The shuddikriya for the cleaning of the nasal path is known as neti. The aim of the process is to purify the breathing path right from the nostrils to the throat. If the aim is achieved using water, the process is known as Jalneti.
Well, to put it simply, jalneti is a cleansing practice of the sinus passages with warm saline water. Yogis have practiced it for centuries for its innumerable and powerful benefits. It is also called Neti or Saline Nasal Irrigation.
In yoga, it has been used for its extremely powerful physical, psychological and spiritual benefits. However, in the modern world – fed on an attitude of immediate gains – jalaneti has gained immense popularity because of its dramatic effect on the sinuses.
Jalneti helps solve the sinus infection and allergy problems without the use of drugs with immediate, immense and sustained results AND without side effects.
- At the immediate level, neti is a great tool for any kind of respiratory disorder – sinusitis, allergy, asthma, hay fever to name a few. People invariably notice an immediate relief, which drugs fail to achieve. Neti helps to re-program the body’s natural mechanisms against respiratory complaints including sore throats, coughs, postnasal drips etc.
Jal Neti rinses out the dirt and bacteria filled mucous lining as the warm water loosens and dissolves any internal build ups, and takes them outwards. Due to gravity and a venturi-effect, the sinus passages are also drained by the vacuum pressure flow of the water. Whereas it would normally be impossible to drain a “dead end” cavity like the sinuses, Jal Neti achieves this ingeniously and simply.
- It can be of great benefit to problems associated with the eyes and ears such as certain types of deafness and myopia. But the great mental and spiritual effects overshadow these tremendous physical benefits
- Neti has a cooling and soothing effect on the brain and is therefore beneficial for headaches, migraine, depression, mental tensions and even epilepsy, hysteria and temper tantrums.
- It stimulates better powers of visualization and concentration and gives a feeling of lightness and clarity to the mind.
- On a higher plane, it is very effective for meditation as it works on the subtle effects of the olfactory bulb, and the psychic center, which is known as the Ajna Chakra in yoga.
- But the best part is that it is excellent for those trying to give up smoking. It reduces mouth breathing and re-sensitizes the nose to the indecency and discomfort of ingesting smoke, therefore deprogramming the brain of the physical and psychological addiction.
How to do it?
Traditionally, the process is performed by dipping the face into the river water, inhaling the water through the nostrils and letting it out through the mouth. The reverse process is sucking the water in by mouth and exhaling it through nostrils. However, in modern times a special “Neti Pot” is used.
- Put warm water into the utensil and add a little salt in it. Tilt the neck and touch the tip of spout to one of the nostrils. Open the mouth and continue breathing through it.
- Gradually pour water into the nostril. Since the breathing is continued through the mouth, the water straightway goes through the food pipe into the throat to the stomach. Just as we drink water through the mouth, in the same way it can be drunk through the nose. When some water is drunk though one nostril, perform the process with the other one. This is process is not neti, but when one is accustomed to drinking water through nose, then practicing neti is easier. During Jalneti, the position of the head and pot are adjusted to allow the water to flow out of the other nostril.
- To help flow water out of the other nostril, tilt the neck further. It is essential to find the pose of the neck here. When the pose is found, the rest of the process is easier. The water poured through one nostril can easily come out of the other. The breathing is naturally through the mouth at this time. Pour water into the left nostril and take it out of the right, then drink it by the right one and take it out of the left. If you have a 1/2 liter vessel, then you can fill the vessel again for the second nostril.
- The stream of water from both the nostrils will not be same depending on the blockade or nervous spasms. Do the whole exercise gently and in relaxed posture. One can wipe the nostrils with clean linen/towel in between while changing the nostrils.
- Having finished with the water part just keep both arms at back and start blowing nose vigorously from alternate nostril(15-20 times) in order to remove every drop of water. Now look up for 15 seconds and while looking up again blow 10-15 time to blow off any residual water left.
- Having finished with the blowing part now go to your exercise room or in open space, lie down in Shawasan (corpse position) for 10 minutes.
For one nostril, generally half a liter of water is to be used. The water should be used at a stretch or with some rests. Since this is a shuddhikriya, one should not include it in daily lifestyle. Whenever, the nasal path needs cleaning, the process can be used.
You can practice Jal Neti in the morning or in the evening and continue for about a month and review your health. If you start feeling better then you can do this exercise as and when required.
Note: Use Jal Neti vessel only, as other vessel may cause some problem in the movement of water. A beginner should seek the help of an expert in learning this technique.
Why is neti so great?
Besides being used to treat full-blown sinus infections, neti is perhaps the BEST preventive. Almost all of us can “sense” when we are about to catch a cold or an impending throat infection. But more frustrating is the “helplessness” or the inability to do anything about it as it takes over our defenses. It is here that neti really outscores everything else. Just flushing your ENT passages through neti a couple of times a day ensures that the infection does not take root and just passes by. The skin in the nasal path gets used to the osmotic pressure. Also, the organs get used to the different temperatures and can continue working without any disturbance.
The nose is the “air conditioner” of the body. One of the many functions of the nose is to regulate the temperature and humidity of the incoming air. Some people have “dry noses” and suffer dry, crusty, nose bleed type problems. Others are “wets”, with the constantly running sinuses and the tissues always up their sleeve! Others have perpetual stuffy and blocked nostrils. Regular practice of Jala Neti helps to establish the correct working environment of temperature and humidity in the nose.
So, it’s wise to consider shedding your apprehension and trying this wonderful practice.
Why is neti relatively slow in gaining popularity?
First is our OWN inertia. Somehow, we as humans cannot imagine the thought of pouring water up our nostrils – the involuntary thought is “what will happen”. Well, nothing really – what goes in comes out – and invariably the reaction changes from one of apprehension to one of unbridled delight.
Secondly, the drug lobbies are certainly not obliging. After all they haven’t found anything as yet that treats colds and allergies well enough and that too WITHOUT side effects. Jalaneti has been projected as something “esoteric” and oriental.
Despite this, neti is gaining immense popularity because of the strong undercurrent of support and propagation by the ever-growing neti doers – including leading doctors and pediatricians.