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Yoga for Allergies or Seasonal Colds

by Julie PetersMay 14, 2015

Allergies are really common during the spring season as trees and flowers begin to bloom. Allergies are essentially an overreaction of your immune system to a substance that is normally harmless but that your body sees as a threat. This internal struggle (plus the antihistamines) can make you feel exhausted, like the last thing you want to do is move. Allergies often also behave really similarly to seasonal colds. Luckily, there are some yoga postures that can really help your body deal with mild allergic reactions or colds. Of course if the reaction or illness is severe, get medical attention right away!

Sphinx Pose with Neck Rolls

Your lymphatic system’s job is to drain away away toxins and waste from the hard work of your immune system, so sometimes your lymph nodes will swell up when you are not feeling well. Unlike the heart, which pumps the blood through your body, the lymphatic system depends on your physical movement to pump the toxins through. The lymph nodes are located mostly in the neck, armpits, belly, and groin because these areas are most likely to move in your everyday life.

For Sphinx Pose, lie on your belly. Prop yourself up on your elbows and widen the shoulders to get lots of space between the shoulder tips and the ear tips. Gently roll your neck in a circle, making sure to open the throat without crunching the back of the neck; the lymph nodes are on either side of the throat. Circle three times in one direction, then switch. 

Long Lunge

Step your right foot back behind you and lower your knee down. Inch the knee away so you are in a long lunge. Keep your front knee right over your ankle, but the back knee should be as far back from the hip as possible. Let the hips be heavy and lift the chest, supporting yourself on your fingertips or on blocks, accessing the lymph nodes in the groin. Breathe into the hips, perhaps swaying them a little from side to side. Explore straightening the back leg. After eight breaths, switch sides.

Standing Forward Bend

Seasonal allergies can also affect the sinuses: cavities behind the forehead and cheekbones that may get stuffed up. If the pressure is very strong, it’s not a good idea to invert, and your body will let you know about that. If it feels okay, the inversion will help move the fluid in your sinuses. Have a tissue handy!

Stand with your feet hips distance apart or wider. Fold from your hips with your knees as bent as you need so that your lower back feels safe. Let the spine hang down, perhaps holding opposite elbows, and give the head a gentle shake to relax the neck and allow the sinuses to shift. Hold for eight breaths.

Simple Side Bends

If you lungs feel congested, yoga poses that stretch the belly and the ribs out can give you more space to breathe. Sit cross legged on the floor, and outstretch your fingers to the earth beside you. Reach your right arm up and over to the left as you walk your left fingers away. Turn your chest slightly up towards the sky, focusing on breathing into the front of your right lung, then slightly down to breathe into the back. Explore here for about eight breaths, creating space in the lungs and opening the lymph nodes in the armpits, then switch sides.

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

Learn with Julie! 

Register for Julie's courses Stress Management Skills for Real Life: Practices for a Calmer Happier Life and Moon Goddess Meditations: A 16-night journey of desire, heartache and connection.

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