As we move into the cooler months most of us will pick up bugs and headcolds. The Hatha Yoga practice of Jala Neti or nasal irrigation can be used to alleviate allergy symptoms and keep the common cold at bay. It takes a bit of getting used to but it is well worth a go! You can purchase a ceramic neti pot which looks like a genie's lamp or you can pick up a plastic squeezy bottle version at your local pharmacy. These plastic versions are great when travelling and they usually come with a sachet of salt to prepare a saline solution.
The Neti pot is filled with luke warm water. A small pinch of Himalayan rock salt, which can be found in any health food store, is dissolved in the water. If using the pre-prepared version from the pharmacy please ensure to read the instructions carefully. The solution should be salty enough to aid cleansing but not so salty that it irritates the sinuses and makes your eyes water! It can be a case of trial and error until you find the right ratio of salt and water. Everyone's tolerance is a little different. It is better to have the water a little bit too warm than too cold. Mix well so that the salt is completely dissolved.
The spout of the neti pot is inserted into one nostril. By tilting your head slightly the saline solution enters the nostil, rinses the nasal cavities and flows out the other nostril. Repeat on both sides. Blow your nose when your are finished.
In the yogic tradition, Jala Neti is performed every morning as routinely as brushing your teeth. It seems very odd at first but when done regularly you will notice far less congestion especially during the winter months when we are all prone to a sniffle.