Yoga and Allergic Rhinitis
I have got allergic rhinitis since young. It’s been plaguing me for the longest time. Due to factors like environmental pollution, and increased stress, my immune, nervous and respiratory system will go haywire.
I have tried all remedies. Controlling dust and dust mites – I love soft toys and will like to cuddle them to sleep but because of my issue, I don’t. I have donated many of my soft toys and I don’t sleep with any. I have also tried air humidifier, taken anti-histamines, tried acupuncture, massage etc. I would say it’s more controlled nowadays. But every now and then, it will act up. And it will mean sleepless nights and lousy moods.
So I am determined to bring it under control. With pranayama and yoga practices, I hope to resolve my allergic rhinitis. Well, at least to stay off medication and nasal sprays.
Research has shown that Yoga helps to balance the nervous system of our bodies. Stress triggers sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight system of body). Long standing stress increases over reactivity to even normal situations and so is the behavior of nasal lining. Hence calming down the nervous system decreases reactivity of lining to allergens.
Psychologists say that if you cannot express your feelings of frustration, anxiety or anger, it shows up as Nasal Allergy. So yoga teaches us how to overcome our emotional sensitivity. Thus yoga is the real way to cure Nasal Allergies, as it teaches us how to correct the imbalances in us.
Anuloma Viloma pranayama is an easy asana to do. It should be done ideally in the morning. One should sit comfortably in padmasana or sukhasana, keeping back straight and breathing normally. Form the pranayam posture with right hand. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and exhale slowly through the left nostril. Now inhale, slowly to your maximum capacity and then close left nostril with your ring and little finger and lift the thumb off the right nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Then again inhale slowly through the right nostril and close it with thumb and lift your ring and little finger from left nostril and exhale slowly. This is one complete round.
This pranayama purify 72,000 nadis and is helpful in various allergic disorders caused by dusts, pollens etc. It controls asthma. It has been a wonder in controlling hypertension, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. This yoga regulates sleep and decreases various types of phobias.
This yoga pose is known to open up nasal passageways for improved drainage. As the whole body is inverted, the nasal cavity is widened to drain the sinuses. It also brings lymph towards the lungs to be cleaned and increase defenses in the immune system. Inversions can help clear the upper respiratory tract and drain secretions from the nose, allowing freshly oxygenated blood to flow into the oral cavity.
The neti pot should be filled with lukewarm saline water; it should be neither too hot nor cold. Before introducing into the nose, the temperature should be tested by putting it over the dorsum of the hand. The water should be prepared by mixing 1 tsp. of sea salt to half a liter of water. This equates to 0.9% and is called isotonic solution which is same as the human blood.
One should stand leaning forward, up to the waist. Place the nozzle of the neti pot into the right nostril, sealing it inside the nostril with a few twists and slight pressure. The spout should be straight up in line with the nasal passage so that the tip of the nozzle on the inside of the nose does not completely block off the nose. The head should be tilted to the left and the breathing should be from the mouth. One should avoid sniffing, swallowing, laughing, talking or movement of air through the nose while doing neti.
This stage of nasal cleansing works on clearing gross matter such as dirt, bacteria and mucus from the main frontal nasal passages as well as drawing infections and old mucus down from the frontal sinus passages. This is a voluntary training that helps in self-retraining the over-reactive lining of the nose, teaching our nose to tolerate even other substances such as dust or pollen or cold air.
Next time my allergies start to act up, I will strike one of these head-clearing poses / pranayama. I am working on building patience, discipline and good health through Yoga.
200hr Weekend (Jul-Oct)
1. W. D. Whitney (Ed.). Sayana Bhashya, Atharva Veda. Vol I. 2004. 9/8/1, A. V. 12-4-4.10-2-32, 12-4-5).
2. Allergic Rhinitis Update: Epidemiology and Natural History. Bellanti JA.
Yoga and Allergic Rhinitis