The hatha yoga practice of gently cleansing the nasal passages with warm saline water is simple to do and highly effective. At this time of the year when coughs and colds are upon us nasal washing known as neti can bring instant relief to cold symptoms and as work as a preventative measure by strengthening the respiratory system.
I’ve been doing this practice for years and continue to use it regularly to create optimal conditions for my pranayama practice but also to relieve sinus congestion due to excess mucus when I have a cold. Other benefits have been relief from headaches and removing sleepiness in the morning as you feel energizing effects immediately.
A lota (small pot with a long spout) is used to pour water into the nose. It is generally made of brass, though any other suitable material can be used which does not contaminate the nose and body.
Clean, salty, lukewarm water (at body temperature) is poured through the left nostril. The head is tilted to allow the water to flow through the nasal cavity and out through the right nostril. The spout of the lota is then inserted in the right nostril and the procedure repeated.
Note: one teaspoonful of salt is used per half a litre of water to make the solution isotonic. This prevents water being absorbed into the nasal blood vessels and prevents irritation of the sensitive nasal membranes.
The passage of water through the nostrils washes the whole mucus membrane of the nasal cavity. All the sinuses and structures in the nose are given a soothing bath and are thoroughly cleaned. At the same time the nerves and blood vessels are stimulated.
Tilting the head and positioning the body in the right way is important in getting an easy flow from one nostril to the other. Drying the nostrils correctly takes a bit of practice but you soon know if this hasn’t worked properly as your nose will start dripping afterwards – not ideal in the middle of a yoga class!
Getting the right amount of salt and temperature of the water just right are essential. Anything that creates a stinging sensation in the nose means something is not right –It’s important to get expert guidance from an experienced practitioner of this technique to guide you initially until you are confident to continue on your own.
Apart from helping to maintain good health, it can alleviate ailments such as colds and coughs, eye ailments, nose ailments, throat ailments, sinusitis, tonsillitis, catarrh, adenoid inflammation, headache, insomnia, tiredness, migraine, epilepsy, depression, tension, lung diseases (asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchitis) and even facial paralysis.
Here is the link to an excellent article written by Dr. Swami Shankaradevananda going into more detail on the physical, mental, pranic and overall health benefits of this amazing practice.
I would encourage you to give neti a go - it is a safe, easy to do, natural method of cleansing the nasal passages with many other positive health benefits.
Get in touch with me if you would like to try it for yourself.
Hari Aum Pragyadhara