While spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and shake off the chill of winter, for many of us the beautiful blossoming of spring flowers and trees means—ugh!—allergies. If you find yourself sneezing and sniffling each spring, why not try to find relief from your allergies this year through the ancient principles of yoga?
1. Practice Yoga Regularly
According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, allergies are aggravated by the build-up of excess toxins (ama) in the body. By gently massaging, stretching, and stimulating the internal organs, yoga asanas effectively help eliminate unwanted wastes and toxins. Yoga postures also improve digestion, enabling you to absorb full nutrition from your food, which in turn creates less waste. Best of all, yoga helps naturally increase your desire for the delicious, vibrant foods that both cleanse and nourish your body.
Yoga asanas also help balance and tone the nervous system, promoting a wonderful relaxation effect in the body, including:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slower pulse
- Deep, even breathing
- Reduction of stress hormones
- Increase in “feel good” endorphins
We know that stress drains and weakens the immune system, while practicing yoga asanas has the opposite effect. Yoga builds and strengthens your immune system, making your body less likely to react to everyday allergens.
You can practice yoga with Wai Lana by watching her TV show, if it’s on in your area, or by purchasing her yoga videos and DVDs.
2. Try a Yoga Diet
While yogis have known for centuries that a wholesome plant-based diet is ideal for mental, physical, and spiritual health, it’s interesting to know that modern scientists recently discovered that this same diet is also helpful for reducing allergy symptoms. They found that a vegetarian diet naturally decreases the level of histamines in the body. Histamines are the chemicals responsible for the miseries of allergies—sniffling, sneezing, etc.
Whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a moderate amount of dairy products form the basis of a healthy yoga diet. Light and refreshing soups, salads, fresh juices, and other light and healthy fare help to invigorate your body and improve digestion at this time of year. For recipe ideas, check out Wai Lana’s website or try Wai Lana’s Juice Book, which is full of delicious and refreshing juice and smoothie recipes.
3. Use Warming, Balancing Spices
Spices such as cumin, turmeric, coriander, and fennel help counter the damp coolness of the spring season. Ginger is the classic warming spice for improving digestion and burning up toxins, as well as reducing inflammation. Try some warm ginger tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Even hot water or herbal tea with lemon will have a nice balancing, warming effect on your body.
Turmeric is also very helpful for reducing the inflammation associated with allergies—a medicinal daily dose can really help. You can buy turmeric already in Vegicaps in the health food store, or if you don’t mind the taste too much, try taking a teaspoon daily with a big gulp of water. It can also make your cooking both flavorful and colorful—add some to a pot of rice or to veggies stir-fried with cumin seeds.
4. Get Plenty of Rest and Relaxation
Rest and relaxation are necessary to maintain health and balance. Getting enough sleep is essential for the health of your immune system. Take time to slow down and get into the activities you enjoy. It’s the perfect time of year to be outdoors, whether for nature hikes, bike rides, gardening, or whatever takes your fancy. We all need to give our bodies and minds time to recuperate from the hustle and bustle of daily responsibilities.
5. Practice Neti
The ancient yoga technique of neti, or sinus irrigation, is a proven method for reducing allergy symptoms. The concept is simple—by rinsing your sinuses with a mild saline solution once or twice a day, you remove allergens and congestion, greatly alleviating allergy symptoms.
Neti involves using a special neti pot filled with warm, slightly salted water. The nose cone is inserted into one nostril and the position of the head and pot is adjusted to allow the water to flow out of the other nostril. While the water flows through your nasal passages you breathe through your mouth. After half a pot has flowed in one direction, the water flow is reversed. When the water in the pot is finished, the nose must be properly dried.
Another simple yoga technique for reducing allergy symptoms is nasya—rubbing the inside of your nose with oil. To do nasya, first wash your hands thoroughly, then
clean the inside of your nose. Use a clean, short-nailed finger to rub oil on the inside of your nostrils. The best kind of oil is raw sesame oil or pure sunflower oil. Olive oil can be used as well. The oil catches dust, pollen, and other allergens before they have the chance to irritate your respiratory tract.
Spring Yoga Pose
Easy Fish – This simple asana opens the chest (making breathing easier) and stimulates the thymus, helping to strengthen and balance your immune system.
Try the Easy Fish asana along with Wai Lana.