3 little known techniques to help with Spring Allergies
This post was beautifully edited by Kajal Dhabalia
Spring is here! After going through the short, gray days of winter, spring arrives fulfilling Nature’s promise of light and color, of hope and rebirth. But, with spring (and plants and flowers) also come the sniffles, the sneezes, the watery eyes and itchy throats! For many of us spring is also a time when allergies attack leaving us feeling tired and miserable, but luckily there are some things we can do to lessen the symptoms and feel a little bit more open and relaxed.
1. Neti Pot
To begin I would recommend using the Neti Pot; I know it feels weird and for some it is very unpleasant, but it really helps clean out the nasal passages of excess mucus to help relieve the congestion associated with allergies. After using the Neti Pot for a couple of days you will start to notice the difference. You can buy a Neti Pot in almost every pharmacy, be sure to read the instructions carefully; and you can also make your own saline solution at home, after all, all you need is salt and water (Boil 8 oz. of water, then allow it to cool until just very warm, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and mix well until the salt dissolves.)
A 2010 scientific review published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy also confirms that “nasal irrigation with a saline solution is not only a safe and inexpensive way to improve a stuffy nose caused by allergies, but it also improves overall quality of life for the allergy sufferer and leads to less of a need for allergy medications.” You can read about the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904042/
2. Essential Oils
Next, essential oils are powerful. To help open nasal passages and make breathing easier, try diffusing peppermint and eucalyptus oils; 3 drops peppermint, 3 drops eucalyptus and 2 drops lemon (for its uplifting, refreshing properties) or 1 drop lavender (for its calming properties) make a very nice “breathe better” recipe. If your congestion is too severe, try rubbing peppermint or eucalyptus oil on the bottom of your feet, on your temples and your wrists (diluted with a carrier oil, like coconut oil) especially before going to bed.
3. Yoga + Pranayama
Last but not least, a regular yoga practice can go a long way during allergy season. Yoga is not a cure for allergies, but practicing poses regularly can help you find relief when allergies attack by decreasing the stress response and thus decreasing inflammation and mucus responsible for your congestion.
Especially helpful are poses that expand the chest and upper back, maximizing the lung capacity and decreasing the tension on the muscles of the chest and between ribs (intercostal muscles). In addition, breathing consciously with an emphasis on the exhalation can also be beneficial since calming the nervous system down relaxes the body and when you expand through the breathe through the belly, chest and upper back it creates more space for air to come in.
Try this: Sit on a blanket, on a bolster or on a mat; lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders down, away from your ears; soften your face, relax your jaw; relax your belly, the sides and the back of your ribcage and breathe softly through your nose; do not force your inhale, keep it soft and short if necessary, emphasizing the exhales: long, slow, soft; start by filling up your belly and from there allow the air to go up to your ribcage, chest. Softly stop once you feel your lungs are full of air, then when you slowly exhale release the air from the top of your lungs first and then feel the ribcage and belly contracting to let go of all the air. Do this 3-5 times and notice how your nasal passages and chest feel.