Yogamama: Allergy Relief
Simple, pill-free ways to calm your irritated sinuses and watering eyes
By Karri Jinkins
Since the start of allergy season this year I’ve woken up many mornings feeling overwhelmed by a swirling head, stuffy nose, and fits of sneezing. Back in the day, I would solve the problem by doing a juice cleanse, or flying off to Thailand or India for a deep-cleansing retreat like pancha karma. Ah, the carefree life! Not surprisingly, however, in the three years since my son was born I’ve had less freedom to travel — and no longer find the idea of purifying juice cleanses particularly inspiring; I’ll still have to cook for my little boy and there really is no escaping that. Not to mention that I’ve actually come to enjoy the kitchen and often find great solace there away from the stresses of the daily grind, in a place where I can meditate as well as create nutritious meals for my family.
So I’ve been experimenting with a few different tools that I can easily use at home to help relieve some of my allergy symptoms. I’ve been doing a couple with my son, too, and they seem to help with his own little sniffles.
1. YOGA AND SWEATING
On the days I feel most overwhelmed, I find that a good old sweat helps clear some of the buildup of phlegm and congestion. Poses such as backbend, camel, shoulder stand, and headstand seem especially helpful, perhaps because they help open the chest and loosen congestion in the head.
2. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING (NADI SHODHANA)
I inhale through the left and exhale through the right nostril five times, then reverse it for another five times, inhaling from the right and exhaling from the left. This has been a big help in removing dust and allergens from my air passages, as well as facilitating mental clarity and focus.
3. NETI POT
I add a touch of sea salt to clean lukewarm water and it clears my sinuses (my three-year-old likes to pour the water in himself).
4. COCONUT OIL
Massaging the nasal passages with this after using the neti pot helps lubricate them when I feel dried out. It smells great, and my son loves it, too.
5. DRY BRUSHING
I found a beautiful brush at Brook Farm and use it some mornings before I take a shower; dry brushing helps flush the lymphatic system and stimulate the nervous system. My acupuncturist, Adele Reising, is a big fan.
I’m also compiling a book full of my family’s favorite recipes and juices that I will happily hand over to a personal chef, should I ever find myself with one, but until then…