Growing up in Austin (the allergy capital of the world), I’m used to springtime congestion, random headaches and general stuffiness.
I have, over the years, developed some secret remedies to ease the discomfort. This short series of traditional postures with modern twists will help you to take your seat both on the cushion and in the world—Even if it is allergy season.
1. Vajrāsana (lightning/thunder bolt, diamond posture) Neck Rolls/ Simhāsana (lion’s roar posture): As you exhale, let your left ear slide towards your left shoulder, then lower your chin towards your chest. On your inhale, lift your right ear towards your right shoulder. Then exhale, and release your right ear towards your right shoulder, lower your chin towards your chest and inhale your left ear up towards your left shoulder. Repeat as much as you desire.
Then, with your head facing forward, separate your knees and walk your hands forward, so that your wrists are in line with your knees. Point your fingertips back towards you and paint your palms across the earth (both thumbs point out towards knees). As you inhale, draw breath up your arms and into the back of your heart and in between your shoulder blades. Completely exhale powerfully from your belly and roar! Stick out your tongue towards your chin (simhāsana/ lion’s roar). Repeat at least three more times.
2. Adho Mukha Svanāsana (down dog/ bliss dog): Bend your knees so you can lengthen your low back as you root down into the index knuckes and reach your hips up towards the sky. Let your neck go as your swallow and breathe.
3. Anjaneyāsana (low lunge): Step your left foot forward and bring your right knee to the earth (pad your knee by folding your mat over or hooking it up with a blanket or towel). With your left hand on your left hip, inhale your right arm up towards your right ear, so that your torso curves slightly towards the left. As you exhale, let your elbow and upper back soften as you sweep your right arm through midline, and back to your right hip. With your right hand on your right hip, inhale and lift up from the inseams of the legs and extend all the way up through your left arm as you reach overhead, gradually curving your torso gently to the right. As you exhale, sweep your left arm across midline, softening your elbow, arm, neck and upper back. Repeat these arm movements at least two more times on each side, then switch legs.
4. Balāsana/ Jnanāsana (child’s pose/ wisdom asana): Walk your hands out in front of you. Breathe. Then walk your hands out to the right and breathe. Then walk your hands over to the left. Breathe some more. As your side waists lengthen with the breath, bring awareness to the underside of your body from the inner edge of your palm through the inseam of the arm and up through your armpit.
5. Trikonāsana (triangle pose): With your left foot forward, bring your left hand to a block, your leg or the ground inside your leg. Your right foot is parallel to the back edge of the mat, and your heels are in-line with each other. Bring the back of your right palm to your lower back and gaze at your left foot. As you inhale, sweep your right arm up towards your right ear and reach forward as your lift your gaze up towards the moving arm. Reach from the outer edge of your right foot up through your fingertips. As you exhale, circle your arm around you, and return the back of your right palm to your lower back as you lower your gaze down towards your left foot. Keep your neck soft and gaze flowing as you continue this three more times. Switch sides.
6. Śalabhāsana/halāsana (shoulder-stand/ plough pose): With a blanket under your shoulder, come up into shoulder-stand and feel the breath all the way up to your toes. Hold here, relatively still, focusing on the subtleties of your breath within your body. After a few minutes, reach your toes back over your head for halasana. Walk your toes towards your crown and reach up towards the back of your knees as you bring breath into the backside of your body. Come back through shoulder-stand, and slowly release your hips and legs back down to the earth.
7. Matsyāsana (fish pose): Walk your fingertips towards your bum and plug your forearms and palms into the ground. Root down into your arms, legs and the backs of your heels as you lift your heart towards the sky. As you breathe into the pose, extend your neck until you can reach your chin up towards the sky. Eventually let your neck go, and breathe up the front of your body, from the big toes, up the inseams of your legs, your heart, your throat, your third eye, all the way to your crown.
8. Supine twist: With knees together or apart, relax your body down towards the ground as you lengthen the top leg, from hip to knee.
9. Śavāsana: Because it wouldn’t be a full-circle without it.
As always, please consult a physician or medical person before engaging in this or any other health routine. Be sure to listen to your body and breathe. A lot.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti – May all beings be happy, healthy and free.
Ina Sahaja is a local Boulder yoga teacher, known for her dynamic Prana Flow classes and inspirational kirtans. She loves finding herself swimming, hiking, biking, translating Sanskrit poetry, singing Indian devotional music, and exploring obscure mountain trails with her dog. Join her online conversation at www.yogawithina.com or www.facebook.com/ina.sahaja.~Editor: Cassandra Smith