- Fish with blocks or bolster along the spine
- Bridge with support under the sacrum
- Legs up pose with support under the sacrum
- Childs pose over a bolster or with forehead to a block
- Downward facing dog with support or forehead to a block
If our symptoms are light to moderate and we want to work deeper on lengthening the muscles of the torso, opening our chest for more breath work, and maybe “loosening up” some of the drainage that is part of these lovely allergies, we might want to try a few of these more active poses:
- Intense standing side stretch
- Standing camel pose
- Warrior 1 with “goal post arms” and a lift in the sternum
- Half moon balance
- Shoulder stand
- Plow pose
Pranayama, the breathing techniques we practice during asana or as a stand-alone practice certainly help to reduce the inflammation, congestion, and drainage of our allergies. Try these techniques to open up nasal passages:
- Alternate nostril breathing-practiced by closing off one nostril at a time for full inhales and exhales. This balances the breath, calms the mind, and supports lung and respiratory function.
- Bee’s breath is done by creating a humming sound during exhales. This vibration can stimulate the membranes of the sinuses, reduces anxiety, and maintain healthy carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
- 2-to-1 breathing ratio can be practiced during sun salutations or other active asana practices. By breathing is slightly forcefully for a count of two and then a slower exhale to the count of four can help clear sinus passages and to keep our minds focused on the present moment.
Meditation quiets the mind helping to alleviate the irritation, distraction, and outright crankiness that allergy symptoms can trigger. There are so many sources available for guided meditation whether you use an app such as Insight Timer, YouTube, podcasts, or an online yoga subscription like YogaGlo. It is so easy now to pop in some earbuds, and sit or lie down comfortably, and let the soothing narrative take you to a state of peaceful presence.
Susan Bentley has been a yoga instructor at 24 Hour Fitness in Folsom, California for over ten years. She is RYT-500 and C-IAYT certified. She is currently enrolled in the YogaFit Health Care 900-Hour Teacher Training program.