Do You Neti? A Visit To The Baraka Ceramic Studio


It's been about a decade since I first heard about using a neti pot to clean and rinse the nasal passage. One of my first yoga teachers recommended the practice when I was dealing with a gnarly cold. I remember googling "neti pot" back in 2007 and quickly dismissing the treatment. No way was I going to pour warm, salty water through my nose. Sounded uncomfortable and probably unhygienic. 

Ten years later, when I was dealing with yet another wild cold, I mustered enough courage to give it a try. I was home in Florida at the time, visiting family for the holidays and went to the local health foods store in search for a neti pot. I unknowingly picked up a hand-crafted ceramic Baraka pot. It's beautiful design and grounded-ness made the idea of nasal rinsing a bit more inviting. I also bought the Baraka Infused Mineral Salts because I figured if I was going to pour salty water through each nostril, the salts might as well have some lovely essential oils. It's all about self-love and rituals, my friend.

This time around, I approached the neti pot with a bit more knowledge, openness, and context. Nasal irrigation has been around for thousands of years, as old as Ayurveda medicine itself. One of the core principles in the Ayurvedic philosophy is that we digest and experience the world around us through our five senses; thus, the Ayurvedic tradition teaches one to keep these sense organs clean to support healthy digestion (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and inspire clear perception and intentional engagement with the self and surrounding world. I'd already been practicing oil pulling, tongue scraping, and self-oil massage (abhyanga) and felt ready to give the neti pot a try. I carefully mixed a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the pot and gave it a go. After a few adjustments in the angle (you need to tilt your head down and to the side so the water doesn't go down your throat) the water came pouring out! It was instant relief and I was truly amazed at how less congested I was after the treatment. Not only that, but my cold was gone within a few days.

I don't have allergies and really don't get sick very often; however, I still use my neti pot about once a week. For me, it's a nourishing and cleansing ritual that supports clear perception. I want to awaken my senses and engage fully with the world around me and the Ayurvedic rituals, like the neti pot, support this intention.

If you are at all curious about nasal irrigation, I highly recommend the Baraka products. I recently visited the ceramics studio and was struck by their holistic, green, and mindful approach to design and production. They source clay and herbal ingredients as close to home as possible and are careful in their manufacturing and packaging practices. They are committed to the happiness of the their employees, customers, and planet and are striving to support others in living their best lives.

Om Namaste




Being Well On-The-Go

Being well on-the-go is learning to be kind to yourself.
— Sydney Leto

If you travel for work or have a case of wanderlust, you may be able to relate to the challenge of feeling well, aligned, and nourished on-the-go.

I'm writing this from a real-time perspective, as I am currently in Greensville, South Carolina where I have been for the past few days leading a Wise and Wild Women's retreat at Furman University. Directly before that, I was visiting family in Florida while also being visited BY Hurricane Irma. The past two weeks have been unpredictable, a little unstable, and awe-inspiring to say the least... and I loved every minute of it.

Outside of my regular teaching schedule, I'm not one to follow a daily routine. Over the years and through a LOT of trial and error, I have realized that I actually thrive in the more organic, go-with-the-flow sort of moments. For a long a time, I felt guilty, shameful, and reckless when I would make little and life decisions more spontaneously; however, now I KNOW that it's actually energizing and life-fulfilling for me to be present and to move through life from a place of intuition. Schedules and routines are draining and make me feel stuck. Travel and fluidity feed my fire, fill my soul, and allow me to engage more FULLY with the people, animals, and land around me.

However, I know this isn't true for everyone and I recently sat down with my good friend and most wonderful teacher and human being Sydney Leto who travels and leads outdoor adventures for a living. Below she talks about her perspective on wellness and shares all her tricks, tools, and wisdom for staying grounded, energized, and nourished while living on-the-go.

Meredith: How do you describe your work?

Sydney: I am an active travel guide for a company called Backroads. The company started in Oakland nearly forty years ago and now offers mostly six day hiking and cycling tours all around the world. While a major part of the job is being active outdoors and exploring new places, an even bigger part is supporting and caring for our guests. I am everything from a hiking guide to a caterer, a bike mechanic to a DJ, an expert to a driver.

Meredith: What do you love about your work?

Sydney: I love the people I get to collaborate with each day. The Backroads community is an incredible coming-together of open minded, beauty seeking adventurers who are always looking to be a little bit better.

At first communal living was a challenge for me me, and at times it still is, but now I love walking into the house and knowing that one of my coworkers/roommates will probably offer some seed of inspiration - either through picking up an instrument or asking an interesting question.

Meredith: What are some of the challenges you face in this “on the go” lifestyle?

Sydney: It is next to impossible to know when you will have space, or create a solid routine. Most mornings I wake up in a new bed, in a shared room, with likely two other people. The greatest challenge is establishing simple rituals that help me feel grounded when everything around me is constantly changing.

Meredith: How do you start to describe what it means to be “well?”

Sydney: Being well on-the-go is learning to be kind to yourself. This was my greatest challenge as a new leader.

The moment I gave up the comfort of my everyday routine in San Francisco was the same moment I began forcing control in other parts of my life. What I learned is that when you're constantly in motion though, the best lesson is to have a sense of self while maintaining a flexible mind. In this lifestyle, most days will not go as imagined - a hike might get rained out, a guest might need special attention, your five minutes of morning quiet might be interrupted, you might eat something you normally wouldn't - but through being kind to yourself, rather than critical and spiraling out of control for days, you can bounce back and be even better the next time you encounter a challenging situation. Through this lifestyle I've learned that being well is flowing with the stream rather than grasping and working against it. It is living in a way that is lovely - with yourself and the world around you.

