I am not ashamed to say that I love my Neti Pot! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I will enlighten you very shortly. As the Santa Ana winds blow here in Southern California, each gust kicking up dust and pollen into the air, everyone around me (myself included) seems to be suffering from runny noses and irritated sinuses. It is so hard to concentrate on anything or just feel good when you can’t escape the pain of sinus pressure building up in your head. Your first inclination is to run to the pharmacy or drugstore for some advertised over-the-counter remedy that promises to alleviate your suffering, but stop before you do! Why ingest or snort a bunch of synthetic chemicals that, at best, only mask the symptoms and, at worst, can create more problems than they solve? Why not consider an ancient natural remedy from India that many yogis perform regularly – the practice of Jala Neti. Jala Neti is one of the Hatha Yoga Kriyas, or bodily cleansing and purifying practices, that employs water to cleanse and irrigate the breathing passageways in the head. Many physiological and esoteric benefits have been attributed to the performance of Jala Neti, but for modern people it also offers a natural alternative to drugstore remedies for the prevention and relief of nasal and sinus congestion.
The requirements for performing Jala Neti are pretty simple. You will need a suitable Neti Pot (traditionally called a Lota), which can be purchased at most health food stores and are even becoming available in some drugstores or pharmacies. Neti Pots can be made of ceramic, metal or even plastic. One of my favorites is the Himalayan Institute Eco Neti Pot, which is made of a natural bio-plastic and is perfect for travel. It is pictured at the beginning of this article. The Himalayan Institute Ceramic Neti Pot is another wonderful, comfortable pot design. Whichever type pot you favor, pick one that has a smooth spout, which you will be placing into your nostrils.
The only other two items you will need are a quantity of filtered, slightly warmer than lukewarm water and a little pure salt. Do not use the iodized table variety of salt, but preferably choose a pure, white natural sea salt. A good pinch or two of salt should be completely dissolved into each pot full of lukewarm water you use. The salt will form a saline solution that will have antibacterial properties, as well as helping wash away excess mucous and debris. Now that you have your Neti Pot and have filled it with the salt and water, you are ready to begin. The best place to do Jala Neti is over a bathroom sink, although I use my bio-plastic pot in my morning shower where I am free to get water everywhere with no concern. If at the sink, you may find it helpful to place a folded towel over the front edge of the sink in case you drip or spill.
To begin, tip your head to the left side and, holding the filled Neti Pot in your right hand, gently place the spout into your right nostril. Keep your mouth slightly open, as you will be breathing through your mouth throughout the process. Now, begin to raise the Neti Pot and allow gravity to let the water flow into your nose. Be sure to relax and not overreact to the water in your nose. As you continue to lean your head to the left side, you will feel the water naturally begin to flow out of your left nostril and into the sink. Continue to let it flow until you have used about half of the pot. Remove the spout from your nostril and lean forward, centered over the sink. This will allow the water to flow out of your nose. You may give a slight, gentle blow to help expel the excess water. Now, change hands with the pot and lean your head to the opposite side, repeating the entire process through your nostrils in the opposite direction. After completing this with one pot full of water, you may refill the pot and repeat again, if you desire – but don’t overdo it until you become more experienced with the whole procedure. After performing Jala Neti, some water may remain trapped up in your sinus cavities. It is a good idea to slowly bend forward with your head hanging downward. When you return to standing, you may be surprised by the quantity of water that flows out of your nose. You may have to do this a few times before all of the water is out.
Besides the traditional Neti Lota Pot, there are new devices available that also allow you to do this nasal cleansing process. A company named NeilMed® makes a number of quality products that you might consider. You can purchase the NeilMed Sinus Rinse Regular Bottle Kit 1 kit at Amazon.com for a very modest price. Their SinuFlo® bottle design has a smooth nostril spout on top and a silicone rubber dip tube inside that allows you to gently squeeze the bottle and easily control the amount of water that enters your nose. Just be very careful with this style bottle not to aggressively squeeze the bottle and force the water into your nose under pressure. If you do, you will certainly do more harm than good. Easy does it!
Now you have been given the knowledge to begin practicing Jala Neti. Once you begin doing it, you will turn to your Neti Pot anytime you seek relief from nasal congestion and irritated sinuses. This is also a great remedy for the sore dryness that develops during cold weather when we are shut up in buildings with forced air heating. Jala Neti will surely become your B.F.F. during cold season because the thorough rinsing of your nasal passages washes away the Rhinovirus before it can attach to the receptors in the mucous membranes of your air passages. This will also remedy the undesirable effects of postnasal drip so that the excess mucous does not run down the back of your throat and into your lungs carrying viruses, bacteria and other irritants, causing chest respiratory problems. Don’t be surprised if you catch a lot less colds than usual.
If you are curious about more esoteric benefits attributed to Jala Neti, I suggest that you explore some of the other yoga resources on the net, such as Yoga-Age.com. To pursue these advanced benefits, it is best to learn from a certified, knowledgeable yoga teacher who can provide detailed one-on-one private instruction.