Yoga as an Allergy Treatment

By staff

A number of allergy sufferers seek alternative treatment to their symptoms rather than live months in the fog of constant antihistamines. People try modifying their diets, taking supplements, keeping their windows closed and staying inside. These can be effective, along with some other techniques, including yoga. Yoga is a measure that has helped many people with allergies overcome their symptoms and find relief from their sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throats and the myriad of other symptoms that go along with seasonal and environmental allergies or any type of allergy that affects the upper respiratory system.

We all know yoga is good for the soul, good for the body, and good for strengthening, relaxing and increasing flexibility. But yoga possesses so many other positives, including increasing memory and energy levels, and abating symptoms of allergies. It is also a good activity to practice indoors at times when the pollen counts are too high for some people to exercise out of doors. Yoga also can be practiced at a variety of levels which can help when you need a more moderate, gentle exercise in your routine when your allergies kick in, whether due to seasonal influences or other environmental factors.

Many allergy sufferers who turn to yoga claim that they soon notice they no longer sneeze as frequently and that they notice a consistent reduction in post nasal drip and scratchy throats, along with a more general ease in breathing. The headaches that go along with seasonal/environmental allergies are also greatly reduced, not only due to the way yoga increases lung capacity and focuses on breathing, but also because of the relaxation techniques taught in yoga practice.

Often times people find that when traveling, allergy symptoms arise, due to differing plants, trees and pollen counts in different areas,  even the cat the friend you’re visiting has! Once learned, you can improvise and do your yoga postures wherever you are and find allergy relief. No equipment is needed, not much space is required and you can do it in a short amount of time. If anything, the focus on the breathing, the focus on the self and the focus inward will calm your mind as well as your body and respiratory system.

Because allergies stress our bodies (which leads to stressful minds), yoga can help deal with the stress and help us to feel better. It’s also the deep, watchful breathing that yogis do that settles the body and can help fight against allergies. The article I read specifically lists two poses (asanas) that are good for allergies.

1. Warrior One Pose. This one allows your lungs and chests to open and helps the mucous drain to relieve stuffiness and congestion.
2. Half Moon Pose. This helps in opening the lungs and chest to help you breathe normally, too.

See the article for details on the poses as well as a video for each of them.

The relaxation that benefits your body during yoga with deep, focused breathing not only clears your stuffy chest and nasal passages during allergies, but it can also combat the release of histamines that cause all the allergy symptoms.

It seems the poses that open the chest and focus on breathing are what helps allergies the most through yoga. Remember, if you choose to begin a yoga practice, be gentle with yourself at first. Many yoga poses take lots of practice to get into and are not as “gentle” as they seem. One of the pluses of yoga is that it can be done anywhere, so if you travel a lot or don’t have access to a gym, you can still do yoga and relieve your allergies wherever you are. When the weather is pollen free, you can even take it outside on nice days, but while the pollen is out, keep your yoga practice indoors with closed doors and windows.

If you already practice yoga, it is a good idea to discuss specific poses with your instructor to help you with your allergy symptoms; there are specific ones that help. If you are new to yoga and want to practice for the specific purpose of reducing/eliminating allergy symptoms, let your instructor know that as well. You may find you enjoy it so much that you want to continue for the many other added benefits yoga can provide!

- Heather Legg

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