During allergy season, I went to my doctor. My ears and nose were blocked up, causing serious vertigo issues. He recommended neti. I gave him the evil eye. “What about the people that died from the brain eating amoeba using neti?”, I asked. He returned with, “Have you ever accidentally inhaled water in the shower? Have you died?” I have and I haven’t. Just the same, I only use distilled or boiled and cooled water for neti.
Despite several recommendations to use neti for sinus trouble, I still loath it! Using the neti pot feels like drowning. Why would anyone want to pour salt water in one nostril and let it run out the other?! I dubbed it self-waterboarding. Being a person with chronic ear aches and swimmer’s ear, I found the water left hanging around in my head to be extremely troublesome and frankly, it made me cranky.
Using the NeilMed Sinugator, a cordless gadget that allows you to hold your head upright as you shoot the salt water up your nose, helps some. I get less water stuck behind my ears; but hours later, I still find myself leaning over to pick something up and salt water flying out my nose.
Besides the Sinugator allowing me to hold my head upright, a few other things made my daily neti routine more enjoyable:
- Do it early in the morning to allow time for the water to drain. You don’t want to do it right before bed, because the water will sit in your passages and get behind your ears. Talk about waking up cranky!
- Relax. Breathe through your mouth. Did I mention relax?
- Blow your nose after each nostril. DO NOT pinch your nostrils closed. Just blow, otherwise you’ll force the water behind your ears.
- Practice Warrior III, downward dog, forward folds, scrub the floor … whatever gets your head in a different position to drain the water.
- Carry tissues for several hours after.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
As I continue to practice neti, I’m finding my nasal passages are draining better, which also helps the ears. I also took up practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan pranayama). No wonder the water was having trouble passing through my nostrils in the beginning, both nostrils are only taking in about 50% their capacity.
To do Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- Start by breathing relaxed and normally.
- Close the left nostril. Inhale through the open right nostril.
- Close the right nostril. Exhale through the open left nostril.
- Inhale through the open left nostril.
- Close the left nostril. Exhale through the open right nostril.
I’ve also observed my body’s reaction to different foods. My nose is more blocked and my body is more bloated whenever I have dairy. Observe how you feel after eating certain foods. You might find you are eating something that causes inflammation, leading to blocked sinuses.
While practicing qigong, I discovered points that help open up and drain my passages. While I am not an acupuncturist, I can describe where these points are.
- Take your middle fingers and place them at the bottom corners of your nostrils. Press in, rub gently in circles and then continue to massage up the sides of your nose, gently pressing in. Be prepared with a tissue, because this is going to loosen up a lot of gunk.
- With your middle finger and thumb, gently pinch your ear lobes. Allow your middle finger to travel up the edge of you ear until you find the little flappy bit. Apply gentle pressure where your ear in that region meets your head. You’ll know when you hit the point, because you’ll feel things begin to drain. You might find a pulse there too.
Clean air is highly under-rated. Once you try an air purifier, you will find breathing your household air as delightful as kicking back and drinking an excellent cup of coffee.
Sometimes, even all of these things don’t work. On those days, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Flonaise. It is amazing stuff.