Bronchial asthma is a common disease of both children and adults. The word “Asthma” is of Greek derivation and it means panting or gasping. Not all difficulty in breathing is asthma. The prefix bronchial to refer to the fact that the basic problem is in the bronchi, the lower air conducts within the lungs.
Bronchial asthma is characterized by recurrent attacks of difficulty in exhalation due to wide – spread reversible narrowing of airways in the lungs, which varies in severity over a short period of time either spontaneously or as a result of treatment.
The characteristic feature of asthma is that it is only a temporary functional narrowing which is completely reversible.
The most important feature in bronchial asthma is the hyper reactivity of bronchial tree. The air passages show excessive response by spasm and inflammation to all sorts of stimuli, not only to antigen or chemical like histamine but also to cold air, atmospheric irritants like dust, kitchen fumes, sprays, gases, extreme exercise etc.,
Hay fever and allergic rhinitis are the other names for nasal allergies. The three cardinal symptoms of this condition are sneezing, running nose and blocked or stuffy nose. This may occur seasonally as in Hay fever or personality almost all year round. You may also have itching of nose, ears, eyes, throat and post nasal discharge. At times, the inner lining (mucous membrane) of the Para nasal sinuses may get involved in this allergic inflammation leading to pain and discomfort in the forehead and cheeks. Although not a fatal condition, it could lead to much discomfort, loss of interest at work and psychological depression.
Exposure to cold wind, sunlight, dust and fumes, etc., may precipitate the onset of the symptoms. Exactly like in bronchial asthma the inner lining of the nose has turned hyper – reactive.
Persons with Nasal Allergy (NA) also have similar nasal complaints such as irritation, sneezing, running nose and blockage.
What is the difference?
Nasal Allergy is not associated with fever, body aches etc. as in common cold and hence, it may not disturb your daily routine. It is usually seasonal; trouble you early mornings and late evenings; there are usually recognizable triggers like weather, cold air, dust, smoke, pollen etc.,
What causes Nasal Allergy?
Unlike common flu, this is not caused by any infection, although it appears that the problem is caused by outside agents like dust, pollen etc., this as an ‘allergic reaction’. Allergy means altered reaction, i.e., this is not a normal reaction of the body. Normal persons nose does not consider cold air or dust or parthenium as dangerous and have no irritation. If you are allergic, your nasal lining sends messages to the brain and the immune system that there is a dangerous foreigner that is being inhaled and thus the array of soldiers (white blood cells etc.,) are recruited to fight (inflammation) away the enemy in the nose leading to all the symptoms – sneezing – protective mechanism to blast away the enemy, running nose – to wash off the enemy, and blockage – to prevent entry of the enemy.
Why does the body do this wrong sensing? What is its cause? Is it related to stress?
Yes, stress is a well-known trigger that activates the basic allergic tendency, which is inherited. This tendency for over sensitivity may be found in some of your family members in the form of allergy to some foods or skin allergy etc., and stress acts as a trigger to unfold this tendency and makes you suffer from nasal symptoms. For example, a cousin of mine gets bad periods of early morning sneezing and nose blocking in in winters whenever he goes through patches of financial problems in his business.
What is the yogic remedy?
According to Yoga, Nasal Allergy is considered as a manifestation of a minor imbalance in Prana and hence we get very quick results in persons who undertake the practice or Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy. Regular practice of a basic set of breathing exercises (Tiger breathing, rabbit breathing, sasankasana breathing), loosening exercises (jogging, twisting), suryanamaskara, yogasanas (12 postures in standing, sitting, prone and supine positions), pranayama, meditation (on “OM”) along with the lifestyle change through Jnana, Karma and Bhakti yoga are to be learnt to overcome the problem of Nasal Allergy. Kriyas form a mainstay in the yogic management of Nasal Allergy. Jalaneti involves yogic nasal wash by saline water. (Described in an earlier article in this series). This is a training that helps in self-retraining your over-reactive lining of the nose. When you do jalaneti voluntarily, you are accepting to teach your nose to tolerate the irritant (the saline water) and through this you are teaching your nose to tolerate even the other substances such as dust or pollen or cold air, which your body had unnecessarily presumed as dangerous substances. Can you see how this could be related to your personality? Are you a sensitive person at the emotional level and have difficulty in expressing it? Psychologists say that if you cannot express your feelings of frustration, anxiety or anger it shows up as Nasal Allergy. So IAYT teaches you how to overcome your emotional sensitivity. Thus yoga is the real way to cure your Nasal Allergy, as it teaches you how to correct the imbalances “yourself” to cure your body.
Pada means the foot. Angustha is the big toes. This posture is done by standing and catching the big toes.
1. Stand in Tadasana. Spread the legs a foot apart.
2. Exhale, bend forward and hold the big toes between the thumbs and the first two fingers, so that the palms face each other. Hold them tight.
3. Keep the head up, stretch the diaphragm towards the chest and make the back as concave as possible. Instead of stretching down from the shoulders, bend forward from the pelvic
4. Keep the legs stiff and do not slacken the grip at the knees and toes. Stretch the shoulder-blades also. Take one or two breaths in this position.
5. Now exhale, and bring the head in between the knees by tightening the knees and pulling the toes without lifting them off the floor. Remain in this pose for about 20 seconds, maintaining normal breathing.
6. Inhale, raise the head, release to toes and stand up. Return to Tadasana.