Cold season is approaching so we thought it was a good time to share some of our little tips on what to do to keep the colds from bringing us down! All these suggestions are best done right at the outset of a cold.
Cleansing the nasal passage with salted lukewarm water:
In yoga this is called ‘jala neti’ and it is best done with a neti pot however, over the years I’ve heard of people using many other vessels, such as a kids toy teapot or a little dish.
You dissolve about a teaspoon of salt (I adjust the amount of salt depending on if my nose is very clogged or just needing a little cleaning) in the neti pot filled with lukewarm water. These neti pots are the best as the design somehow makes the water flow smoothly. We have some at the yoga shala.
Then you tip your head to the side and a tiny bit forward, place the spout of the pot in the upper nostril and start to pour the water so it goes into the upper nostril and out the lower one. If it is going down the throat you need to tip the head a bit more forward. Do both nostrils. If it feels like it is burning then you probably put too much salt or it didn’t dissolve well enough. Otherwise the only side effect I’ve experienced is that later when I bend forward some left over water will come out….I have to be careful of that when teaching :-) . Click on the photo to see a video of Gerald explaining the technique.
Nigari or what the kids call “salty medicine”. Nigari is what is used to solidify tofu; it is magnesium chloride. It tastes horrible but if you are congested it works like magic! I usually put about a teaspoon of it in a small amount of hot water, let it dissolve and cool and then drink it in one gulp. Really you don’t want it to be too much water because it is just too hard to swallow since it tastes SO bad; although our kids seem to enjoy sipping it and making nasty faces.
The only thing is if you are advised not to eat salt for any health reasons then you should not take Nigari either. Depending on when I start it, if it’s at the very beginning of a cold then I take it 2 or 3 times a day for 1 – 3 days and the congestion is gone.
For a sore throat the best we have found to sooth it is Thyme tea. Made from fresh thyme or sticks of dried thyme is most effective but I have some Thyme tea bags that are quite nice as well, even if not as strong.
Restorative Yoga! I absolutely love doing a restorative practice when I’m feeling heavy or tired. It’s relaxing, invigorates the body while relaxing it and calms the nervous system and mind.
Click on the photo to see a basic restorative practice.
Although at times a vigorous practice can feel great to get the body moving, the energy circulating, the ujjayī to clean out the nasal passages and the sweat to remove the toxins.
When not to continue your dynamic practice: if you have a fever, if you feel very heavy and tired even after 20 minutes or so into your practice or if you are sleep deprived. If you are deciding that it is ok to practice then notice if the practice is making a headache worse or bringing on a headache when you didn’t have one. And if he cold is in the sinus’ then don’t bring your head lower than your waist.
Good luck and let’s all try to stay healthy this cold season!