Sep 23, 2008


Jala-neti or simply neti, is cleansing the nasal passage with water, nothing else.

Its benefits…

The benefits of neti are so many that once you start doing neti regularly, you might wonder why this disarmingly simple thing didn’t come to you before. If you have been suffering from sinusitis, allergy and headache [including migraine], you will get immediate – and also permanent – relief. This simple procedure also prevents nasal infections, including common cold and flu, in a natural way and this in turn helps build resistance to many pathogens. It is reported to be highly effective in lessening asthma and preventing hay fever. Unsubstantiated reports have come to my notice about its usefulness in curing certain types of myopia, ear problems, even hysteria. For the nasal cavities ruined by smoking, neti is a great rejuvenator. All this without any side-effects of modern medicine and without having to spend so much on medical consultations.

I will not talk of psychological and spiritual benefits that you might have. In fact, if you have been practicing yogic exercises and meditation, the benefit will be eminently synergistic.

Must I buy a neti pot, and must I spend on learning it?

To do neti, people often prescribe a neti pot. A neti pot is a pot with nozzle that fits a nostril. If neti pot does not pinch your pocket, go buy it, but it is not at all necessary that you do neti with only a neti pot. You can do it with a slight variation with a slanted tumbler [though this will need some practice]. You can start doing neti safely if you take the precautions given here. You do not need to join a yoga class to learn only neti.

Doing neti the first time…

Take more than half a litre [2 tumblers] clean water, heat it to make it lukewarm, put a pinch of salt in it, stir it. Taste it: it should be as salty as tears. Beyond the commonsense that it should not hurt the soft inner skin of the nose with heat or saltiness, don’t worry too much; you will come to know of the right temperature and salinity after a few trials.

Fill half the tumbler [ or the neti pot], stand at the wash basin, tilt your head to a side. Hold the tumbler/pot so that the water touches your upper nostril. With the other hand, close your lower nostril and try to pull some water through the upper one. If the water feels warm, add some cold water. If it irritates the inside of your nose, you possibly need to put some more salt in it. In 4 out of 5 cases, when you do this for the first time, you may feel some irritation. If that goes instantly after you have removed water, it is perfectly natural. Note that the right temperature will be that in which water does not feel warm or cool deep inside the nose.

All right. Slowly push some more water into the upper nostril and let the water come out of the lower nostril. Once you have done it a number of times, you are ready to do neti.

Standard procedure…

In simple form of neti [and we should generally be doing only this form], you let the water go inside the nasal cavity through one nostril and let it come out of the other nostril. The flow is provided by slanting the head and keeping the water level high on the pot. When you do it with a slanting tumbler, you have to pull water inside slightly so that the flow starts; when it comes to a standstill, pull water again.

Once you have used up half the water, slant the head to the other side and repeat the same with the other nostril.

After neti, let the water drip out of the nose. Push it out with slight force to further dry the nasal passage. If after you are finished with neti, one or two drops of water come out of the nose, it is natural.

Do’s and don’t’s…

  • Neti is best done after sometime of your rising in the morning.
  • Do not force water in or out; it will hurt the inner lining of the nasal passage.
  • Do not force yourself to do the standard procedure. If it is taking some time, let it be. Yoga forbids force or extremes.
  • In cases of high degree of congestion, as during flu, avoid forcing neti. Do it if you can do it comfortably.
  • Immediately after neti, do not go out in cold wind, do not smoke, and do not use strong smelling perfumes or incense.