One of the most common problems this winter has been breathing freely.
Especially if you’re living in polluted North Indian cities like Delhi and Gurgaon.
Make no mistake, sinus inflammation can be triggered by cold weather as well and many people living in cold countries complain of the same during autumn months, when the seasons change.
Drier than usual air in winter months, causes the mucus linings of the nose to become dry which then causes the mucus to thicken. This quite often results in congestion and infection.
In the autumn season, there are a lot of irritants such as plant spores and seasonal pollen filling the air that often cause allergies and bronchial inflammation. Virus transmission in public places can be quite common and therefore people with a chronic problem of sinusitis and bronchitis often experience flare ups during this time.
However during winters, especially so in polluted cities in emerging economies such as those of the Indian sub continent, the triggers for people with chronic breathing problems can be really bad.
The dry cold air compounded by a lack of wind causes micro pollutants from vehicle emissions, exhausts, smoke and dust to just ‘sit’ at lower levels of the atmosphere posing a serious health risk.
While installing air filters is fast catching up as a preventive mechanism, it is impossible to avoid coming in contact with air all day long. At some point while commuting, exercising, shopping or socializing, one is bound to come in contact with pollutants. The use of air filters is still only catching on and is not as widespread or systemically integrated in the architecture of the cities.
Therefore, most people try to solve this problem using antibiotics and/or ‘humidifiers’. Sustained used of antibiotics is not something that is good for the body in the long run. Especially if natural methods can be used to prevent the condition of recurring in the first place.
In fact, one such technique is very common in the ancient science of ‘yoga‘ that is part of humanity’s millennia old science of natural healing and fitness.
‘Jala‘ meaning ‘Water’ and ‘Neti‘ meaning ‘To guide’.
This is an ancient art used frequently by ‘yogis‘ to keep their nasal passages clean; a very important prerequisite to practice ‘Pranayama‘ or breathing exercises.
How does it work?
It works by guiding lukewarm water (with a pinch of salt) through the sinuses, using a ‘neti pot’.
Refer the photos below for a better idea:
A woman performing ‘jala neti‘ using a ‘neti pot‘.
A common design of a ‘neti pot‘:
Actually it’s pretty easy and simple.
You tilt your head to one side and slowly pour water using the ‘Neti pot’ into one nostril and it just pours out from the other one, cleansing your sinuses!
Even so, we understand including a step by step instruction manual is customary. Here you go:
- Fill ‘Neti pot‘ with warm water. (Lukewarm, check beforehand)
- Add roughly a small pinch of salt to a single ‘Neti pot’ of water. Make sure it is properly dissolved.
- For best results make mixture of salt in lukewarm water beforehand. A ratio of half a teaspoon per 600ml of water is ideal.
- Place the ‘neti‘ cone of the pot into one nostril, (thereby sealing it to the nostril)
- Don’t apply undue pressure but gently push the cone into the nostril to ensure water flows directly inwards into the nostril.
- Don’t be scared. If you do it properly the entire process works seamlessly. If you panic however water will not go in and you will only end up wetting your short.
- The process is ‘simple’ but still requires attentiveness. Do not sniff, swallow, laugh, talk or engage your nose in any way during the process.
- Stay calm and stay attentive. Keep your mouth open and breathe gently through your mouth if you need to.
- Repeat the same thing from the other nostril.
- Before changing sides however, blow out gently through both nostrils to clear water and mucus from the nose.
- Don’t exert pressure. Just gentle blows are enough to ensure excess water or mucus is ejected.
- Make sure you do it in an alternating manner. One pot from one nostril and another from the other and so on until you feel your sinuses have cleared.
- It’s a good idea to make around 1 – 1.5 litre mixture of lukewarm water and salt in advance.
- Repeat the steps as above for 2/3 pots at the beginning of your day.
- This should ideally be done on an empty stomach before you start your day.
- You can do it once again in the evening before dinner.
- Make sure the water is sterilized i.e. water from a water purifier heated until is lukewarm or tap water that is boiled and then cooled to a lukewarm temperature.
- Make sure the water is not cold. This can have an adverse effect on the sinuses.
- The ‘Neti pot’ that you select must be of good quality with edges and tips that are completely smooth.
- The ‘Neti pot’ should also be sterilized before use. (Just wash it with warm water thoroughly)
- People who have a nasal infection should not do this.
- Let your infection subside first and then start this practice afterwards as a preventive measure.
- Do not share your ‘Neti pot’ with someone else.
- Always dry your nose gently with a tissue or soft cloth after completing the practice. The nasal passage shouldn’t be left wet.
We hope this simple ‘yogic’ exercise helps you breathe better. Subscribe to this blog for tons of content on Healing, Wellness, Spirituality and much more!
Until next time!
Photo credits: Woman practicing ‘neti’: artofliving.org, ‘Neti pot’: Indiamart.com