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The Benefits of Yoga: Move your Body, Fight Allergies



The Benefits of Yoga: Move your Body, Fight Allergies

Whether you’ve tried it or not, you’ve heard about yoga. Yoga has its own culture and its own following and that’s not surprising because in 2012, 20.4 million Americans practiced the relaxing exercise routine. Besides relaxation, it has many health benefits as well. It can help you get that killer body you’ve always wanted while reducing stress, losing weight and fighting allergy symptoms.

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian science and a way of life for some people. It is a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and forms of relaxation. There are many other benefits of yoga including lower blood pressure and improved heart function.

We will show you some easy yoga poses at the end of this article that are perfect for beginners. Throw on your yoga pants, grab a mat and try them at home so you too can enjoy the benefits of yoga too.

The benefits of yoga--everything you ever wanted to know

Yoga has many health benefits. It helps ease stress and promote relaxation, increase focus and memory retention and allergy symptom relief.

Kiss stress goodbye

One of the many benefits of yoga is the significant reduction of stress.

In a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 30 University of Illinois undergraduate female students tried yoga for 20 minutes. They practiced a range of seated, standing and supine yoga postures. The session concluded with a meditative posture and deep breathing. Study participants also completed an aerobic exercise session where they walked or jogged on a treadmill for 20 minutes as well.

The researchers were surprised by the results. Yoga participants showed more improvement in their reaction times and accuracy on cognitive tasks than the aerobic exercise participants, who showed no significant improvements on their working memory and inhibitory control scores.

The breathing exercises of yoga aim at calming down your mind and body to keep distracting thoughts away so you can focus on your body, posture and breathing to reduce stress.

Kiss allergies goodbye--at least for now

Nearly 40 million Americans have seasonal allergies and the number of sufferers has doubled in the last 20 years. Allergies get in the way of work, socializing and even sleep. They make you feel tired, itchy, puffy and can put you in a bad mood. Allergens could be grass, pollen, dust or pet dander. If you think they only hit once a year, think again. Allergies tend to occur three times a year in spring (tree pollen), summer (grass pollen) and early fall (ragweed pollen).

When people have allergies, they become agitated and their stress levels go up. When that happens, the immune system can’t take it and starts to shut down. Doing something relaxing like yoga, can help silence your body’s flight-or-flight response and dramatically help improve those allergy symptoms. Once the immune system calms down, the inflammation and mucus will decrease—and symptoms will diminish. It’s not a permanent fix, but it’s definitely worth looking into so your allergies stop running your life.

Allergies and the benefits of yoga

The respiratory system is composed of the lungs, nose, mouth, sinuses and the passages that connect them. This system provides oxygen, gets rid of carbon dioxide and allows you to speak. Allergies often affect the respiratory system. Common allergic reactions are sneezing, watery eyes, runny or clogged noses, coughing, eye, nose, throat irritation and conjunctivitis. These reactions are the body’s ways of defending itself.

The wonderful thing about yoga is that it can stabilize your immune system, improve your breathing, decrease stress AND soothe your allergy symptoms.

When doing yoga stretches to improve allergy symptoms, it’s important to keep your head above your heart, to avoid over stimulating your body. You want to focus on your breathing. Place a stronger emphasis on exhaling. A shorter inhalation followed by a longer one has a calming effect.

Poses to soothe your allergy symptoms that even a beginner can do

-          Alternate-Nostril Breathing


This is one of the most common breathing exercises in yoga. Try this before you start stretching. It can help increase your body’s relaxation response.

Cover your right nostril and inhale through your left for a count of ten.

Hold your breath for five seconds. Then cover your left nostril and exhale through your right for a count of ten.

Inhale through your right nostril and hold for five seconds.

Cover your right nostril again and exhale through your left.

Do three more rounds.


-          Warrior Pose

This pose allows your chest and lungs to open and gravity to drain all that mucus that’s causing your stuffy nose.

Stand tall with your feet together and arms by your sides.

Inhale and step your feet wide apart.

Inhale and raise your arms overhead, shoulder-width apart, palms facing each other.

Exhale and turn your right leg out 90 degrees to the right and your left leg in 45 degrees to the right.

Exhale and rotate your hips and torso to face the same direction as your right leg. Take a deep breath.

As you exhale, bend your right knee, forming a right angle with your thigh and shin. Hold this position for 3 to 10 slow, deep breaths. Repeat on the left side.

-          Half Moon Pose

This pose eases breathing by opening up the lungs and the ribcage.

Stand tall with your feet together and arms by your sides.

Inhale and step your feet wide apart.

Exhale and turn your right leg out 90 degrees to the right.

Inhale and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height.

Exhale and reach your right arm way out to the right. Then reach your right hand down to the floor or your shin and your left arm up in a straight line, coming into Triangle Pose. Hold for 1 to 3 breaths.

Then place your left hand on your hip, bend your right knee slightly, and slide your left foot a little closer to your right.

Inhale and reach your right fingertips toward the floor several inches in front of your right foot as you lift your left leg, rolling the hip open to the left.

Lift your left arm. Turn your gaze to look up at your hand. If that's not helping your nasal congestion, find a more comfortable position for your head. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths.

To come out of it, lower your left arm to your left hip. Turn your gaze toward the floor. And slightly bend your right knee while gently lowering your left leg. Straighten your right knee, returning to Triangle Pose.

Switch sides and repeat.


-          Downward-Facing Dog

This pose may seem strange at first, but it actually helps trapped mucus drain from your nasal passages, providing allergy symptom relief.

Start on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders.

Raise your bottom, straighten your legs (it's okay to have slightly bent knees), and press your hands and feet firmly into the floor.

Inhale and exhale for a count of five. Repeat five times.

Then, walk your hands in close to your feet and slowly return to standing.


-          Supported Backbends


When you have allergies, the muscles between your ribs may get exhausted from pushing air past blocked nasal passages, which can lead to more painful wheezing. Backbends can soothe these muscles.

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and pulled in close to your bottom.

Starting with your tailbone, slowly lift your back. 

When your back is completely off the floor, slide three stacked pillows under your lower back.

Relax your shoulder blades down to the floor so your chest remains propped up.

Hold for two minutes.

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