For me the long weekend was lovely, except for the stuffed sinuses. As a mother of a toddler I first thought, hum where did we pick up a new cold, but then I realized, these are allergies! As the warm weather begins, so do allergies. Here are a few ideas on how to cope with seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are beyond our control in many ways. With food allergies, we can just stop eating certain foods, but with seasonal allergies it is harder to stay away or avoid the triggers. Allergic reactions can become more severe depending your stress levels, your digestive health and your toxic load. Yoga and nutrition, when combined, can help manage (not cure) most allergy symptoms.
An effective tool many people find relieve sinus allergies is a Neti pot. They are fairly inexpensive and if used on a regular basis can help control sinus symptoms. For information on how to use a neti pot go to YouTube and you will find many videos. Another product a client of mine also finds useful if you don’t like neti pots, is HydraSense (http://www.hydrasense.ca/en/SymptomAllergies.aspx).
Yoga helps in relaxation. This can in turn help with allergies because the nervous system tells the immune system to hold its fire, and this helps inflammation and mucus decrease and lessen symptoms. This may mean for some people to do a slower practice, less vigorous and more calming. Some poses that may help lessen allergy symptoms are shoulder stand, plow and bridge pose.
How to (if you have never done these poses please read the detailed description):
Shoulder stand (avoid if any neck problems)- Take a blanket and fold in into a third length ways, fold the top part of your mat over the blanket, place the edge of the top of your shoulder along the top edge of the mat. So your neck is off the mat. Take your hands palm facing down beside you and as you press your hands into the floor lift legs and hips off the mat. Draw your feet up over head so the are reaching past your head (You can bend your knees).Bring your hands to your lower back and draw the elbows towards one another, start lift legs one at a time up to the sky. Keep the neck long…..stay for 10-20 breaths. For a more detailed description go to http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/480
Plow (avoid if any neck problems)- From shoulder stand, keeping the legs straight drop the feet behind the head as far as they reach, maybe even the toes can lengthen to the floor behind you. Keep lifting the hips towards the sky so the torso stays long. Stay for 10-20 breaths. To come out, bend knees, take the hands back to your mat and with control, using your hands to brace yourself, slowly roll your spine back to the mat one vertebra at a time. For a more detailed description go to http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/479
Bridge- From laying down on the mat bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor, hip distance apart. Bring your hands down beside the body and see if you can graze the back of your heels with your fingertips. From here, press into your feet and lift the hips off the floor, using the thighs to do all the work. Keep the neck long and bring your chest towards your chin. If a more restorative pose take a block under your sacrum (try the lowest height for the block first). For a deeper chest opener interlace finger behind you and using the arms pressing into the floor lift the hips higher. Stay for 10-20 breaths. For a more detailed description got to http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/472
What we eat can play a major role in allergy management. By taking the stress off the digestive system it can help calm the body and lessen symptoms. Try to avoid all dietary stressors (white sugar, wheat, alcohol), eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, get a full night of sleep, drink 8 glasses of water a day, and make sure you are doing some form of exercise.
Throughout the years I had worked in the health food stores I saw many products for allergies come and go on the market. The most effective were products that used ingredients like quercetin, vitamin c, b vitamins and herbs like nettle.
A wonderful product on the market (that I will be getting ASAP) is AOR Allercontrol. Everyone is different so some products may work for some and not for others. For more information on this product go to http://www.aor.ca/html/products.php?id=18
I hope this helps keep some of the allergy symptoms at bay so you can enjoy the warm weather!