Meredith: What are some tips/tools you have to stay well?

Sydney: Creating a self-care toolbox is essential, for any type of lifestyle. For me, it is hard to find physical space for practice, so instead I try to find space in my mind first. Each morning, before I lift my head off the pillow, I simply observe where I am, how I feel, and notice the qualities. By this I mean that if I am feeling foggy, I simply observe that state, without spinning a story about it. If I'm feeling rested, I observe that state just the same. Then, I take a moment to set my intention for the day. I ask myself, “how do I want to feel today?” And then I determine what I need to do to feel that way. It isn't a particularly long time that I lay in bed thinking, maybe two minutes. Then, I get up.

Another ritual that helps me feel grounded on the go is simply preparing a thermos for the day with hot water and lemon. I also need coffee, so I have a smaller thermos for that. Breakfast - even eating something - is essential. It's the one meal I seem to have the most control over, so I do my best to have something juicy and filling, like fresh fruit and some nuts or oatmeal.

I've also heard that hugging someone first thing in the morning will help you live longer. Just saying.

Meredith: You were mostly recently in ALASKA! Tell us about that.

Sydney: When I was first sent to Alaska, I had no idea what to expect. I was totally ignorant - I didn't even realize that Alaska had mountains! But, this place is perfect. Alaska is water. It's green, it's blue, it's gray and it's dramatic. I didn't realize how distracted I was living in a city until I found myself in vast Alaska. This place makes you crave something simple, it tempts you to pursue peace and quiet. It's totally creative.

Meredith: And where are you off to next? 

Sydney: Next up I am heading out east to Nantucket, Vermont and Maine. After living in San Francisco for three years, where it's always mild, I am so excited to experience a full fall season again. There is something so comforting about the fall, it always feels like a homecoming.


Keep up with Sydney, her travels, and her committment to staying well by following @sydleto on Instagram. 

Whole-Food, Plant-Based Backpacking Meals

Desolation Wilderness, California

Desolation Wilderness, California

Can you stay nourished, energized, and satisfied on this diet while backpacking through the wilderness? YES! I recently gave it a go during a 3-day, 2-night, trip and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. In fact, I planned the food for six people and everyone was thankful for the hearty and tasty meals I provided. Here is what we ate:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, dried fruit, and almond butter

Oatmeal is a whole-grain, making it the ideal breakfast food for a good amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, along with traces of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, zine, and iron!

The nutritional value of dried fruit depends on what variety you choose. I found a good list with information here. We brought a variety of dried raisins to put in our morning oatmeal, giving a calorie, protein, and fiber boost to our day.

Nut butters are a good source of protein, fiber, and good fats.


Lunch: Hummus, carrots, green peppers, whole-wheat tortillas, apples, and almond butter

Although hummus is low in calories, it is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It also has traces of vitamin k, vitamin c, zinc, iron, and magnesium.

I love the satisfying crunch of carrots and green peppers and used them to dip in the hummus. I also find green peppers refreshing and hydrating. You can play around with what vegetables to bring- carrots and green peppers are pretty sturdy and pack well.

We actually brought whole-wheat tortillas AND pita bread, but I prefer tortillas and use them to make a hummus and veggie wrap.

Apples are also very refreshing and easy to pack. DELICIOUS with almond butter. We managed to bring 6-8 apples (everyone carried at least one) and I think we had an extra to cut up and put in our oatmeal on the third morning :)


Snack Attack- nuts and seeds, dried fruit, chocolate- also more veggies, hummus, apples, and nut butter

We brought a variety of nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts along with dried cranberries and cherries and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They all contain a good amount of calories, healthy fats and carbohydrates, and different vitamins and minerals. Here is more information about nuts and seeds.

We also had a trail mix with chocolate. WARNING: chocolate might melt and turn your trail mix into a gooey, but still delicious snack! 


Dinner Meal #1- Green lentils, millet, onion, spices (turmeric, coriander, paprika, ground cumin, and salt)

Green Lentils are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber! The are also a good source of iron, zinc, potassium and folate.

I had never cooked millet before, but I heard it was very good for you. It took a bit longer to cook than I would have liked, but this could have been because the pot we were using wasn't cooking evenly. However, millet has a TON of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, copper, and phosphorous. Couscous or quinoa would be two other good options to add here.

Onions are easy to pack and add a delicious flavor to any meal! 

I pre-mixed a variety of spices and put them in a ziplock bag. This is totally optional, but definitely added a lot of good flavor to our meals.


Dinner Meal #2- barley, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and green pepper

Barley is whole grain that is very filling and delicious. It contains many good vitamins and minerals and is easy to cook. We added our last onion and green pepper to add some fresh flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes will add a PUNCH of good flavor along with a good amount of calories, protein, and fiber. 


Success! We ate so well and felt great the entire trip.

What is your experience? What meals would you or have you packed on overnight hiking trips? Please share you own ideas! Let's support each other in living long and healthy lives!

#spiritwellness #yoga #meditation #mindfulness #wellness #eatmoreplants #domoreyoga