Come springtime, the flowers, the radiant white clouds, the sparkling blue skies and the light cotton clothes all come right out and enjoy their time in the warmth of a gentle sun. Not so for those of us who battle allergies, and watch those outside with fear, wondering how much pollen they will be bringing in and whether we will have to wash our hair for the second time in the day!
Yoga has an answer to most problems, and allergies are no exception. Different allergies attack and weaken different aspects of our biology; so also Yoga handles various allergies through different means. Some are better tackled through breathing exercises while others respond well to asanas. Here are some Yoga-based strategies to fight the battle with our allergies.
Sethu Bandhasana or the Bridge pose:
Practice this asana on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. This asana stretches your neck and chest, to stimulate your lungs and ease your nasal passages. It also helps with reducing allergy-related symptoms like headaches and fatigue.
Vrikshasana or the Tree pose:
Practice it anytime of the day when your stomach is empty. Keep your eyes open through the pose for better balance, and hold the pose for one minute on each leg. As can be easily inferred, this pose helps you discover and regain your balance, both physical and in matters of life. With specific reference to allergies, it calms the nervous system and helps to ease and stretch the entire body.
Trikonasana or Triangle pose:
Practise this asana with an empty stomach, and with your eyes open. By strengthening and opening your chest, it helps ease the strain placed on your nasal passages by allergens. As a side benefit, this is also a very powerful stress-buster!
Sarvangasana or Shoulder Stand:
For the more experienced yoga practitioners among us, the shoulder stand is perhaps the most powerful tool in our arsenal against allergies. Besides improving blood flow, it naturally reduces the effects of irritants and flushes them out of our system. It also calms our nerves (much need during this time of the year!) and reduces insominia, which should be good news for those of who stay awake with breathing difficulties.
Now we can look at two breathing or pranayama techniques that will serve us well in fighting allergies. Both should be learnt from trained teachers and practised in the right way, at the right times, to derive the fullest benefit.
This cleansing technique literally means “Skull shining breath”. It clears all the passages in the head – most of which are respiratory. It removes mucus from the nasal passages, relieves congestion, and also improves lung capacity. It is best done in the morning on an empty stomach, espceially if one is feeling cold and slow.
This is also known as Ocean Breath due to the sound it creates, and its Sanskrit name “Ujjayi” literally means victorious breath. It is often used in tandem with specific asanas. It encourages full expansion of the lungs, and as it requires complete focus on your breath, it helps calms the mind.
These are some of the simple ways you can use Yoga to combat allergies, and, in every sense of the word, breathe easy!
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