There was a time when I suffered terribly from respiratory allergies.
I remember shying away from venturing outdoors when the pollen season was at its peak. Only those who suffer the symptoms of allergic rhinitis know how debilitating it is.
The runny nose, watery eyes, itching and sneezing fits can drive any person nuts and interfere with their day-to-day functioning. My allergies stemmed from both the dust mites and pollen.
Yes, the anti-histamines helped sometimes. And at other times, I had to go for stronger medication. But the allergies were always just around the corner.
Fed up, I sought a better treatment, something that could reduce my susceptibility to respiratory allergies. I wanted to escape this cyclical misery every season. I wanted to stop pumping medicines into my body that did not heal.
That is when I got some well-meaning advice to try yoga. The Pranayams or breathing exercises are known to strengthen the respiratory system and also give a boost to immunity. I started slowly and with apprehension, not expecting too much, but six months of yoga practice and I could visibly see a difference.
Here is how yoga helped me get on top of my respiratory allergies:
Pranayams: Pranayams or breathing exercises helped me immensely.
I did Anuloma Viloma, Kapalabhati, and Bhastrika Pranayam among others. Some people swear by Jalneti for allergic rhinitis. I have never done it personally. These pranayams helped me understand my breathing, cleared my nasal passages and strengthened the sinuses. I did see remarkable improvement in my allergies after doing this exercise regimen for four to five days every week for six months.
Meditation: I have immensely benefited from meditation.
It helps in reducing stress and making me feel calmer. Stress is a precursor to many problems in our lives including allergies. I did find my immunity improving with regular meditation. My regular headaches got better and the episodes of allergies got fewer and lower in intensity.
Chanting: Like meditation, chanting helps in calming and focusing the mind.
I find my body filled with energy when I chant. I also feel in deep control of my breathing. Chanting helps me achieve communion with my body and mind. I can do it any time of the day even when I take breaks during my work. It instantly calms the mind.
The above three along with yoga asanas or postures helped me fight respiratory allergies and also build a fitter and more toned body. Yoga as a holistic system of health is beneficial in helping us gain mindfulness towards our bodies, our life choices and our health, which in turn helps us control auto-immune conditions like allergies.
If you are a beginner, make sure you join a good yoga class to learn the techniques and postures correctly. Subsequently, you can do yoga at home. Try the yoga approach to beating allergies. It will give you long-term sustainable benefits.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Bill Benzon/Flickr, Brian Moore/Flickr
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