Wheezy, runny nose, itchy eyes, foggy head? That’s allergy symptoms at their finest. For Jana Webb, creator and CEO of Joga, an athletic-based style yoga studio located in the heart of Toronto, allergies only became an issue a couple of years ago. (Find out more on how you can develop allergies as an adult.)
Uncertain as to what was triggering them, she did what she normally does when faced with a challenge: a workout. The result? Along with taking a daily Reactine, she noticed that certain yoga poses were actually relieving her allergy symptoms. “From there, I began looking into and understanding various yoga positions from a scientific point of view, the impact allergies can have and how yoga could help,” says Webb. Being that “yoga brings the body and mind into a place of homeostasis, when battling allergies, this is what we’re striving to achieve.”
After deeming yoga a reliable tool for managing her allergy symptoms, Webb came up with a five-pose sequence. To learn her step-by-step guide for each posture, scroll down. This will be useful if you live in any of these Canadian cities, which are the worst for allergies.
Deep Belly and Chest Breathing
This posture serves two different purposes. “Belly breathing is used to activate the relaxation response that helps battle the stress of having allergies,” she says, “while chest breathing works on the breast mechanic to improve lung capacity.”
- Lie on back with knees bent.
- Bring right hand on lower belly, left hand on chest.
- Alternate breathing into belly and chest for counts of three.
- Combine belly and chest breath for full diaphragmatic breathing.
Moving Airplane Sequence
This posture increases circulation, which improves blood flow and helps eliminate allergens from the body more efficiently.
- Stand on one leg.
- Bend standing leg, raise opposite knee (bend as well) and then straighten.
- Repeat five times.
- Repeat on other leg.
Moving Seated Chair Twist
This posture helps detox your organs. When you have allergies, “the allergens actually live in the bloodstream, making your internal organs work harder,” she explains. “With detoxification, your organs can function more optimally, which in turn, improves how the allergens exit the bloodstream.”
- Bring feet, knees and legs together.
- Bend knees and bring thighs parallel to the ground, as if you’re sitting on an imaginary stool behind you.
- Bring hands to prayer position in front of your chest.
- Twist upper back from left to right, bringing your elbows to the outside of each thigh.
Humble Warrior Series
This posture is a major chest opener. Focused chest breathing helps open the intercostal muscles to support stronger lungs and heart, which is imperative for allergy sufferers.
- Bring stance into warrior position, with front knee slightly bent at 90 degrees. Keep back leg straight and foot turned outwards at a 45-degree angle.
- Interlace fingers behind lower back.
- Inhale and lift chest up.
- Exhale fold forward and bring front shoulder to the inside of front knee.
- Repeat five times.
Diamond Belly Breathing
This posture evokes the parasympathetic nervous system and is a great tool to help combat stress. But since stress, in general, can cause your body to not recover properly, “when you add allergies into the mix, the body tries to function in a state of constant stress,” she says. In turn, this affects your body’s ability to function properly.
- Lie on back.
- Fold feet together and let knees open to make a diamond shape with lower body.
- Place both hands on lower belly.
- Inhale and exhale for counts of five.
Keep in mind, these yoga postures are meant to be carried out in this exact order. “The idea is to activate the subsystems of the body in the most efficient way, to get the most effective results,” says Webb, adding the importance of executing the sequence in the a.m., as opposed to evening. “Doing so helps get all the subsystems of the body invigorated for the day ahead.”
Although Webb understands that some people may be on the fence with taking an holistic approach to relieve allergy symptoms, she stands by her pose-and breath-combo method. “I believe that our body is designed intelligently,” she says. “We just need to access it properly when we’re faced with symptoms that impact our optimal well-being.”
Next, learn which six cities in Canada are troublesome for allergy sufferers.