Jal Neti was a practice that we learned but couldn't adopt on a daily basis before pandemic arrived. I have known the benefits of the Jal Neti practice since a long time. Ever since I saw my mother using a Neti Pot when I was a seven year old, I always wondered at the anatomical wonder our body is - how can water flow in to one nostril and come out of the other? What if it gets lost? My brave mind always wondered - what if it gets lost and never finds a way out?
I have been trained in Jal Neti practice during my Yogic Living classes at Bihar School of Yoga. Still, such is the human nature, I could not muster enough courage or motivation to include Neti Kriya in my daily life.
Those who are new to the practice - Jal Neti is an ancient yogic practice which finds good mention in ancient scriptures and Ayurvedic rituals. It is part of one of the six Shatkarmas. Essentially, Neti is a practice of cleansing the nasal passages and sinuses using a solution of warm water and salt. Ayurveda recommends using Neti Kriya to balance all the three Doshas in the body.
Known Benefits of Jal Neti Kriya
I have list down the many known benefits of Jal Neti - Though a few of them may seem to overlap:
1. Simplistically, Jal Neti removes obstacles and blocks in the nasal passage
2. It helps to prevent colds as the rhinovirus in the nostril is flushed out.
3. It is excellent to practice after a flight where we have to breathe the recycled air.
4. It is said to clear the frontal lobes making you feel refreshed and energised.
5. Jal Neti helps the breath flow more easily and quietly. This is relaxing at a deep level.
6. The nose will feel clean, even after breathing in a dusty or sooty environment - Specially helpful if you live and breathe in a polluted environment (I live in New Delhi and can not thank my stars enough for getting introduced to this practice).
7. With regular practice, your sense of smell will improve. Further, as smell improves, the sense of taste improves.
8. Openings from the sinus canals into the nose may drain more easily, preventing or relieving a variety of sinus-related conditions (water, however, does not enter the sinuses).
9. According to yoga manuals, the optic nerve is soothed by the nearby flow of water, relaxing the eyes. A few Yogis have claimed a good eye sight and contributing the benefits to Jal Neti Kriya practiced over years.
10. With regular practice chronic inflammation and irritability of the mucus lining in the nose can be improved. Normal, healthy nasal function can be restored. The seasonal allergies can be managed better.
11. Yoga breathing practices and the concentration of attention are made easier. I have found my meditation sessions improved after Jal Neti practice.
12. I have found that the Neti practice helped me immensely during the second wave of Covid here in India - I was able to bounce back much quickly after getting infected. Jal Neti practice combined with Pranayama and Prone breathing techniques helped during those first few most uncomfortable days of second wave of Covid-19.
How to Use a Neti Pot
Fill the pot with warm water, adding 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Place the spout at the edge of one of the nostrils and tilt the head to the side and slightly forward, so that the water moves through the nostril and out the other side. It may feel like you are drowning at first, but over time you will get used to it. Just make sure to breathe through your mouth, and not your nose. Do one pot per nostril.
Once the nasal wash is completed, 10 to 20 moderately forceful exhalations will help clear loose mucus and any remaining water from the nose. During these exhalations it is important not to squeeze the nose or block the nostrils, and to keep the mouth open. Otherwise water or mucus can be propelled back into the openings of the Eustachian tubes or the sinuses. Blow firmly out into the sink, or into a tissue held lightly around the nose. Remember that one purpose of the wash is to reduce excess mucus—so don’t be squeamish about blowing it out. You’ll feel better if you do.
Tips, Tricks, Recommendations that seem to work like magic!
1. Buy a Neti Pot and spend first few days learning to do the wash properly - the best would be to do/learn under an expert/master/guidance
You can use a variety of Neti Pots available in the market - they are available as plastic, copper, and ceramic versions. Choose the one that resonates with you. AbhinehKrafts makes and promotes ceramic and copper Neti Pots such as THIS for obvious reasons.
2. Try using the Neti Pot every morning for a month in order to see its overall effect. Do not let first few failed attempts dishearten your intent.
3. Practice before your asana or meditation practice to observe the effect.
4. Rinse your nose promptly after exposure to dusty, smoky, or sooty environments and notice the relief.
5. Anticipate allergy seasons by getting started on a regular schedule of two or more daily rinsings. Generally, use the pot before meals rather than following meals to harmonize with the body’s natural mucus-producing schedule.
6. If water does not seem to completely clear from the nose, selected yoga postures such as a simple forward bend; a side stretch with the head facing forward; and a rotated forward bend with the head turned upward are sometimes used to help the process.
7. During the process, breathe through your mouth and most importantly, relax. The more relaxed you are, the better is the practice.
Note: Caution: the nasal wash is not a substitute for medical attention, and anyone with chronic inflammation or blockage of the nasal passages should seek expert assistance. Learn with somebody who is trained in this to help you ease out the anxiety of you have never done this before. For me, watching my parents inculcate this as a regular practice was a calming thought. I still can not thank them enough for introducing us early on to this treasure which has been so readily available and was always in front of us. All we needed to do was embrace the ancient wisdom and make it work in our modern day Yogic Life.
I am posting a few links to the videos that I have personally found to be informative and helpful for any one planning to include Jal Neti as a practice in the daily routine.