Yoga Can Help Your Allergies

Woman Blowing Her Nose
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Seasonal nasal allergies, sometimes called hay fever, are triggered by pollen in the air. Ragweed pollen appears each fall, while newly blooming trees, grasses, and weeds are often the culprits in the spring and summer.

Though many people find relief in physician-prescribed medications, there are several yoga practices that may help to alleviate allergy symptoms, including runny noses and inflamed sinuses.

While there are no studies that document improvement in people with allergies who use these techniques, there is also little risk, so if you have allergies you may want to give them a try.

It should be noted, however, that the isolated use of these suggestions will probably not offer instant relief. People who already do yoga regularly will get the most from adding these practices to their routines, and may already be enjoying the added benefits of less stress and a healthier immune system.

Breathing Exercises

  • Skull Shining Breath — Kapalabhati Pranayama

    Kapalabhati breath consists of a series of rapid, forceful exhalations and passive inhalations. This has long been believed to clear out the nasal passages where allergens lurk and thus offer some relief from irritation. This is a heat-generating breath, however, so limit yourself to a single round at the start of your practice. I recommend learning this breath from an experienced teacher, as you may become lightheaded if you do it incorrectly.

Poses

  • Legs Up the Wall

    Legs up the wall is a gentler alternative inversion. Try it with a bolster under your hips. You can stay in this position for quite some time. 

  • Bridge Pose  Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

    Bridge Pose and other backbends help to expand the chest and lungs, giving you increased breathing capacity. A supported bridge is also a nice option.

Yoga Types

  • Some people find that vigorous practices that heat up the body aggravate their allergies, while others find getting sweaty helps drain and clear the nasal passages. If you fall into the former group, practice hatha yoga, gentle vinyasa or restorative when you are suffering from allergies. These types of yoga will give your body the benefits of stretching without generating too much heat. If the heat helps you, hot yoga or power yoga may be appropriate. 

Sources:

Yoga Journal, Breathe Easy by Alice Lesch Kelly

Yoga Journal, Allergy Antidote by Angela Pirisi