23 October 2012

Part 1: Inhale Deeply, In This Air? Living in Pollution.

Part 1: Daily Maintenance Routine To Survive in the Pollution of Cairo


Garbage piles up in the streets of Cairo.
I'm one of the lucky ones in Cairo that can still open my windows in the early morning hours to catch the breeze of cooler temperatures. But, it's that time of year and the smells of Cairo are harsher than ever before. The farmers are burning the rice stubble and our air quality takes an even harsher temper.

Every year, we hear that there are crack-downs on farmers burning their fields. Yet, every year, the haze in the air…and yes it looks and smells different from the typical Cairo haze…turns a murky white and becomes unbearable to breath.

The main route for air pollutants is through the nose, mouth and throat. The nose is very efficient at trapping and holding some inhaled pollutants. I have many yogic strategies that I use daily to maintain some sense of healthy eye, nose and throat health in our polluted city.

Here is my Daily Routine For A Pollution Pound of Cure:

LUNGS, THROAT

1) First thing, after waking up in the morning:
Brush your teeth and your tongue. Brush all the way back to the root of the tongue to remove toxins. Brushing to the back of the tongue will make you gag. This is good because it releases the mucus that collects in the throat at night. Yogi Bhajan called the glands at the back of the throat the "monkey glands."

The gagging reflex causes the eyes to water, and will help maintain good vision and prevent cataracts. You want to get rid of the mucus and toxins before you drink anything so the toxins don't go into the intestines and cause diseases.

2) After brushing your teeth, prepare for your Cold Shower called ishnaan or hydrotherapy. When you get into a habit, you will crave a cold shower first thing in the morning. You can turn the water to warm after several minutes to wash your hair and body.

EYES

The main route for air pollutants is through
the nose, mouth and throat. 
Itchy Eyes:
1) One best asana for eyes is to fill your mouth with cold water and hold the water in your mouth. Splash your eyes with cool or slightly warm water about 15 times. Then, spit out the water from your mouth. Repeat a few times to take away itching or stinging. Do NOT use hot water.

2) The soles of your feet are a direct link to the soul of your eyes. The life nerve runs from the tip of our big toe to our optical nerve.

Make the clean connection: wash your feet. After a long day, I always wash my feet with warm and then cold water before I go to bed. This five minute routine not only help my eyes, it calms me for a relaxing sleep and washes off all the pollution picked up from Cairo streets. Once you're in bed, rub a little scented oil into your feet. You can get some very nice oils from the Nefertiti line.

3) Always keep your eyes clean, but do not rub your eyes directly with your hands to prevent other pollutants to enter. Use a tissue. Say no to smoking, as this too causes severe eye ­related disease.

NOSE

Gray or black boogers: 
Black/Gray Mucus happens in the city because of pollution in the air. The job of the mucus is to trap dirt or other particles and prevent them from getting into the body.

Every night before I go to bed, I clean my nose passages thoroughly. Some nights it is frightening at the amount of black stuff that comes out. Besides using tissues or a soft cloth, I use a neti pot.

The Proper Way to Use A Neti Pot

DO NOT USE TAP WATER in your Neti. Tap water contains trace amounts of bacteria and protozoa, which is usually not a problem when you drink the water because your stomach acid does its job. But, when you are washing those organisms into your nasal passages, very bad outcomes can result.

Brass neti pot hand-made from artisan in Khan Khalili
Use only distilled or sterile water, which you can buy in pharmacies here in Egypt.  The label will state “distilled” or “sterile.” If you need to use tap water, then bring it to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, cool it until it is lukewarm.

Use regular salt or specific neti pot salt only. Do not use iodized salt since it can cause irritation. Store the salt in a sealed container to prevent contamination.

Always make sure your neti pot is disinfected before using. Clean it thoroughly after each use with soap and hot water, and store it upright in a well-ventilated area, such as the bathroom counter. It must have a chance to dry out completely before the next use.


Don't share your neti pot with others to avoid passing germs.

Brass neti pot hand-made from artisan in Khan Khalili

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