This time of year, we have lot’s of stuff in the air. Molds, ragweed, mildew, even more pet dander than usual as our furry friends begin to exchange their summer coats with warmer winter ones. There is plenty that we breathe in that has potential to build up, clog, congest and challenge our respiratory system.
Ever have a sinus infection? I am among those of you who raised your hand, nodded your head or clenched up as you recalled the experience of sinus pain, headache, sensitive eyes, stuffy head or that seemingly endless outpouring of mucous from the nose.
Gross. Yes. And very uncomfortable. Sinus infections affect men, women and children of all ages. They occur when there is a build up of mucous in the sinus passages. This can happen as a result of cold, flu or allergies. Once the sinuses become so clogged that infection has set in and the mucous being expelled from the nose has taken on technicolor green and yellow hues, it is time for a course of antibiotics.
There is help before you get to the fluorescent snot stage! For optimal sinus health and sinusitis preventions….Neti Pot to the rescue!!
Since I began Neti, I have not developed a sinus infection again.
If you are not familiar with the practice of Neti, take big breath and as you exhale, open your mind. Neti might seem like a strange thing to do. I assure you it is not uncomfortable and with practice becomes a pleasant and soothing experience.
Jala Neti is a Yoga Kriya. Kriyas are cleansing techniques that were described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is one of the three main Yoga scriptures.
Neti has been practiced in other parts of the world for a very long time. In India it is as common as brushing one’s teeth. Doctors here in the USA are starting to understand the benefits of this practice and they call it Nasal Irrigation. Which means that Neti pots are becoming easier to find and most pharmacies as well as health food stores sell them.
Neti is performed by pouring a warm solution of salt water into one side of the nose and letting it run out the other. The result is removal of mucous from inside the sinus cavities, a gentle cleansing of the nasal passageways and an instantly clearer head. When the sinuses and nasal passages are clear there is a greater exchange of gas that occurs when we breathe. After Neti, it is common to feel a burst of clarity and vitality. The same feeling one gets when taking in pure oxygen. Or if you ever visited a casino in Las Vegas, the same feeling as when you walk under their oxygen vents strategically placed in the entrance that leave you exclaiming, “Wow, I am awake, alive and ready to roll!”.
Neti is performed in three stages, I will only discuss stage 1 practice here.
1. Buy a Neti Pot. I advise against creating a homemade container to dispense water in your nose. A pot costs from $15-$25, are designed to hold exactly 10 oz. water and are made of ceramic to be washed and reused.
How much do we spend on each sinus infection for:
Sudafed (or other decongestant)
It’s a good investment even at $25.00.
You can find one at your local health food store, general pharmacy or order one online.
2. Wash out your new Neti Pot and then fill with warm water (about body temperature) and 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (non-iodized). You can buy Neti Salt for about $3 but any non-iodized finely ground sea salt is fine. Stir the salt into the water until dissolved.
3. Gently blow your nose to remove any loose stuff in the nostrils.
4. Lean forward over the sink. Place the spout of the pot into the right nostril, firmly enough that it creates a seal and tilt your head to the left.
5. Breathe easily through the mouth as the water pours in the right nostril, fills and rinses the sinus cavities and then streams out the left nostril and down the drain with all the gunk that’s been hanging around in there!
Note: if you are very congested or it is your first time using Neti and the water does not come through the other side of the nose, let the water pour in the right nostril and then remove the pot and let it come out the same side of the nose. Repeat on the other side, again and again until the water in the pot is gone. It might take time for some bigger blockages to soften. Persistence pays off and you will ultimately get it flowing in one side and out the other.
6. When the pot is empty, turn your head back to center and gently blow the nose through both nostrils, clearing out any water that remained.
7. Repeat on the other side.
8. Optional. If you know Kappala Bhati pranayama, it is a good additional practice after jalaneti.
Further Note: You might begin with half pot per side of the nose. It might take time to work up to a full 10oz per nostril.
Furthest Note: Be careful with recommendations to use a solution called Alkolol in your Neti pot. It is a menthol and eucalpytus mucous solvent that is sometimes sold with or recommended for use in Neti Pot. I tried this once. ONLY once. The directions on the bottle suggest using a 50% to full strength solution. I tried a 25% solution with warm water and felt as though I was filled with wasabi. After my gasping, eye watering, skull burning and horse like snorting subsided, I decided that Alkolol was a bit too harsh for me. Trust me, warm water and salt work just as well and are much kinder.
It is a gentle, soothing and wonderful health practice. It can be done every day. Or as a supportive measure when challenged by cold or allergy symptoms. It is very useful after contact with dust, dirt or pollutants.
And it seems far gentler than another Neti Kriya called Sutra Neti which is performed by threading a piece of cloth up the nose and pulling it out the mouth. Not sure the “west” is ready for that yet. I haven’t tried this yet (pictured below). I will let you know if I ever do.
Have questions? Let me know, leave a comment or send me an e-mail, I am happy to support the beginner.
Not convinced? Check out the results of a 12 month study done in Australia, read it here.
Lot’s of resources are available online too. Here is a whole website dedicated to jalaneti.
A wikipedia page here.