Though a stuffy nose may make it hard to breathe deeply or do your regular practice, don’t give up on yoga. Yoga therapist Kate Vogt says deep, steady breathing can relieve allergy symptoms. For example, when your breath gets disrupted by sneezing attacks, you may start to breathe shallowly, collapsing your chest and tensing the muscles that support the rib cage. A slow practice that stretches the sides, front, and back of the torso can reverse this. “Stretching the torso gives you more freedom of movement in the chest,” says Vogt. “You may also gain more confidence that things will get better.”
But if asanas feel like too much effort, Vogt suggests a simple seated practice to deepen and even out your breath. Count slowly to three as you inhale, and count to four as you exhale through pursed lips. Gradually start to lengthen each breath: Count to four on the inhale and five on the exhale. Find the rhythm that’s right for you.
Practice: Open Wide
Create more space in your upper body to welcome the breath. Practice slowly, pausing between sides to notice how you feel.
Standing Side Stretch: Plant both feet firmly as your stretch. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Downward Dog (variation): Push your hands down on a table to stretch your back for at least 30 seconds.
Dynamic Warrior I: Lift your arms as you bend your front knee. Then lower arms as you straighten leg. Repeat, moving with your breath.
Supported Savasana: Lie on a bolster with your head elevated in order to encourage sinus drainage.
Herbalist Mary Rondeau in Fort Collins, Colorado, says the compounds in stinging nettles soothe the body’s inflammatory reaction and can help control allergies. Try stinging nettle tea, and find other dietary suggestions here.