“The cure for anything is saltwater — sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen
It’s a running joke amongst my friends that I suggest the neti pot as a panacea for whatever ails you in the same way that the lovable, meddling dad from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding advocates Windex.
“Poison oak? Neti!”
“Broken bones? Neti!”
The sentiment rang true to me when my friend Carissa shared the above quote, from writer Isak Dinesen.
In addition to being a champion of the nasal rinse, I’m no stranger to the cathartic release of a good sweat or a good cry. My (almost) daily asana yoga practice helps me find ease through breath, sweat…and, occasionally, tears. And having grown up on the California coast, I’ve often had the soothing sensation of being rocked to sleep after a day of swimming; it’s as if my body takes on the flowing rhythm of the mighty ocean.
What is it about saltwater that is so beneficial? Holistic healer and yoga teacher Saul David Raye says that saltwater is used for physical and energetic cleansing in many healing traditions. Shamans and other healers will often keep a bowl of saltwater nearby to aid them in clearing energy.
Intention plays an important role in holistic treatments.”In the yogic view of life, the whole universe is made of the 5 elements. Man is a microcosm of the macrocosm. In order to maintain homeostasis we have to be in harmony with the elemental forces,” says Raye. “Parts of modern life have brought us out of harmony, but natural healing helps us restore our body’s balance with the elements. That’s where the power of intention comes in: The ritual of taking a shower, epsom salt bath or ocean swim can be a beautiful thing. The more we do it with intention, the greater the healing effect.”
But saltwater remedies might not work for everyone. “Everything can be medicine and everything can be poison,” cautions Sonia Masocco, Ayurvedic Practitioner and faculty of the Ayurvedic Insitute. “Saltwater can purify the system, however, in excess it can also aggravate.” Depending on a person’s dosha (individual constitution) and condition, different saltwater therapies might be recommended or contraindicated. Masocco says that salt water can exacerbate wasting diseases, indigestion, fever and ulcers, for example. Generally, the average yogi bear can neti freely — especially during allergy season — but if you are seeking treatment for a serious condition, you should consult with an Ayurvedic Practitioner, qualified healer or other medical professional.
Natural remedies like saltwater work in tandem with our self-awareness and, through awareness, intention setting. When I moved away from California after college I found myself missing the sea—something about the ebb and flow of the tide sets me right, serves as a reminder that everything comes and goes. That’s my story, what’s yours?
Lindsay Jean Thomson doesn’t go anywhere without her neti pot. She’s back in California teaching vinyasa yoga in beautiful San Francisco. Although the water there is a little cold and shark infested for her swimming preferences, she puts her toes in whenever possible. You can sweat (or cry) it out in her classes at International Orange and yoga mayu. She is in no way compensated by those big bad neti pot companies… or so she says.