Relief From an Allergy Attack


By Gary Kraftsow  |  

This seven-posture sequence offers a mildly stimulating practice that emphasizes the breath but prevents the head from going beneath the waist, which would increase pressure in the head. We perform these poses in a chair to avoid this excess pressure.

The sequence begins with back bending and moves on to twisting. We end with a longer pranayama, beginning with a retention (retaining the breath after an inhale), continuing with a suspension (pausing after an exhale), and finishing with both. These practices have been shown to be helpful in keeping the system from stagnating and clearing blocked sinuses. The breath work should help sufferers feel lighter and stronger in the body and head.

1. Begin by sitting in a chair with your back straight and your hands on your knees. As you inhale, stretch your arms out to your sides. As you exhale, move the arms back to your knees. Repeat this movement six times, beginning with a 2-second inhale retention (repeat twice), moving on to a 3-second retention (repeat twice), and finishing with a 4-second retention (repeat twice).

2. Next, stand up from the chair and prepare for a modified version of Warrior Pose I. Stand with a tall spine and the legs spread wide. Point your front toes straight ahead and your rear toes at 45-degrees. Inhale with your arms at your sides and lift your chin slightly. As you exhale, open the arms, bend the front knee, and lower the chin. Repeat this movement six times on each side, beginning with a 2-second inhale retention (repeat twice), moving on to a 3-second retention (repeat twice), and finishing with a 4-second retention (repeat twice).

3. From here, stand tall with your legs together in Mountain Pose. Inhale and lift your arms over your head. Then exhale and bend your knees deeply, folding your body over your thighs and bringing your hands to the floor in a modification of Ardha Utkatasana. Then inhale to stand tall, bringing your arms back over your head. Repeat this movement six times, beginning with a 2-second exhale suspension (repeat twice), moving on to a 3-second suspension (repeat twice), and finishing with a 4-second suspension (repeat twice).

4. Now return to your chair for a twist. Bring your knees together and lengthen your spine. Take your left hand to your right knee and place your right hand on the chair behind your sacrum. Inhale in this position. As you exhale, twist to the right, taking your gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale and return to your starting position. Repeat this movement six times on each side, beginning with a 2-second exhale suspension (repeat twice), moving on to a 3-second suspension (repeat twice), and finishing with a 4-second suspension (repeat twice).

5. The next posture will be a forward bend on your chair. Sit up tall and lift your arms up over your head. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, fold forward on your chair, reaching your arms toward the floor. Your next inhale will bring you back to sitting with your arms overhead. Repeat this movement six times, beginning with a 2-second exhale suspension (repeat twice), moving on to a 3-second suspension (repeat twice), and finishing with a 4-second suspension (repeat twice).

6. After your forward fold, you will be ready to practice a breathing exercise. Sit up with a long spine and your hands on your knees. Begin cultivating your inhale retention by taking six deep breaths. Start by holding the breath in for 2 seconds. Repeat this twice, then move on to 3 seconds (repeat twice), and finally to 4 seconds (repeat twice). Next, work on your exhale suspension by taking six deep breaths. Start by pausing with the breath out for 2 seconds. Repeat this twice, then move on to 3 seconds (repeat twice), and finally to 4 seconds (repeat twice). Finally, develop a pause after the inhale and a pause after the exhale, taking six breaths. Start by holding the breath in for 2 seconds on the inhale, and pausing with the breath out for 2 seconds on the exhale. Repeat this twice, then move on to 3 seconds (repeat twice), and finally to 4 seconds (repeat twice).

7. You are now ready for final relaxation. Rest comfortably in your chair with a tall spine and your hands on your knees. Remain here for 3 to 5 minutes.