When searching for alternative remedies for allergies, there are several yoga breathing techniques for allergies that can help clear your airways and provide relief from symptoms. Below are step-by-step instructions for four suggested yoga breathing techniques for allergies.
Kapalabhatti, also known as “Skull-Shining Breath” is the most commonly recommended yoga breathing technique for allergies. Kapalabhatti is a series of short, sharp exhales through the nose, using the lower belly to help snap the air out. In order to prevent hyperventilation when doing this breathing exercise, it is important to focus on the exhale; a brief inhale will happen as a natural reflex. Keep the exhale quick and sharp, but do not exert too much force through the nostrils, as this can cause damage.
1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor or on a yoga block.
2. Bring both hands behind you and press just the fingertips into the floor to help lift and open your chest.
3. Inhale to about ¾ your regular lung capacity.
4. Using the low belly to snap the air out, begin to exhale in quick, sharp exhales.
5. Continue for approximately 50 short breaths, or until you feel the need to inhale.
6. Take a few deep breaths and then repeat the breathing exercise.
Suryabhedana is also known as “Right Nostril Breathing.” In this breathing exercise, you inhale only through the right nostril and exhale only through the left nostril. This is a yoga breathing technique that is especially recommended for those with a Kapha dosha imbalance, a condition that according to Ayurveda is associated with congestion and phlegm. Right Nostril Breathing can increase blood pressure and blood sugar, so avoid this yoga breathing technique if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or in a chair with both feet firmly on the ground.
2. Sit up tall, so the spine is straight and the chest is open.
3. Using the ring and middle fingers of the right hand, gently close the left nostril.
4. Inhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril for five counts.
5. Use the thumb of your right hand to gently close the right nostril.
6. Release your left nostril and gently exhale through your left nostril for five counts.
7. Close your left nostril, inhale through your right, and repeat.
8. Gradually begin to increase the length of your breath, keeping the inhale and exhale even.
Anuloma-Viloma, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is best used as a preventative measure to keep the airways clear and open before allergies strike, but it may also be used as a yoga breathing technique for allergies to help open up those congested passageways. Alternate Nostril Breathing is similar to Right Nostril Breathing, but you switch which side inhales with each breath.
1. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and the chest open.
2. Using the middle and ring fingers of the right hand, gently seal off the left nostril.
3. Inhale slowly through the right nostril for a count of five.
4. Gently close the right nostril with the thumb and release the left nostril.
5. Exhale through the left nostril for a count of five.
6. Gently inhale through the left nostril for a count of five.
7. Close the left nostril with the middle and ring fingers, release the right nostril.
8. Exhale through the right nostril for a count of five.
9. Inhale through the right nostril.
10. Repeat, alternating nostrils with each breath. Gradually begin to lengthen your breath, making the inhales and exhale equal.
Ujjayi, also called “Ocean Breathing” may be done in any position. It is the best known yoga breathing technique because it is used in conjunction with asana (poses) in many yoga classes. In the book “Light on Yoga,” sometimes nicknamed the Bible of Yoga, BKS Iyengar claims that one of the many benefits of Ujjayi breathing is the removal of phlegm, making it one of the viable alternative remedies for allergies.
1. Sit in a comfortable position, with a tall spine, or lie comfortably on your back.
2. Inhale slowly through the nose, letting the belly expand.
3. Constrict the back of the throat to create a light snoring sound.
4. Exhale slowly with the same throat constriction, deflating the belly last.
5. After a short pause at the end of the exhale, repeat.
In addition to yoga breathing techniques for allergies, some people find that back bending and heart opening yoga postures, such as wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana), fish (Matsyasana), camel (Ustrasana) or cobra (Bhujangasana), help to open airways and relieve congestion from allergies. Other people may find that inversions, such as shoulder stand (Sarvangasana), headstand (Shirshasana) or handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), help relieve allergy symptoms, but inversions may also aggravate your discomfort, so always listen to your own body when deciding which yoga poses and yoga breathing techniques are helpful alternative remedies for allergies.
Light On Yoga; BKS Iyengar; 1966
Yoga Journal; Breathe Easy; Alice Lesch Kelly
Yoga Wiz; Yoga For Allergies
Yoga Wiz; Right Nostril Breathing