While yoga is a common form of healing for overall physical health and mental wellbeing, few are aware of its benefits in regards to relieving allergies. Allergies are often caused by food, dust, pollen, dander, smoke, or, if you’re like 40 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, the great outdoors. While it seems easy enough to stay away from certain allergens, no one wants to avoid the outdoors when the sunny spring weather arrives. Luckily, many of yoga’s benefits can counteract allergy symptoms.
First and foremost, one of the main causes of allergies in the body is inflammation. Inflammation is very often caused by stress and the related hormones and histamines that it releases into the body. Luckily, yoga’s most notable benefit is relaxation. Yoga’s calming effect ebbs our natural fight or flight response, calming our nervous system and decreasing our symptoms. While there are no studies that document improvement in people with allergies who use these techniques, there also is no risk, so if you have allergies, you may want to give it a try. The following are a few yoga poses that can help relieve your allergy symptoms.
Inversion Poses. Inversion poses are known for their respiratory benefits and can help clear the lungs and drain secretions from the nose, allowing freshly oxygenated blood to flow into the oral cavity. Doing Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and Halasana (Plow Pose) can open nasal passages and help drain the sinuses. A lot of pressure can accumulate at the back of the skull and neck muscles. Halasana helps in releasing pressure and relaxing these muscles.
Back Bends. Allergies tend to make you hurt all over, making muscles tense and bones ache. Whether your aches and pains are from coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or merely struggling to breathe, both forward and back bends are known to aide in the overall health of the immune system and to soothe sore muscles. The two most common are Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose).
Chest-Opening Poses. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is a chest-opening pose that helps increase respiration and lung capacity, while the Uttanasana is a forward bend that helps drain congestion and relieve discomfort caused by allergies. Both relax the nervous system and alleviate anxiety.
Mindful Breathing. Mindful breathing is a big part of any yoga routine, so it makes sense that regular practice can help clear up allergy-related congestion. Avoid using any sort of forceful breathing, especially through the nostrils, as congestion might make this uncomfortable. Place a greater emphasis on your exhalations to clear the system and get an overall calming effect.
Have you found relief from seasonal allergies in your yoga practice? Leave us a comment and tell us your story!