allergic to cold weather

by Himanshu Goyal
(jaipur india)

Hello sir,
I am allergic to cold weather, sudden climate changes. In these situation i have too much wet cough problem. Also whenever i come to contact with cold weather, i have cold in my nose and sneezing etc.
What yoga exercise should i do to get immunity from these problems.

Dear Himanshu,

There are two schools of thought for dealing with cold weather.

One states that you must cultivate warmth in your daily actions: eat warming foods, drink hot water, consume heating herbal remedies, attend steam rooms and sauna regularly, and keep yourself warm overall. The cold is seen as an external element that invades your body, and it's best to resist it by cultivating heat and warmth.

Ayurvedically speaking, your Vata is out of balance (cold constitution) and it disrupts Pitta (not enough inner fire) and causes too much Kapha (stagnation) in the form of mucus and cough.

The common recommendation to balance your constitution is to stoke the inner fire, Pitta. When Pitta burns strong, it burns off the stagnation balancing Kapha and reducing the cough and mucus. When Kapha is under control (no more cough), Vata will regain its balance also.

As mentioned, I recommend focusing on increasing Agni (digestive fire) and Pitta. I would recommend seeing a local Ayurvedic doctor for more specific food and herbal recommendations. In general, cooked foods (not raw) are preferred. Spicy and heating foods like peppers and ginger are very effective. Drinking ginger tea with lemon could be very helpful.

Another school of thought is to train your body to resist cold by exposing it to cold temperatures in a gentle and gradual way. This way, the body develops a natural resistance to cold from within.

In yoga, we call this practice Tapasya. Tapasya, as you may know, means "purification through self-discipline."

The best way to start this practice is by exposing yourself to cold water in the shower. Start a hot shower, and, after a few seconds, turn the water to manageably cool. You may notice that your breath will become labored. That's normal. Focus on relaxing the body and all the muscles, continue to breathe normally as the cooler water hits the skin and bathes the body. Start with 10-15 seconds at a time. Turn the water back to hot after that. Try practicing this for a week every day.

Then, begin to lower the water temperature to cooler and cooler. Take a whole week to adjust to each change. Also begin increasing the duration of cold water exposure, from 10 seconds build up to 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on.

After you are able to take a cool shower for a full minute, you will notice big differences in your cold tolerance. You may develop resistance to cold and your cold allergies may go away.

At this point, to progress even further, and if you have access to cooler temperatures outdoors, I recommend going outside wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. Sit on a blanket and focus on your internal heat centered in your navel and solar plexus.

Your internal organs maintain a very warm environment. It's possible to direct this internal heat out to the extremities with enough practice. It's also helpful to practice Kapalabhati (Breath of Fire) during this time, followed by Uddhyana Bandha. These practices release internal heat and make it easier to direct internal heat outward and to the skin.

As with the shower practice, this should be done very gradually. Begin with only sitting for 3-5 minutes, and work up to 30 minutes.

In general, it's best to practice these techniques with a qualified yoga teacher nearby.

You may choose to combine these two schools of thought: cultivate internal heat and stoke digestive fire and build Pitta on one hand; and gradually expose yourself to colder temperature in a controlled environment such as the shower on the other.

Good luck! And let me know how your practice develops,

~ Yogi Mir

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