Spring in Tucson means hiking our deserts and mountains to view water running and see wildflowers in bloom, and pollen, pollen, pollen. For many, that means suffering through allergic reactions to that pollen with stuffed sinuses, burning and itching in the eyes, and just a general sense of misery.
A common way to address the allergy season is to take over-the-counter or prescription medicines to relieve these uncomfortable symptoms. Additionally, there are hatha yoga practices that can support symptom relief through a strategic approach utilizing breath, movement, and posture to build internal heat (not external) and burn away the build up of mucus, then calm and cool the body and mind with restorative postures.
Clearing the nasal passages
One technique for clearing the sinuses and nostrils is using a neti pot, where you run a saline solution through the nostrils to help clear the nasal passages. It’s important to follow directions (that come with commercially available neti pots) and be careful not to try to forcefully expel mucus build-up in the nasal passages.
Breathing tends to be a challenge during the allergy season. It can seem as if you can’t catch your breath, so the best way to begin is to begin by breathing out. If the nose is stuffed, open the jaw and softly exhale. Try to allow for the inhale to enter through the nostrils. The open jaw with exhale helps to relieve pressure build up in the head.
Hatha Yoga postures to ‘stoke the digestive fire’
Best postures here are standing poses that follow the breath and move the spine into extension, flexion, and following with gentle torso twists. Through movement, there is no chance for pressure to build in the sinus area, so discomfort is decreased. A gentle vinyasa flow class is a good choice here, especially if there is emphasis on standing poses where the head moves towards the ground from the waist on exhale.
It’s probably best to have a box of tissues handy. When you need to blow your nose, remember to stay gentle, so any mucus can flow out, rather than be forced.
Hatha yoga postures to cool
Restorative postures are best here, and there are several postures where the head is higher than the throat, which provides opportunity for the sinuses to gently open. Attending a restorative class with an experienced teacher will help you find the postures which best help you to relieve the sinus congestion.
With a little help from hatha yoga, you should be able to get out into the mountain meadows and desert valleys and enjoy the blooms.
For more yoga information; Arizona Yoga Association.