6 Yoga Poses For Allergy Relief When Pollen Is Ruining Your Ability To Breathe
I hate to be a Debbie-downer in this gorgeous weather, but along with all this sunshine comes allergy season, my friends. As amazing as it is to finally be able to spend time outside, ya boy pollen is here to try and ruin all the fun. While allergy meds are an absolute must during spring, you might not know there are also yoga poses for allergy relief that can help ward off that incredibly annoying, tickling sensation that's rudely taken residence in your nose and throat.
In case you're one of the few lucky ones among us who hasn't been hit hard by allergies this season, allow me to break down just how irritating it is for some of us to be outside right now: According to AccuWeather's 2018 spring allergy forecast, high pollen counts have already made their debut across Florida and Georgia, and by the end of May, allergy season is likely to be in full swing in all, or at least most of the U.S. So if you're not yet suffering from puffy eyes, an itchy nose, and the constant urge to sneeze, get ready, because pollen is coming for you, girl.
And when it does, take that as your cue to roll out your yoga mat for some serious mind-body relief. Yes, it's definitely still important to talk to your doctor and use any medications prescribed to you for your allergies, but to supplement all that good stuff, a soothing, balancing yoga flow will give your body and mind an extra layer of protection to help keep your worst allergy symptoms at bay — or, at the very least, teach you how to breathe mindfully when your nostrils are clogged AF.
1. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Start your flow in an energizing and chest-opening backbend to clear your mind and help push any dust or pollen right out of your system. Backbends help your lungs expand, which is exactly what you need when every inhale throws you into yet another coughing fit.
Pretend you're squeezing an imaginary brick between your thighs so they don't splay out in this pose, which could lead to some uncomfortable pinching in your lower back and sacrum. Repeat three rounds of setu bandha sarvangasana to help release your upper and lower back, so you can properly prepare for a deeper backbend.
2. Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
Tune into how your body is feeling. Are you ready for a deeper backbend? If so, it's time to make your way into wheel pose. If you're content with bridge pose, and that's working for you in the present moment, that's totally fine — stick with what feels best for you, girl.
If you decide to experiment with wheel pose, place your palms near your ears, and lift your body into an upside down "U" shape. This backbend should feel rejuvenating and energizing, and you should never have to push or strain anything. Be sure to remember that imaginary brick between your knees. Keep squeezing, and keep breathing deeply and fully. I find backbends are best done in threes, so repeat chakrasana three times through, with short rests in between.
3. Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
Return down to your back, and hug your knees into your chest for a few moments to help release your lower back. Then, prepare yourself to shift into a strong, supported shoulder stand to calm your mind and relieve any internal stress you might be feeling from your allergies.
Keep your head centered, and gaze softly at your chest to protect your neck. Beginners should stay in sarvangasana for about 30 seconds, and advanced practitioners can extend their time as much as they see fit.
4. Plow Pose (Halasana)
While you're still in your shoulder stand, guide your legs further back, and place your feet near your ears for plow pose. If you've never tried this asana before, I know it might look complex and scary at first glance, but it's pretty straightforward, and trust me, it feels amazing.
Halasana will help relieve any pressure that's accumulated in your body during allergy season by opening the muscles at the back of the neck and near the base of the skull. Continue to breathe, and notice how the pressure in your nose and throat changes or releases in this asana.
5. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Using slow, deliberate, mindful movements, come out of your plow pose, vertebrae by vertebrae. Once you're back to lying flat on your mat, maneuver your body into matsyasana, the counter-pose for shoulder stands and plow. This inversion should help open up your throat and lungs, making it a bit easier for you to breathe through any of your allergy-related discomfort.
Press out throughout your heels, and keep your thighs active as you find strength in fish pose. Be sure to balance this bodily engagement with a mindful sense of serenity by closing your eyes and taking luxuriously deep inhales and exhales.
6. Three-Part Yogic Breath (Dirga Pranayama)
Release out of your fish pose, and allow yourself a few moments of well-deserved rest. Then, make your way up to a comfortable seated position to seal your flow with a simple breathing exercise.
This three-part breathing technique teaches you to breathe fully and completely, providing a copious amount of oxygen to your blood vessels, and giving your lungs a rest from the hard work they've been doing in the midst of allergy season.
Close your eyes, and notice how this new breathing technique makes you feel, from head to toe. For a moment, you might just forget about how much you hate your allergies.