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Fitness and health go hand in hand, and this section of our health library is devoted to exploring the relationship between these two very important aspects of life.

The Benefits of Yoga: Move Your Body & Fight Allergies

Allergies can be quite the nuisance for individuals experiencing them. Generally, individuals turn to daily medications and nose sprays to reduce allergies. However, many may benefit from a more holistic approach that encompasses yoga with its associated poses and breathing techniques.

The Benefits of Yoga: Move Your Body & Fight Allergies


Allergies can be quite the nuisance for individuals experiencing them. Itchy eyes, runny noses, wheezing and coughing, there is not much that sounds pleasing about them. With a wide variety of remedies, can yoga truly be a sinus treatment?

Understanding Allergies

First off, allergies are an immune response by the body. The response is specifically facilitated by an allergen - commonly by fur, pollen, dust, insect stings, and certain foods. When an individual is hypersensitive to an allergen, a cascade of unpleasant signs and symptoms follow and may potentially be fatal.

But when it comes to the best medicine for allergies, the answer is a little bit more widespread and may differ related to the reaction cause. Generally, individuals turn to daily medications and nose sprays to reduce allergy consequences throughout the day. However, those who experience allergies may benefit from a more holistic approach that encompasses yoga with its associated poses and breathing techniques.

Yoga for Allergen Benefits

So when it comes down to it, how can yoga actually subside allergic reactions? Some theorists explain when experiencing allergy responses, agitation and stress levels may arise. In turn, the immune system can shut down and exacerbate allergy symptoms that are unable to be combated. Practicing yoga has been shown to induce relaxation and may be able to quiet down strong immune responses. And if practicing yoga indoors, it reduces the risk of being exposed to common allergens outside.

Additionally, specific yoga poses can open up the upper respiratory tract and drain sinuses. Poses that keep the head down too long, though, can put too much pressure on nasal passages and aggravate allergy symptoms. Beneficial sinus treatment in yoga include inversions (http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/types/inversions/) and the following yoga poses:

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. Repeat for three more rounds.

Warrior Pose
This pose allows your chest and lungs to open and gravity to drain mucus that causes a 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 the pose, 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 is 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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