The practice of Jal Neti, or using a Neti pot, is one of the six Shatkarmas. Shatkarmas are yogic cleansing techniques and also include Kapalabhati, Nauli and Trataka. Essentially, Neti is a practice of cleansing the nasal passages and sinuses using a solution of warm water and salt.
On a physical level it removes obstacles and blocks in the nasal passage. Some say this helps to prevent colds as the rhinovirus in the nostril is flushed out. It is excellent to practice after a flight where we have to breathe the recycled air. On an energetic level it is said to clear the frontal lobes making you feel refreshed and energised.
Why do I regularly practise Neti?
I could give you all the different reasons and health benefits as stated in the many different yoga books or online, but these are things you can easily access and read for yourselves. Instead, I’m going to give you my own personal account of the practice and why I practise Neti regularly.
I find we need regular reminders for our clarity, our union with the universe as it unfolds around us. We can find this in the beauty of nature, the smile of a loved one or in our yoga practice.
Neti, for me, is a daily reminder of purity (saucha in Sanskrit). Purity in actions and purity in thoughts.
The physical action of pouring the warm saline solution through my nostrils in the morning clears the way for a new day. I find myself refreshed, my mind seems clearer. It reminds me of the feeling you get from diving into an ocean wave, and that first breath as you surface.
Here’s how to use a Neti pot
- A Neti pot
- Warm water (use either cooled, boiled water or distilled water)
- Natural salt such as rock salt or sea salt, avoid table salt which has anti-caking agent added (about half a teaspoon for half a litre of water)
- Bowl or sink
- Add the salt to the water and make sure it has dissolved. The water should be around body temperature.
- Angle the head by tipping it to one side so that the water will go up your nostril. Don’t tilt your head back or you’ll end up with the water going down your throat.
- Open your mouth a little so that you don’t create an airlock. This will help the water to flow – and allow you to breathe.
- Put the spout of the neti pot to your nostril and pour in the water slowly – it will come out of your other nostril. You can use half or a full neti pot for each nostril.
- Depending on the size of your nasal passage the water may flow freely out or it may take a little longer to run through – we are all different. You may also get a delayed release of some water later so be prepared for this when you are trying neti for the first few times!
- After you have finished both nostrils, gently blow your nose with the tissue.
- You can also use some gentle Kapalabhati breathing to dry the nostrils. Exhaling through the nostrils while contracting the abdomen and letting the inhalation be passive. Do not force the breath through the nostrils too strongly here.
- Take a few moments to notice any changes in your body after you have finished.