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Yoga could be natural remedy for allergy sufferers

Poses that stretch the chest and neck are most effective in relieving allergy symptoms.

The next time an individual's allergies flare up, he or she may want to visit a yoga instructor instead of a doctor or pharmacist. Some medical professionals and yoga practitioners have found that regular yoga exercises can help alleviate allergy symptoms.

An estimated one in every five Americans suffer from allergy or asthma symptoms, which include coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion and throat irritation. Negative reactions to allergens worsen when an individual experiences stress because the body responds by releasing inflammation-inducing hormones and histamine. Therefore, any activity that diminishes a person's stress can also quell allergy symptoms.

"Doing something that lets you unwind, like yoga, can help quiet your body's fight-or-flight response, in turn quieting allergies," California yoga instructor Dr. Baxter Bell told Prevention Magazine.

In addition to reducing stress and diminishing allergy symptoms, yoga has also been shown to improve physical fitness, manage long-term health problems and contribute to weight loss. It is also most often practiced indoors, so allergy sufferers will be able to avoid allergens that may be present outside. Experts recommend practicing yoga several times each week, preferably as part of a regular schedule.

Allergy sufferers who practice yoga should put an emphasis on poses that stretch the neck and chest, along with those that elevate the head, because they open up the nasal passages. Conversely, they should avoid poses that lower the head, as they can place pressure on the nasal passages, worsening symptoms. However, they may not want to attend a Bikram yoga class, as the sweltering environment could worsen their symptoms.

If yoga alone does not ease symptoms, allergy sufferers can couple yoga exercises with more traditional treatment options, such as over-the-counter medications and nasal irrigation systems. 

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