It’s allergy season here in the MOV, a time when many people suffer from stuffy noses and sinus pressure. Sometimes medicine alone works just fine, but other times when relief feels out of reach, other remedies are needed as well. Certain yoga poses and breathing techniques can be great aids in clearing out those sinuses and are easily accessible to beginners. Doing these every day even for just a few minutes will hopefully help ease your symptoms.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
If you are extremely congested and cannot breathe through both nostrils, this exercise might not be possible, and it could be better to avoid it until both nostrils clear up a bit. If you are able to breathe through both nostrils, practicing this exercise can provide quick relief by loosening up any stuffiness and allowing a clearer path for air to come in and out.
- Sit nice and tall in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. Using the right hand, take the index and middle finger and apply gentle pressure to the space between the eyebrows. The thumb will stay close to the right nostril, and the ring finer will stay close to the left nostril. Allow the left hand to rest in the lap.
- Close off the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril, pause and hold the breath.
- While still holding the breath, close off the left nostril with the ring finger and open the right nostril. Exhale out of the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril, pause and hold the breath. Close off the right nostril, and exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, pause, and exhale through the right nostril.
- Continue alternating for at least 8-10 breaths, or longer if it feels nice.
Standing Side Bend
This is a great pose to open up the nooks and crannies in the side body by stretching the ribs and lungs.
- Start standing with the feet hips width apart.
- Inhale the arms up overhead. Flip the right palm so it is facing the ceiling, and take the right wrist with the left hand.
- Press down through both feet evenly, reach up and over to the right. Make sure to try and take nice big inhales and exhales, staying in this pose for 5-8 breaths. Slowly come back up to center by reaching the hands up towards the ceiling, and repeat on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog using a Chair
Traditionally in Downward Facing Dog, the head is below the heart, but that can almost be too much pressure in the head when dealing with allergies. Instead, opt for this gentler version that excludes some of that pressure, but still offers a chance for the sinuses to drain while releasing tension in the back of the neck.
- Start by facing a chair. In the photo I am using the back of the chair, but play around with using the seat or other things at different heights to find what feels good for you. Make sure the feet are directly under the hips and facing straight forward.
- Place the hands somewhere on the chair and begin to walk the feet back so the torso is, or is close to, parallel with the floor. Arms should be fully extended.
- Try not to round the low back or let the ribs sag down. Keep the hips moving back, shoulders moving away from the ears, and the head in line with the rest of the spine. Stay here for several breaths.
This pose is a slight backbend and a great chest opener, which helps to expand the chest and lungs, and can even drain congestion in the sinuses. Backbends also soothe the muscles that get sore from coughing and sneezing.
- Begin by lying down. Bend the legs so the feet are standing on the floor. Place the feet hips width apart and bring the heels close to the sit bones.
- Keep the arms straight down by the sides so the hands are by the hips. Place weight in the heels, and lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Slightly draw the chin towards the chest, and breathe. Be careful that the knees do not splay out to the side. Try to imagine squeezing a block between the thighs.
- Stay here for 5-8 breaths and slowly roll back down.
Those are just a few great yoga poses you can do to help relieve allergy symptoms. But remember, yoga can only help in the management of allergies, not cure them. If you try any of these at home and they work for you, feel free to let us know! Tag your pictures with #yogaloveMOV to share your poses.