With an increase in air pollution and the use of chemicals in our immediate environment, an increasing number of people are falling prey to allergic reactions. The particulate matter suspended in the air causes respiratory conditions like asthma and can even cause irritations in the eye. The food you eat could also directly or indirectly cause allergic reactions in your body because industrial farming practices invariably leave chemical residues which make their way to your gut.
While yoga is not an all-encompassing solution, it’s one of the many things you can do to take better care of your body and life energies. Certain poses and breathing techniques found in the yogic tradition can help strengthen your respiratory and digestive systems so that your body can cope with allergens without creating adverse reactions. Here are 5 yoga poses you can do regularly to fight allergies.
1. Kapalabhati Pranayama
Kapalabhati pranayama is breathing technique used in yoga to oxygenate and detoxify the body. This breathing method helps rejuvenate your respiratory system and can help with conditions like asthma. The forceful exhalation done during Kapalabhati removes allergens from the respiratory system.
To begin, sit in a comfortable position where your spine is straight and your abdomen is not compressed. Some options include:
An upright seated position, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Sitting on your heels, with your knees bent and shins tucked beneath your thighs in Hero Pose (Virasana)
A seated position on a chair with your feet flat on the floor
Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing down. Bring your awareness to your lower belly. To heighten your awareness, you can place your hands, one on top of the other, on your lower belly rather than on your knees.
Inhale through both nostrils deeply. Contract your low belly or use your hands to gently press on this area, forcing out the breath in a short burst.
As you quickly release the contraction, your inhalation should be automatic and passive — your focus should be on exhaling.
Begin slowly, aiming for 65-70 contractions per minute. Gradually quicken the pace, aiming for 95-105 exhalation/inhalation cycles per minute. Always go at your own pace and stop if you feel faint or dizzy.
After one minute of the exercise, inhale deeply through the nostrils, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Depending on your experience level, you may repeat the exercise.
2. Marichyasana (Marichi’s Spinal Twist)
Sometimes, certain foods that you eat create an allergic reaction in your body. Marichyasana is a stomach exercise which helps the stomach digest food better.
Start in Dandasana, sitting with your legs straight in front of you. You can fold a blanket underneath your hips, or roll half of the yoga mat to bring your hips a bit higher.
Bend your right knee, and bring the heel as close to the sitting bone as feels possible. Your right foot is flat on the ground, and the left foot is straight, left knee and toes are pointing up. Press the heel of the left leg onto the floor to activate the back of the leg.
You can keep a slight internal rotation in the left leg, while the right, bent leg has a slight external rotation. Turn your upper body gently towards the left, so that the right shoulder rotates towards the left leg, and the left shoulder rotates back.
Inhale your right arm up to shoulder level, and turn the thumb down. Exhale, start folding forward, and bring the right arm from outside your bent leg towards the right outer thigh.
Inhale, and with an exhalation bring your left arm behind your back, and take a hold of your wrists or fingers behind your back.
Keeping your back long, and keeping space between your pubic bone and navel, fold more forward. Draw your shoulder blades back towards your hands.
Stay for 3-6 long breaths. To come out, release the hands first, sit up slowly, straighten the leg and take a few breaths before you repeat on the other side.
3. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
This pose is ideal for people who suffer from seasonal allergies caused by dust, pollen, or other environmental factors. Matsyasana stimulates the thymus gland which, in turn, regulates the lymphatic system and stabilizes the immune system.
Lie on your back. Your feet are together and hands relaxed alongside the body.
Place the hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other.
Breathing in, lift the head and chest up. Keeping the chest elevated, lower the head backward and touch the top of the head to the floor.
With the head lightly touching the floor, press the elbows firmly into the ground, placing the weight on the elbow and not on the head. Lift your chest up from in-between the shoulder blades. Press the thighs and legs to the floor.
Hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can, taking gentle long breaths in and out. Relax in the posture with every exhalation.
Now lift the head up, lowering the chest and head to the floor. Bring the hands back along the sides of the body. Relax.
4. Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Anuloma Viloma is another powerful yogic breathing technique that can help you deal with allergic reactions to pet fur, dander, or saliva. This simple breathing technique keeps your respiratory system clean and also helps energize your body.
First, close your eyes and sit in Padmasana and rest your hands on your knees.
Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril, inhale the oxygen as much as you can without forcing in too much air. Take a full deep breath in.
Remove your thumb from your right nostril, as you remove your thumb from right nostril just exhale.
When you exhale use your middle finger to close your left nostril then inhale with our right nostril and remove thumb from right nostril then exhale.
Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Be focused and concentrate on your breathing.
5. Yoga Eye Massage
This yoga eye massage is performed by slowly closing the eyes and resting in the darkness. Gently massage the area around the eyes to improve blood circulation in that region. Doing this regularly helps reduce allergic eye reactions that lead to red, itchy and watery eyes. Regular eye massage can also help alleviate conditions like dry eyes.
Apart from doing these practices, you can also switch to organic foods and try to reduce chemicals in your immediate environment. Deodorants, cosmetics, bath and body products, cleaning agents, and paints contain chemicals which could cause allergies. Try to use chemical-free, eco-friendly products wherever possible to make a difference to your body and the environment.