Jala (water) + Neti (‘not so’ or to guide)
Jala Neti Definition
Jala neti is a water-cleansing technique that guides water through the nasal passages.
Jala Neti deep dive
What is jala neti?
Jala neti, or jal neti, is a nasal cleansing technique. With the use of a neti pot and either water or a saline solution, the liquid is inserted into one nostril and flows out of the other. The practice helps thin the mucus and flush it out of the nasal passages.
It’s a traditional Ayurvedic and yogic practice.
Just as we brush our teeth as a regular (and hopefully daily) practice of hygiene, many yogis use the practice of jala neti daily to maintain good physical and spiritual health.
The aim of jal neti aims to purify and clean the nasal passage, all the way from the nostrils to the throat, by draining the sinus cavities and washing away bacteria.
In Ayurveda, the five Jnanendriyas (or sense organs – ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose), are not only a key aspect of the way in which we interact with the world around us but also of the ways in which we are able to fully digest our experiences.
Performing rituals or cleansing practices with the Jnanendriyas are an important way of bringing the body back into balance.
The nose is related to Prithvi, the earth element, which is one of the Pancha Mahabhutas (five elements/Tattvas) that make up the whole of our universe.
History of jala neti
Jala neti has been practiced for centuries and can be traced back to ancient yogis in India practicing Shaucha, meaning purity (which is one of the Niyamas).The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lays out 6 purification kriyas called the Shatkarmas. These are recommended to prepare the body and mind for the higher practices of yoga, pranayama, and meditation toward moksha (liberation).
They all contribute to the healthy functioning of the body and work on the basis of ‘prevention is better than cure’, being preemptive in removing toxins or blockages that are disrupting the proper functioning of prana.
Even earlier than the Pradipika, the Vedas also mentioned neti as a critical religious practice for daily life.
Staying disease-free means that yogis can focus on doing the real work – self-actualization – instead of fighting off colds, sicknesses, and diseases.
On a more practical level, it ensures that their airways were clear for the easy practice of pranayama. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, then you’ve obviously never tried to do Kapalbhati with a snotty nose!
Yogic Kriyas (Shatkarmas)
- Neti (cleaning of nasal passages)
- Dhauti (cleansing of digestive tract)
- Basti (cleansing of colon)
- Trataka (candle gazing practice)
- Nauli (abdominal massage)
- Kapalabhati (pranayama technique)
Health benefits of jala neti
In modern times, jal neti is a practice that many people, including non-yogis, use due to its many health benefits. Here are a few of the benefits that the practice is thought to reap:
- A solution to treat congested sinuses, colds, and allergies
- Helps with sleeping and snoring
- Manages tinnitus and middle ear infections
- Beneficial for migraines and headaches
- Improves eyesight
- Improves sense of smell
- Removes excessive heat from the body
- Can relieve asthma symptoms and make breathing easier
- Improves quality of meditation
- Improves focus
jala neti in your life
Before we look at how to practice at home, it’s important to go through a few precautions, especially if you’re not doing this under the supervision of an Ayurvedic professional. Of course, it’s always best to learn this or get advice from an expert practitioner if you can.
1. Dry your nose
Ensure that you dry your nose properly after you’ve used the neti pot and that the water is thoroughly emptied out of your nostrils. If you don’t do this, it could lead to an infection.
2. Regularly clean your neti pot
Clean your neti pot after every practice, especially the part of the pot that you insert into your nose!
3. Use sterile water
You can either boil your water or filter it, but make sure it’s sterile. If it’s not, you could end up causing more harm than good.
Practicing jala neti at home
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A neti pot, a bulb syringe, or a squeeze bottle
- Sterile water or a saline solution
- Sea or Himalayan salt
Now you can:
1. If you aren’t using a pre-made saline solution, add a little salt (about 0.5 tsp) into your sterile water (that’s been filtered or boiled and left to cool). You want the liquid to be lukewarm so it’s most comfortable for you
2. Make sure you are over a sink or pot so the water can drain without making a mess. When you’re ready, tilt the head to one side and start breathing through the mouth. Gently start to pour the water into the upper nostril (the one that is closest to the ceiling)
3. Allow the water to drain out the lower nostril. Repeat on the opposite side
4. Once this is finished, gently blow air out of the nose and allow the nostrils to dry
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