Allergy season is in full throttle here in Austin, and we are all dealing with sneezing, coughing, snot and postnasal drip. It’s the price we pay for living in an amazing city full of trees and greenery. Thankfully, there’s this little thing called the neti pot that works wonders and is an essential part of ayurvedic medicine (aka ayurveda). Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical system that is also a nice complement to yoga.
“The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness.” – Source: nih.gov
If you haven’t tried a neti pot before, you’re in for a treat! You can get a little “starter kit” at your local Walgreens that comes with a plastic neti pot and pre-measured salt packets. Fill the neti pot with warm water and one packet of the salt mixture, then stir. If you’re worried about brain parasites (most modern cities with treated tap water are safe), use some distilled water in a microwaveable mug and heat it for a minute. For comfort, I’d go with warmer water to match your body temp than too cold.
Position yourself over a sink and place the spout against one nostril. Tilt your head the other direction, BREATHE THROUGH YOUR MOUTH and let gravity do its thing. It’ll feel really weird at first to have water flowing through your sinuses, but when you see how much junk gets pulled out of your head, you’ll feel and breathe so much better. Gently blow your nose on both sides, and then repeat the neti pot on the other side. When you’re done irrigating, take a forward fold and give some quick exhales out your nose. A few more drips should come out.
Not only does using a neti pot help clear out mucous, it also helps keep your sinuses moist to prevent allergens from “sticking” to the wall lining.
The first time I used a neti pot, I had no idea how much mucous was hiding up there. And bonus, if you neti pot while taking a hot steamy shower, you get all the extra benefits of a steam treatment.
I keep my dinky plastic starter neti pot in my suitcase to take with me any time I travel. It’s come in handy in cold dry climates that irritate my sinuses as well as pollen-saturated destinations that attack my system.
Now, if you’re so congested that literally nothing is coming out – not even a drop – put the neti pot down. There’s no point in getting excess moisture trapped and giving yourself a sinus infection. But if you can get stuff to move, I’d suggest using it in the morning to unclog everything that’s settled overnight and again in the evening to flush out everything you’ve breathed in during the day. Your sinuses will certainly thank you for it.