Handling hay fever

It’s been a particularly bad couple of weeks for hay fever sufferers (of which I am one). It’s all down to the late (non-existent!) Spring and everything coming into bloom all at once apparently. So we’re being bombarded with grass, flower and tree pollen all in one go, when normally this would be staggered over a period of time.

I know I’m not alone with my hay fever misery, as classes at the moment are full of sneezes and snuffles, so I would like to share with you how I keep my hay fever at bay the natural way.

My diet plays a big part in my hay fever management. Wheat, sugar, caffeine and dairy all make me generally more irritable (both physically and mentally!). A few days of a “clean” diet has a hugely positive impact on my allergic state.  I’ve also noticed that stress increases my intolerance to allergens. Stress puts us into a “fight or flight” mode and one of the effects of adrenaline is to make us more sensitive, so it makes sense to de-stress with plenty of relaxations, meditation and cooling pranayama techniques.

There are lots of yoga postures that you can do to help you manage hay fever too. Focus on calming, restorative asanas and sequences that take heat out of the body, open the heart centre and reduce inflammation. Here are some ideas (please check with a qualified yoga instructor for any contra-indications, prior to embarking on a home practice):

Clear the sinus passages with Fig Tree, Lion and the Chest Expansion.

Keep calm and cool using sitting and standing forward bends and the moon sequence.

Open the heart centre to reduce irritation. Try strong backward bending poses, particularly Bridge, Fish and Camel. Also work with Chair of the Heart and Dru’s beautiful Seat of Compassion sequence.

Stay away from inverted poses such as Should Stand, Plough and Dog and the Sun Sequences. In yoga terms these are all heating practices.

My final piece of advice is to give jala neti (salt water nasal wash) a try. I am a huge fan of this ancient yogic cleansing technique. I use it in the winter to flush out cold germs and in the spring and summer to keep my sinus’ free from pollen, particularly useful when I’ve been out with the dogs. Here’s what you do:

  • Dissolve a flat teaspoon of salt into a jug with 500 ml of tepid water
  • Pour 250 ml into a neti pot (like a little teapot with a long spout, you can buy them on the internet, at yoga places and I’ve even seen them in chemists)
  • Hanging over the basin, turn your head on 1 side and pour the 250 ml of salt water into the uppermost nostril. It should just flow through (you can feel it but it’s not unpleasant) and pour out of the other nostril into the basin. If you have your head tilted down and to the side I promise it will not go down the back of your throat.
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Dry the nostrils by gently blowing the nose. You might need to do this looking forward, then with your head tilted to each side and then bending forwards, to make sure all the water is out 🙂

It really does work, and along with my yoga, I manage to stay largely hay fever free all summer, and I don’t need to take any medication.

Hope these ideas help and do share with us your natural hay fever cures too. Ix

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