Yoga Poses for Seasonal Allergies

The pollen vortex has sucked me in, swirled me around, and tossed me back and forth a few times for good measure before spitting me out again. In short, seasonal allergies have made me their b*tch. Itchy eyes, snotty nose, swollen sinuses, coughs, sniffles, wheezes… there is no Neti pot, herbal tea, bee pollen, local honey, or over the counter allergy med on this beautifully blooming earth that can save me.

Thus, I find myself turning my focus towards yoga. Again. Here are some asanas, or poses, that can help to relieve some seasonal allergy symptoms. Good luck!

alternate nostril breathing yoga pranyama

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) – This breathing technique helps calm the mind, enhance rest and relaxation, and support the circulatory and respiratory systems.

Begin in a comfortable seated position. Place the left hand to your left knee, palm facing upward. Bring the right pointer finger and middle finger to the space between your eyebrows, also known as your “third eye.” Seal your lips, inhale and exhale through your nose. Close the right nostril with your thumb, and inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril using your ring finger (both nostrils are now sealed), pause for a moment, and lift the thumb exhaling through the right nostril. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath.

seated side stretch yoga

Seated Side Stretch – This stretch gently releases the intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) which can become overworked and exhausted due to wheezing and coughing. Their primary job is to help expand and shrink the size of your chest cavity as you breathe.

Begin seated in either Sukhasana (easy pose, aka: criss-cross applesauce) or Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose, aka: sitting on your feet). Reach arms overhead on your inhale. Exhale, fold to the right, bringing your right fingertips to the floor. Keep the sitz bones grounded, avoiding letting the left hip lift. Stay here for five breaths. Repeat to the left.

cow pose yoga

Cow Pose (Bitilasana) – Stretches the front side of the body and abdominal muscles, which can get tight and sore with constant coughing.

Start on hands and knees with a flat back or in “tabletop” position. Hands should be beneath the shoulders and knees hip-width distance apart. As you inhale, lift your heart and tailbone towards the sky, allowing your belly to drop towards the floor. Exhale, returning to a neutral spine. Repeat 10 times.

shoulderstand yoga

Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) – Helps to improve drainage and open nasal passages. Hold for one minute or less to avoid creating sinus pressure.

Lay on your back with arms alongside your torso, palms down. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor about hip-width distance apart (approximately two fists between your feet). Press your shoulders and palms into the floor, while hugging the knees into your chest (feet will no longer remain on the ground). As your tailbone and pelvis begin to lift from the mat, bend your elbows and bring your hands to the back of your torso (try to keep the elbows drawing towards one another, and in line with the shoulders. Raise your pelvis so that it is directly over the shoulders and the torso is perpendicular to the floor. Begin to straighten the legs, extending your heels towards the ceiling. Flex your toes towards your shins and squeeze legs together. To avoid pressure on the cervical spine, push your shoulders into the floor so that the back of your neck floats away from the floor. Gaze towards the chest, making sure not to turn the head to either side. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

halasana plow pose

Plow Pose (Halasana) – Releases muscles in the back of the neck and base of the skull, which helps to loosen and clear drainage.

From Sarvangasana, bend at the hips and allow your feet to move towards the ground overhead. You can continue to press hands into the back of your torso, or you can release your hands from the back and stretch the arms out behind you on the floor, palms down. Another option is to interlace your fingers behind your back and press your first into the floor. Stay here 5-10 breaths. When you’re ready to move out of the pose, bring hands to your back and lift back into Svarganasana. Lower on to your back, slowly and with control, one vertebra at a time.

fish pose

Fish Pose (Matsyasana) – Opens the chest and neck, while stimulating the thymus gland. The thymus gland is located behind the sternum and between your lungs, and produces T cells which contribute to the body’s immune system.

Begin seated with knees bent and feet planted about hip-width distance apart. Keeping the legs where they are, move to a reclined position with your elbows beneath your shoulders and hands reaching towards your feet (forearms should be parallel and hugged closely in towards your body. On an inhale, press into the palms and begin to lift your ribcage towards the sky. You can look towards the ceiling, and if it isn’t uncomfortable for your neck, begin to drop the crown of the head towards the floor. Eventually your head might actually rest on the ground. This pose is traditionally done with the legs in Padmasana (Lotus Pose), but for most people it’s most comfortable with the knees bent, or legs straight and toes flexed towards the shins. Stay here for five breaths. On your last exhale, lower your torso and head to the ground and hug your knees into your chest.


