Neti Pot Wonders

During my yoga teacher training I was taught a unique method of sinus irrigation as a part of the yoga kriyas (yoga cleansing exercises), called jala neti. Jala Neti is a way of washing the sinuses in a unique manner through a special pot called the neti pot. Neti pots offer drug-free, all-natural, cost-effective relief from recurrent nasal irritation. Any sinus sufferer knows that relief like that translates to an improved quality of life. Beyond just relieving sinus issues, the neti pot also improves issues plaguing the eyes, ears, throat and nose. The benefits could be another blog post in and of itself. I swear by my neti pot and do it as often as 4-5 times a week (everyday during allergy season).

The way the neti pot works is that a saline solution is poured up the nose to clear the nasal passages of mucus and anything else that’s hanging around up there (think dust, pollen, etc.). This prevents the mucus from pooling in the sinuses, where it would provide the consummate breeding grounds for bacteria. Some people use a neti pot only when they feel a cold coming on while others use it daily as a preventative. During allergy season, people may find it helpful to use one to two times a day to help relieve pain or congestion. In any case neti pots are fairly cheap and can be found at any health food store and at most drug stores.

What Exactly Is a Neti Pot? A neti pot is a small ceramic or plastic pitcher. It has two openings, one at the top and another in the spout. It is filled with salt water to cleanse your nasal passages. Cleansing your sinuses in this manner relieves symptoms associated with colds, flu, sinus infections, nasal dryness, allergies, and other sinus irritations. It also helps reduce swelling of the nasal membranes. A sinus wash is recommended as part of your daily personal hygiene regimen, especially for those who suffer from sinus issues regularly or seasonally.

What You Need:
  • neti pot
  • lukewarm water (boiled or distilled water is recommended)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (non-iodized)
How to Neti:
  1. Fill the neti pot with water. The water should be lukewarm (not too hot, not too cold)(approximately 1/2 cup of water).  I usually pour room temperature previously boiled water in with the salt, then add a splash of just boiled water just to warm it up.  
  2. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or table salt (must be non-iodized) to the water. Stir with spoon to dissolve thoroughly (you basically want the water to be as salty as your tears).
  3. Lean your head forward over the sink (or shower), bending your neck down slightly with your eyes looking downwards.
  4. Gently place the spout of the neti pot inside your right nostril, forming a seal to avoid any outer leakage.
  5. Open your mouth slightly. Breathe continuously through your open mouth during this sinus cleansing procedure. This allows a necessary air passageway so that the water will not drain from behind your nose into your mouth.
  6. Tilt your head sideways, so that your right nostril is directly above your left nostril. Tip the neti pot, allowing the water solution to pour into your right nostril. Within a few seconds the water will naturally drain from your left nostril into the sink.
  7. After the net pot is empty, remove the spout from your right nostril, and exhale gently through both nostrils. Gently blow your nose into a tissue. (Notice how I emphasized gently).
  8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 for your left nostril.
  9. Follow up with nasya (practice explained below).
  1. Thoroughly clean your neti pot after each use. Periodically place it in your dishwasher for a thorough sanitizing. Same as a toothbrush, do not share your neti pot with anyone else.
  2. Try using only half the amount of recommended salt the first few times you use your neti pot until you become more accustomed to the process.
  3. Applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the inside of both nostrils before the treatment helps sooth sensitive skin.
  4. You may notice improved breathing, smell and taste.
  5. If you experience any discomfort please discontinue using your neti pot and consult your doctor or other health care provider.

Follow Up with Nasya:

Nasya is another nasal cleansing technique and works best in conjunction with neti. Be aware that too much neti can cause drying of the nasal passage, so it is important to perform regular nasya to keep the nasal passage well lubricated. For this, you can use plain sesame oil. I pour sesame oil into a small dropper bottle, but make sure that the tip of the dropper never touches my nose (otherwise it will contaminate the rest of the oil). It will lubricate the nasal passages and give many healing benefits. Make sure to choose plain, natural sesame oil – do not use sesame oil that is sold in the grocery store for Asian cooking. It is recommended to use a small dose of 2 drops in each nostril everyday for maintenance of health and prevention of ailments. For this simply tilt the head back, administer drops into both nostrils, (squeeze nose gently to distribute oil inside nostrils), inhale through the nose deeply, and allow ample time for the oil to penetrate.

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