The Green Film of Pollen (and how yoga can help)

With the spell of hot, sunny weather, the tree pollen has arrived.  Everything is covered in a haze of green.  It is beautiful in its own way.  Even if one is not particularly allergic, though, the sheer density of the pollen, coupled with the degraded air quality from car emissions and other city pollution without any cleansing rains, can make it hard to breathe easily.  You may have noticed that you are feeling especially sluggish.  I do not have significant seasonal allergies, but when there is this much pollen, we are all breathing in a lot of particulate matter, and I notice I am fatigued for no apparent reason.  That by itself is a challenge.

What can you do to feel better?  Listen to your body.  You may feel a need, after our long, snowy winter, to get out and run and play, but take it a little slowly.  Drink lots of water, juice, and herbal tea to flush out your system.  Use a neti pot to clear the pollen out of your sinuses so that it doesn’t stay there bothering them.

Do cleansing practices.  Kapalabhati can be especially effective.  Make sure to use ujayi breathing while doing your poses.  I find that the action of channeling the breath with ujayi makes it much easier to breathe through the nose.  Incorporate some extra twists into your practice for their cleansing action.  Instead of giving up your practice because of allergy symptoms and fatigue and choosing to just lie around, make the effort to set up some restorative poses.  I find supported twists for the cleansing effect and supported backbends, which expand the area of the heart and lungs, making it easier to breathe, feel especially good.

It may be hard, but instead of looking at the green film and your dirty tissues, notice the beauty burgeoning around you.  The flowering and leafing trees, the greening grass, the proliferation of flowering bulbs and bushes are extraordinary.  Where we put our attention is what we feel and experience the most.

ps Using cloth handkerchiefs and napkins instead of paper and just throwing them in with your other laundry, will make breathing easier in the long run if enough of us do it.  Fewer trees killed.  Less pollution.  Better air.


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