During Winter, we tend to experience a few more coughs and colds than usual, partly due to the ‘dry’ air causing membranes in the nose and throat try dry up, thus exposing us to more bacteria than usual, but also partly because we tend to move from outdoor cold to more humid indoor warmth frequently.
Ayurveda sees the Winter months as a combination of the doshas Vata and Kapha. Vata consists of the air and ether elements, with qualities like dryness, coldness, roughness, sensations of being ungrounded and scattered, with lots of movement in terms of thoughts, ideas and reactions within the nervous system. Kapha is governed by the earth and water elements, with characteristics of heaviness, steadiness, cohesion, with typical tendencies towards more mucus build up and lethargy in the body.
To balance these energies and prevent them from becoming excessive, it’s important to look at the little things we can include in our daily routine or dinacharya to keep the mind and body well. These five simple techniques can help with un-blocking sinuses, as well as preventing them from becoming blocked:
- Jala Neti: One of the traditional Ayurvedic self care and detox methods, Jala Neti is the practice of using a mixture of warm purified water and good quality salt to clear the nasal passages. A very effective way to help clear and prevent a head cold, and really easy to do! Banyan Botanicals provide a useful video with instructions if you want to learn how to get started: CLICK HERE
- LI 20 & BL 2 acupressure points: Acupressure points work with the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian lines, and are the same points used in acupuncture. For a needle-free way you can use this technique at home, simply use your finger tips to press these points firmly for about a minute at a time to clear the sinuses. Do this a few times a day to help clear blockages and release head ‘fog’. Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth at all possible times can also keep not just the sinuses healthy, but is beneficial for the whole body.
- Reducing Dairy and foods that have a ‘cold’ quality: During Winter, we already experience a lot of the ‘cold’ quality, and adding to it can weaken the digestive system and compromise the immunity. Dairy has a cooling effect, and can also cause a build up of mucus in the sinuses and chest. If you’re feeling blocked and stuffy or have a chesty cough, try reducing the amount of dairy you consume over the colder months.
- Boosting circulation & lymph flow: The immune system sometimes requires a little help to function optimally. Doing simple movements like heel-bouncing, body brushing or simply tapping your body from head to toe with your hands can help boost the movement of lymph, and help move potential illnesses through and out of the body. These practices are also an easy way to boost mood and energy levels throughout the day. Try tapping along the lung meridian lines to keep them healthy and uncongested.
- Get outside: Being in the sunshine and fresh air can help boost the body’s energy and mood levels, as well as help bolster the immune system. Reconnecting to nature is a wonderful way to re-set perspective, as well as helping reduce stress levels (therefore boosting the immune system), and cold air can really help clear sinuses too. NBC news recently reported: “The new study, published today in PLoS One, had 44 healthy volunteers rate their symptoms of stuffiness after breathing air from three boxes. One box contained room air at normal humidity, one held dry air at room temperature and one contained cold air. The volunteers reported feeling less nasal congestion when they breathed from the cold air box and the dry air box, with the cold air being most effective”.