Alleviate Allergy Symptoms with Yoga

By Elaine Kelly

Ever feel like a pug trying to breathe?  In tandem with physician approved medical treatment, yoga can be a wonderful way to boost your endocrine system and reduce allergic reactions. 

In tandem with physician approved medical treatment, yoga can be a wonderful way to boost your endocrine system and reduce allergic reactions.
What’s Wrong with our Air?

One of my clients has been told by her doctor that the only way to alleviate her sinus symptoms is to move to a less dusty climate.  Sadly, desert environments are one of the worst places to live if you have dust allergies.  The World Health Organization rates many desert climates to have among the dirtiest air in the world with PM 10.0 and 2.5 particles being in the Red zone. 

Quick Relief with Yoga

My client who suffers from extreme dust allergy, sinus pain, light sensitivity, severe itch, headaches and watering eyes has noticed in under 50 minutes that severe symptoms are gone and/or significantly reduced. The scientific research appears to support her positive results stemming from her yoga sessions. Here are a few tried and tested yoga practices that I recommend you try under the guidance of an experience instructor.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: Anuloma Viloma

In a 2013 study published in Ayu, 40 people who practiced it for 40 days reported that symptoms of nasal drip, headache, itchy nostrils, sinus pressure and other symptoms improved by an average of 50-70 percent! The researchers attribute the improvement to increased oxygenation of the nasal tissue. Start by closing your right nostril and breathe in and out through the left 10 times. Then close the left nostril and breath in and out through the right 10 times. Notice as you do this which one is more open. If one is blocked, a very cool trick to open it up is to place a small rolled-up towel under the opposite armpit and squeeze it. Within a minute it will have cleared noticeably.  That being said, don’t ask me how this works but yogis have been doing this for centuries. 

Foot Rolling and Massage

When I arrive for a private session, I often get my clients to roll their feet while we do a brief check-in and assessment. There are so many points on the feet and toes that can help to relieve sinus symptoms and improve immunity as this article explains.

Jala Neti: Nose Washing

Ancient yogis understood that the nasal passages are the first line of defense against pollutants and other irritants Nasal passages and the importance of keeping them clear and clean. Jala Neti (nasal wash), is an effective way to flush out mucus and keep your passages clear and healthy. Modern neti pots are often plastic and look like a small teapot with a longer spout.  They ve been proven highly effective in preventing infection, soothing sinuses and reducing the likelihood of colds and infections. Whether you use a traditional neti pot or a squeeze bottle with saline from a pharmacy, the goal is to trickle non-ionized salt water solution into one nostril, have it circulate at the top of the nasal cavity, and run down the other nostril. Then reverse. It feels a little weird at first, but keep at it and you ll soon be a convert.

Kapalabhati: Skull cleansing breath

Another of yoga’s Shatkarmas or 5 actions, is extremely effective at clearing the nasal passages through forceful repetitive exhalations and passive inhalations.  First do Jala neti and then follow with 10 rounds of Kapalabhati.

Yoga Poses

Inversions, such as downward facing dog, Halasana (plow pose) and rabbit pose are a great way to bring pressure into the sinuses for a short time which will result in relief when you return to standing.  The also assist in draining nasal secretions, increasing blood flow to the head and improve overall circulation.

Enhanced Immunity

Yoga s biggest gift to the sinuses is balancing the body s immune response, which basically goes into fight or flight mode when allergy season comes around. So whatever poses you do, your yoga practice will help to reduce stress, improve the oxygenation of your blood and help clear nasal passages. It is important to remember that stress reduction can prevent further compromising immunity, based on modern research results.

What Else Can You Do?

Use a good quality air purifier in your home and bedroom with a HEPA filter to remove dust and other particles. This article highlights the best brands to consider. yoga is better avoided when the sinuses are in bloom because heat will just irritate the tissue.

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove dust and mites from your living space. My pick is the Dyson V7 cordless but check out other here.

Remove carpets and have wooden or tiled floors and keep the windows well sealed in summer to avoid excess dust.

Go for a swim in the sea, it’s excelling for cleaning the nasal passages and the magnesium and potassium and absorbed through your skin.

If you would like to learn more or for a private class, feel free to contact me at

Elaine Kelly founded Yogafest ME, the largest and only sustainable wellness event in the Middle East,  in 2010 when she became a certified yoga teacher while working for Microsoft.  With 30 years experience in the fitness industry, she wanted to support her fellow employees with their work life balance, and the idea for Yogafest was born.

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Posted on 05 February 2019 by Elaine Kelly