How to Create a Kick Asana Playlist

Designing a playlist is very similar to pairing wine with a gourmet meal – you want the music to compliment your yoga sequences. Music, like yoga, sets the mood. It is therapeutic, affects our mindset, and elicits a myriad of emotions. Music makes us feel. Combining music and asana practice can have a very powerful effect if done well.

Songs should match the energy level of the class. Have you ever gone to a candlelit restorative class set to disco or heavy metal? No, because that’s about as chill and relaxing as jumping into an ice bath.

Slow moving yoga like Yin, deep stretch, or classes for beginners pair well with more ambient background tunes – think Euro Lounge or Americana. Save the more upbeat genres like pop, hip hop, and electro for Power Yoga, Vinyasa, and other yoga classes designed to get your blood pumping.

Know your audience. Seniors in your Gentle Yoga class do not want to hear the new Taylor Swift. The class you lead at the church does not want to yoga to gangster rap.

On the other hand, those 20 and 30-somethings on their mats first thing Saturday morning are ready to sweat out last night’s cocktails. They will probably be willing to overlook a few questionable lyrics if the beat can help them groove through six sets of abdominals. Honestly, they probably won’t even notice questionable lyrics over the sound of their abs screaming. I, personally, am a huge fan of giving an especially loud cue when I know profanity is coming up.

How to build your playlist.

  • Push play and go! Match the length of your playlist to the length of your class. Teaching is way more fun when you can focus on your students, your sequence, your cues, and not have to mess with your phone.
  • Stick to one or similar musical genres. As much as I love both The Weeknd and Black Sabbath, it is difficult (if not impossible) to place them on the same playlist in a cohesive way.
  • If you like to begin class by verbally guiding students through pranayama or other exercises to help set the class tone, consider instrumental music. For most of us, it’s easier to focus on one voice at a time.
  • As a general rule, there should be a direct correlation between yogi heart rate and musical BPMs (beats per minute). As breath flows and movement builds throughout the asana practice, so should the tempo. As cool down begins, the music should slow as well.
  • Abdominal exercises are best approached like running – people need super upbeat music to help power through.
  • Choose a calming song for savasana. Instrumental music is great because there are no lyrics for wandering minds to attach to. If there are lyrics, make sure they are either positive or neutral. Yoga practices often leaves us feeling raw, vulnerable, and emotional. If you can avoid making the mid-breakup yogini burst into tears during her time for meditation because the song just happens to be about love in some abstract way, do it.

Where to find music. Friends, family, your own personal stash of musical favorites. Take requests, ask for suggestions. Pandora, iTunes Genius, Spotify playlists and radio. I draw from a playlist comprised of songs I hear in passing that I think might be good for yoga class. Mix and match songs that you love with the tolerable songs from the radio that your students will love.

In the end, make sure you’re playing music that moves you. When you’re feeling inspired, that energy will leak into your teaching and into the hearts of those whose practice you guide. Plus, you’re the one hearing the same playlist over and over. Life’s too short for mediocre jams.



The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. -Elie Wiesel

I’m a passionate person. I get stupidly excited by ballet, music, yoga, books, boys, bubbles, smiles from strangers, puppies, pretty photos, flowers, quality time with friends, breakfast tacos – and a thousand other things in between. Things that excite me illicit an actual emotional response. Oh, man…. and I am one of those people who experiences emotion acutely. There are times that I worry that my heart literally explode in my chest with sadness… or joy.

I spent a large portion of my 20’s wishing I didn’t feel things so intensely. Wishing things didn’t affect me, and thanks to an emotionally stunted boyfriend (he’s an amazing man, and we’re still friends), thinking I was crazy. Many moons later, I look around and notice so many individuals wandering aimlessly. Searching. Unhappy. Because they’re bored. There’s nothing they’re excited about. Nothing that makes a stomach drop or a heart flutter before skipping a beat. And while being passionate can sometimes be overwhelming and exhausting, I can’t imagine anything worse than being indifferent.


Hiking in Bogotá

Bogtoá is nestled in a valley, which makes weekday morning hikes accessible to city residents. We hiked one of my brother’s favorite trails on a Monday morning. Since it was a work day, we only passed one other person on the trail.

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The hike was a tad steep in some places, and the altitude definitely made it a challenge. I like to think I’m in fairly good shape, but this was a humbling experience. My (exceptionally patient) brother and I somehow we managed to make it to the top.

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After a few false starts (i.e. we got lost), we made it down the mountain in record time. Unfortunately, record time was exactly 6 minutes after the trail closed. Thus, yours truly has officially jumped a 10 foot barbed wire fence. How’s that for a city girl?

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