Self-care is a term that’s been thrown around so loosely in wellness and beauty circles—but besides the yoga retreats and $500 face vibrator, how much of self-care discussions are actually focusing on the ability to function better? It took me a large chunk of my 20’s to find out that it’s easier to listen to my body when my senses aren’t deterred by poor nutrition or environmental toxins. I'll be sharing four essential tools that I use to cleanse my systems. Why? Because neither congestion, brain fog, nor constipation are a good look on any of us. These tools are the Holy Grail; they help me think clearly and function optimally.
You know that feeling in the morning when your nose feels like a big balloon? Sinus congestion is not cute. Mornings are meant for me and my Neti pot because I swear, clearing out my sinuses is the best thing I’ve started doing to myself. You’re missing out if you haven’t tried it yet. To be completely honest, I was scared of possibly drowning—but as long as you don’t inhale the water, you’re good!
You might have seen Neti pots sold in the pharmacy, but this ancient technique was actually practiced by yogis to help them breathe better during yogic practices. Jala Neti is the Sanskrit term that translates to “water cleansing.” It is considered to be a purifying technique in Hatha Yoga.
Performing Jala Neti involves using a Neti pot filled with filtered room temperature water and a bit of non-iodized salt, which will help break up the mucus. The water is poured into one nostril, through the nasal passages, and out the other nostril. While pouring, make sure to breathe through the mouth. Once finished, repeat in the opposite direction.
I was introduced to this special herb on a quest for green tea leaves in India, but all that was available at the market was Tulsi (Holy Basil) Green Tea. In the midst of whatever chaos was happening outside my window, I brewed a cup of tulsi tea in my hotel room and sat back, fully relaxed. It was then that I realized tulsi is what I’ve been missing my whole life.
Tulsi is the Hindi name for the holy basil plant, which grows wildly in India. As an adaptogen, it helps the body cope with stress by soothing the nervous system and balancing brain chemistry. Aside from its therapeutic advantages, it has been traditionally used to treat respiratory problems such as asthma, aids in an upset stomach, and is also used for dental health.
Commonly consumed as a tea, the herb is also available in supplement or essential oil form. To make tulsi tea, pour 1 cup of boiled water over 1.5 teaspoon of dried tulsi leaves, then steep for at least 15 minutes.
I’ll quickly take ghee over butter in a heartbeat. As one of the most revered oils of India, ghee has been used in cooking, ceremonially, and in Ayurvedic medicine for over 5,000 years. Ghee is formed by simmering cow butter to filter out any water or dairy sediments, resulting in a concentrated liquid gold.
As one of the healthiest fats, ghee is rich in vitamins A, D, E, Omega-3 and Omega 9. It strengthens immunity, boosts digestion, reduces the risk of heart diseases, supports bone health, and is a potent antioxidant.
Ghee can be used both internally and externally. With a high smoke point of 482 degrees Fahrenheit, ghee is ideal for high-temperature cooking in comparison to other vegetable oils. Reap the benefits by massaging it into your skin to produce more collagen, or do what I do—take a teaspoon in the morning with a warm cup of tea to keep the gut happy and to help eliminate toxins from the body.
Constantly in the hustle and bustle of the big city, I tend to forget when to decompress. Because of this, I’ve added Ashwagandha to my daily supplements. Ashwagandha is a safe and potent adaptogen that protects the body from the damaging effects of stress. Referred to as “Indian ginseng,” it is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing.
This superherb is most well-known for its restorative and rejuvenating properties. By lowering cortisol levels, Ashwagandha helps the body adapt to emotional and physical stressors. Many degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are associated with chronic nervous tension. As such, Ashwagandha may be a promising alternative treatment for those diseases. It has been proven to improve focus, enhance mental stamina, and has also been shown to increase fertility for both men and women.
To get a jump start on my day, I typically consume Ashwagandha in the morning. It can also be consumed at night to induce sleep for those who suffer from insomnia. I highly recommend this herb to those who need to reduce stress levels or want to heat things up in the sheets.
Words & illustration by Melissa Ver