THERE are several yoga practices that will 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 also is no risk, so if you have allergies, you may want to give it a try.
There are studies that show yoga's effect on the immune system and yoga's awesome healing powers.
Those who are already engaged in a regular yoga routine will get the most from these, for those who are new to yoga, the relief may take a little longer as you begin to enjoy the benefits of less stress and a healthier immune system.
Recommended breathing exercises for the cold season:
- Kapalabhati Pranayama 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 light-headed if you do it incorrectly.
- Alternate nostril breathing - Nadi Sodhana is a calming, balancing breath. You must be able to breathe through both nostrils to do this pranayama, so it may not be possible if you are extremely congested.
- Shoulderstand - Salamba Sarvangasana which open the nasal passages for improved drainage. Do not hold the pose longer than a few minutes, however.
- Bridge Pose - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and other backbends help to expand the chest and lungs, giving you increased breathing capacity.
You may think 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, Iyengar, or gentle vinyasa 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, Bikram and Ashtanga may be appropriate.
Have a blessed week from Sai Yog.
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