Yoga, for when allergies attack
For those of you that have allergies, I’m sure you know that there’s nothing’s more annoying than sneezing 15 times in a row (my personal record), having tissues stuffed up all the way up your sleeves, feeling congested from your toes to the top of your head and having to breathe in a very heavy, laboured way through your mouth.
It’s uncomfortable, distracting and worst of all, it can strike at any time (including during an extension History HSC exam for me years ago. What fun that was).
And so that’s how I spent my Sunday – rugged up with a box of tissues by my side as I sniffed and sneezed and cursed those wretched dust mites that strike up the sniffles in me every now and then.
Now, you can run for medication at the first sign of that tingly and congested feeling, but I’ve never been a fan of that and personally, it’s never been of any help to me. Thankfully, yoga offers some alternatives.
When you’re sneezing non-stop chances are you probably won’t be able to do your normal yoga routine while still remaining centred and focused. Instead, you can opt for more calming postures that can help soothe the body and allow you to breath easy.
Try asanas that open the chest such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, the bridge pose. This pose expands the lungs allowing up to take in more air. You can also do the pose supported with a block under your sacrum to make it that extra bit easier for you.
Inversions are also beneficial for clearing the respiratory tract. Sarvangasana, shoulder stand and halasana, plough pose open the nasal passages and help drain the sinuses. For a gentler variation, try viparita karni with your feet extended and resting up against the wall.
Remember to go gently with your yoga practice when you have allergies or a cold. Avoid placing any additional pressure on the nasal passage by having your head down in the poses like downward dog for too long.
If you suffer more with a blocked nose, try kapalabhati. In general, all breathing exercises are beneficial for clearing the nasal passages and for calming the body and mind. Kapalabahti has the added benefit of focusing on a series of rapid, forceful exhalations which are effective for relieving congestion. This process does create heat in the body, and can create dizziness so it’s best to take it easy. Rounds are typically, 1 minute each. but if practicing with a cold go for 30 seconds and see how you feel.
If yoga isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other natural options to try including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homoeopathy – the list goes on!
What allergies do you suffer from? What natural options do you use to treat allergies?