Millions of people today suffer from sinus infections or nasal congestion of some sort. The overuse of antibiotic and prescription drugs has led to many of them becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs, but there is help available through these unique methods of sinus irrigation.
These simple, natural (and inexpensive) techniques of the saline sinus flush originate from within the system of Yoga. Descriptive references of two sinus cleansing kriyas; Sutra Neti (an advanced nasal string cleansing technique) and Jala Neti are found in the Gherenda Samhita, a classic Yoga text dating from the late 1600s or early 1700s. Before this period of time yoga was an oral tradition, so it’s unknown just how old these techniques really are. Sutra Neti will not be dealt with in this article, instead alternative methods of Jala Neti will be discussed.
Modern Jala Neti is most commonly performed by using a neti pot; although syringes, bulbs or even “hydro-pulse” devices are sometimes used and may be effective.
Jala Neti, flushing the sinuses with liquid, is easy to do at home and elsewhere. Traditionally performed with only a cupped hand of salt water and a sniffing action, the technique has evolved for comfort and efficiency.
How to properly do Jala Neti:
The ancient and traditional method of Jala Neti requires no cup, no pot, no catheter or any other fancy equipment. This can be done almost anywhere at almost any time without the need to be bringing anything with you. Your hand and some salt water is all that is required. It’s simple to do, and with this method the mechanical force generated by the gentle sucking action will likely lead to a more thorough cleansing of the nasal mucosa than the passive stream of water dispensed by a neti pot.
Directions for the traditional method: Simply mix up some saline solution by dissolving ½ teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt into 250 ml of tap water (about one cup) which has been warmed to body temperature or slightly warmer, then pour the solution into your cupped hand until it’s full. Over a sink or basin, lower your nose into the water in your hand and suck it up and in, trying to pull as much of the liquid in as possible, letting it drain back out of your nostrils or out your mouth. If you swallow a bit of the salt water it’s okay, but not a great idea.
If you find it’s hard to do this with your hand then you can use a cup or bowl with good results. Place the salted water in a cup or bowl that’s big enough to get your nose into. Experiment to find the most comfortable size for you and then, as before, position yourself over a sink or basin, and adjust the bowl and the angle of your head until you manage to get your both your nostrils under water. You can plug one nostril with your fingers, and inhale with the other or do both simultaneously. The basic idea is to “snort” as much of the salt water solution up your nose as you can. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you taste the salt water at the back of your mouth. Then let go of your nostril and allow the water, mucous, dust and other debris drain out into the sink. If you’re doing one nostril at a time, change sides and repeat.
If “snorting” the salt water up your nose seems a bit difficult for you, you can try the gentler neti pot technique.
If you choose to use a Neti Pot…
Neti pots usually come with an insert that explains how to use them. But anyway here’s the basic idea…Mix the saline solution (as described above) and put it into a commercial neti pot (preferably one with smooth nose tips for sealing the nostril). Then place the spout of the neti pot snuggly into one nostril. Lean over the sink, tilting your head to the other side (at about a 45-degree angle) and bend slightly forward. Tilting the neti pot up, gently pour the saline solution into that nostril. The saline solution should drain from the higher nasal passage to the lower one, coming back out that lower nostril, or sometimes out of the mouth. If it runs into your mouth or throat, just spit it out.
Once you’ve filled the Neti pot, tilt your head over the sink at about a 45-degree angle. Place the spout into your top nostril, and gently pour the saline solution into that nostril.
Next, softly blow your nose (or follow the “drying” instructions in the video that follows) to get rid of any remaining liquid, then refill the Neti pot and repeat the process on the other side. It’s important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
Video demonstration of Neti Pot use…
How and Why Jala Neti Works:
Many people either don’t understand, or have a hard time believing how something as simple and inexpensive as Jala Neti can be effective. Scientistific research studies have shown conclusive results that support the use of Jala Neti as an effective cleansing and healing measure. This is what they’ve found…
*Jala Neti mechanically flushes out mucous containing bacteria, viruses, dust, and allergens.
*Jala Neti thins any remaining mucus so that sinuses and their ostia (tiny openings) don’t clog, which leads to pressure (often painful) and infection.
*Jala Neti reduces the swelling of the nasal mucosa for relief of congestion and “stuffiness”.
*Jala Neti flushes out histamine, leukotrienes, and other naturally occurring chemical substances that provoke inflammation and cause discomfort.
*Regular practice of Jala Neti increases the frequency that cilia (tiny hair-like structures) “beat” (in rhythmic waves) to remove mucus, crusty deposits of snot, and other debris.
More and more medical guidelines used in both the United States and Canada are now recommending nasal and sinus saline irrigation for a variety of conditions. It’s an effective and well-tolerated form of treatment for sinus congestion and nasal drip due to the common cold, allergies, and sinusitis. When using this natural method of healing, most people have found they need less medication (or none) to control their symptoms. Many are able to abandon pills and steroid sprays completely.
Above and beyond alleviating the symptoms of sinus congestion and stuffiness, Jala Neti is a great daily kriya that also functions as a preventative, working to halt their occurrence. It’s one of Yoga’s many great contributions to holistic healing and overall health maintenance.