Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Yoga Approach To Healing Allergies

I have been practicing yoga for a few years. While I cannot attribute the improvement in my allergic rhinitis condition directly to yoga, I believe it has made my lifestyle more balanced. Yoga has given me the space to slow down, breathe deeply and focus. Focus being in the present, focus in NOW. This is very important to me as in the daily buzz, I tend to want to do things quickly and my mind is forever occupied with things, big and small, past and future.

 How does Yoga help in allergies? 

Relaxation to boost the immune system
 "Allergies are worsened by a stress reaction, which causes physiological responses, including the release of stress hormones and histamine, and triggers inflammation. Relaxation diminishes fight-or-flight response, and thereby reduces allergic symptoms." says Jeff Migdow, M.D., director of Prana Yoga Teacher Training through the Open Center in New York as well as a holistic physician at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. (yoga journal)

Another doctor, Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., an allergist who is medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, adds: "Clearly, stress adds an extra burden on the immune system—not only in allergies but in asthma and other illnesses. Yoga and postural exercises exert a relaxation response that may modify the negative effects of psychological stress on proper immune function." (yoga journal)

So to all those suffering from allergies, the message is clear. We need to slow down and relax so that our bodies will produce less stress hormones, resulting in lower inflammation and mucus production.

Which Yoga poses are helpful for allergies?

1. Should stand (Sarvangasana) or other inversions
Inversions can help to improve nasal drainage and clear your sinuses. However, it is not recommended to keep your head down for too long as it adds pressure on the nasal passages.

2. Plow pose (Halasana)
This pose is good for releasing the tension at the neck area, which can help in improving the nasal drainage.

3. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) or backbends
Opens up the chest and lungs. Improves the lung capacity. Personally I like doing this pose as it helps to improve our posture.

4. Fish pose
Another great pose that opens up the chest and lungs.

5. Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)
This is great to practice breathing deeply when your allergies are not acting up. But when you are already having the runny and stuffy nose, stay away from this. Trust me, I can never do this with my stuffy nose.

Having said the above, one must realize that Yoga does not offer immediate relief when you are already suffering from the allergic symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and stuffy nose. You will still need medication for very bad allergy flare up. But Yoga is a great stress management technique and I strongly believe that it will improve your health in one way or another over time. Namaste!

p/s: Here's another yoga related post from me on allergy relief . Also if you are keen to explore yoga further, you can read more here.

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