One of the yogic cleansing rituals, or shatkarma (lit-six actions), Jala Neti is simple to learn, easy to practice, time efficient and highly effective. It is in its primary stage, the very simple practice of running warm saline water through the nose, in one nostril and out the other.
Time to practice: Jala neti can be done up to four times a day but once a day before you take your first meal will be very effective, and can be incorporated into your normal morning routine along with your shower and brushing your teeth.
Neti health benefits
* Neti removes all the dirt and bacteria-filled mucus from within the nose.
* It also helps to drain the sinus cavities. This will help to reprogram the body’s natural mechanisms against nasal infections such as hay fever, allergies, sinusitis and other upper respiratory complaints like sore throats and coughs, post nasal drip, inflammation of tonsils and adenoids.
* Illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis can be eased as it reduces the tendency for mouth breathing by freeing the nostrils of mucus.
* It has a cooling and soothing effect on the brain by drawing out excessive heat, and is therefore beneficial for headaches, migraine, epilepsy, temper tantrums, hysteria, depression and general mental tension.
* Problems associated with the eyes. It helps flush the tear ducts, encouraging better vision and giving a sparkle to the eyes.
* It can be beneficial for certain types of ear disorders such as middle ear infections, glue ear and tinnitus.
* Neti improves sensitivity of the olfactory nerves, helping to restore lost sense of smell, and thereby benefits the relationship with taste and digestive processes.
* It has subtle effects on the pineal and pituitary glands which control the hormonal system. This has a harmonizing effect on emotional behaviors.
* Neti is excellent for those trying to give up smoking. As it reduces the tendency for mouth breathing, Neti re-sensitizes the nose to the actual pollution of ingesting smoke, thereby de-programming the brain of the physical and psychological addiction.
Neti as yoga practice
Apart from the many health benefits, Neti is also a yoga practice. In other words, the process of executing the technique, necessarily involves relaxed attention, and the neti’s benefits are extended through practicing with this yogic attitude. Feeling the water flow and allowing it to pass through will both deepen and relax your attention. It draws the senses inwards (pratayahara) and calms the mind into a deeper and more immediate relationship with the practice and consequently life. This intimacy, absorption (dhrana) points the mind to the deeper awareness where duality is transcended and only relationship counts (Samadhi).
Neti as ritual
Daily practice of Neti is also a cleansing ritual. Nowadays, ritual is sometimes viewed as antiquated, or even primitive. Ritual is primal in that it connects to deeper patterns in our being that go deeper than race, gender and culture. Ritual is essentially a language without words. The practice of Neti points to fresh starts, receptivity and mental clarity. In this way it helps to set our intentions for the day.
Neti as surrender
An essential component of a successful life is the ability to let go, to trust - not life’s specifics but life itself. In the practice of Jala Neti, this principle is essential, otherwise the sinuses ‘grip’ and do not allow the water to pass through. Doubt is seen as a hindrance in eastern philosophy because it stops us moving forwards. And it has an amazing ability to keep us caught up in conversation with it until it is too late.
Without surrender, one will never feel the supports within and without us and it is this principle that underpins the yogic experience of Ishvara Pranidhana, or dedication surrender to , the lord – not to be understood as subservience to an outside force, but as a recognition of the universal intelligence or non personal “knowing” that allows us to “know” without having to refer to social, personal philosophical stand points.
How to Practice Jala Neti stage one
1. Prepare the saline solution: comfortable nasal cleaning needs correct salt concentration ratio to water and correct water temperature. The solution should have the same salt concentration as your tears (0.9%) and be warmed to normal body temperature or a bit warmer. If the salt concentration is too low or too high, the experience can be unpleasant. Water that is too cool will cause the nasal membranes to swell which is uncomfortable, defeating the purpose of the wash. Water that is too hot will burn the sensitive nasal mucosa. The solution should be prepared with filtered water and a pure, non-iodized salt. The amount of salt you need to add will depend upon both the volume of water you use and the texture of the salt you select. Some Neti pots come with salt and a measuring spoon, but if not then the mixture is around 1 scant teaspoon salt (that’s slightly less than a teaspoon as oppose to a level teaspoon) 16 ounces (500 ml) warm water.
2. How to practice: Do neti over a sink or outdoors. Hold the pot in one hand and place the spout into one nostril, so that it fits snugly. A good neti pot will have a smooth spout with a wide-to-narrow end to fit all nostrils, the stainless steel ones are usually best as they do not have a defined seam as some plastic ones can, the ceramic ones are often very comfortable but the jug capacity is often too small.
Lean forward, breathe in a relaxed way through the mouth and turn the head to one side. Now the water will flow by itself, in through one nostril and out of the other.
When half of the water has run through one nostril, gently blow out any remaining water and mucus. Then repeat this process in the other nostril and again, gently blow out any remaining water and mucus.
3. Dry immediately after Neti: bend forward and let your head hang loosely down with the crown facing directly down (bend your knees if needs be), so that the remaining water can run out of the nose. Blow gently (not forcefully) until the nose is dry. Then stand up and breathe rapidly in and out through one nostril while closing the other one of with your fingers or thumb five to ten times and repeat on the other side. Finally, breath rapidly in and out through both nostrils simultaneously, five to 10 times. This exercise to dry the nose is a vital part of nose cleansing, and should be done thoroughly every time.
Jala Neti Stage 2
The second stage of Jala Neti is called sinus bellowing. It’s a more advanced and powerful practice; therefore, first master the simpler version of Stage 1. Ideally, this stage of Neti should be supervised by a teacher on your first few attempts.
Begin with Stage 1 (above) to clear out the frontal nasal passages; it is not necessary to dry the nose fully between Stages 1 and 2. A few gentle blows out into the sink are sufficient before refilling the neti pot.
On the second pot – while the water is running through from one nostril to the other – gently sniff backwards and spit out of the mouth. The easiest way is to draw one slow, long inhalation through the nose and “bubble” the water as it goes through. Avoid quick sharp snorts or you may send water up the ear tubes and sinuses. On the exhalation, that water is spat out the mouth. One or two slow sniffs will use half a pot. Repeat on the other side for several slow sniffs to drain the pot. Try not to swallow any water when sniffing backwards.
Repeat the full drying process as many times as it takes so that no water is left in the sinuses.
Vajrasati yoga recommends the nose buddy as the best neti pot we've tried to date. It is engineered by the Swiss and gives you plentiful water to really flush through the nose, a measuring/stirring spoon to give you the exact right quantity of salt and a water line to show you how much water should be mixed with it. It does not look pretty but it really works!