Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Neti, my nostrils thank thee

Today, on the way to voting (NY Primary Day), I stopped at Whole Foods for a new buncha coconuts, and I got a lovely bunch too. I also got a "neti pot", my first ever. I have been feeling kind of blech today, couldn't get to the shala for the past two days because of kid-related obligations that fell during the morning hours, ended up taking yesterday as a "personal moon day" rather than waiting until Wednesday, blah, blah, blah, lots of excuses and excessive sensitivities that pretty much add up to nothing more than a not-so-subtle structure of attachments and aversions, blah blah blah...I needed a pick-me-up. Plus, seriously, I had a weird taste in my mouth, which tells me I might be catching a cold.

And so, I took home my brand new, pretty little neti pot, and got right down to business. I was skeptical, but excited to try it after hearing about it over the years. I didn't think it possible that I could flow water from one nostril by feeding it into the other nostril. And yet....it worked. It worked beautifully.

I am already a big believer in the benefits of salt water. There's a simple scientific principle called "osmosis" that holds that if you bathe cells in salt water, the cells will, in turn, expel water in an attempt to bring their own salt to water ratio into balance with the salt to water ratio existing outside themselves. (The old saying, "water seeks its own level" applies to salt as well.) Thus, if you flood your intestines with salt water, your intestines will react by pulling as much water from your body as possible in order to bring the salt-to-water ratio within its cells back to balance. The watery bowels must go somewhere; hence, the laxative effect. This is why salt water is used in Western as well as Eastern colon cleansing practices.

Salt water baths relieve aches and pains in the body in the same way. They cause the cells of the skin and the tissue that lies just below to expell water, which reduces inflammation. Love my epsom salt baths. And who doesn't love to swim in the ocean?

So, neti should work the same way. Not only does mechanical action of the water flowing through the nostrils help to clear mucuos, but also the osmotic reaction of the nasal walls react by expelling fluids, thus shrinking in the process, thus making the breathing passages wider.

I know I feel good now.

Now, to practice. Because in the battle between me and my obnoxiously loud mind, which is spinning lots of excuses for not practicing and lots of ways to delay practicing, the only one who loses is me.



Ursula said...

From time to time I clean my tongue with a spoon, but I will never clean my nose the way I can see on the picture. This is hardcore cleaning. No, I don't need it. I prefer pranayama techniques. They help to clean the nose, too.

Carl said...

If we breathe through our noses instead of our mouths, like we're supposed to, then apparently some stuff must accumulate in there. But if you take steamy showers then the stuff should loosen on its own. All you have to do is cup some water in your hands and BLOW and it all blasts out and swirls down the drain. No equipment to buy!

DebPC said...

The Colorado climate is really dry and people from garden variety quacks to naturopaths regular MDs recommend nasal irrigation, as neti-potting can be called. Personally, I do it about 2-3 times a week. They say it cleans out viruses before they can latch on. I don't want to jinx myself but... so far so good. And I don't have an official neti pot. In fact, I use a bottle with a kind of nozzle on top which lets me spray the water up into the nostril with a bit of force. Such fun!

Yoga Chickie said...

The nice thing about the neti pot is that it is so gentle - no forceful water up the nose. It just smoothly goes in one nostril and out the other without that "I just got juice up my nose" feeling. It cost fifteen bucks. It was so worth it.

CGo said...

I'm with Carl on the blow-your-nose-in-the-shower!

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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