Ancient Secret, Modern PracticeMost of us would never dream of skipping a day of brushing our teeth. For yogis in the know as well as a growing number of people who have seen the practice demonstrated on Oprah, streaming on YouTube, or suggested by their physician, the ritual of neti 'a salt water rinse of the nasal passages and sinuses' is as routine as brushing one's teeth.
Neti involves rinsing the nasal passages with body-salinity salt water with a neti pot, which resembles a small watering can with a small spout to set inside the nostril. It is a ritual with a distinguished pedigree: described in ancient Sanskrit texts on yoga and Ayurveda. In these medical and metaphysical works, neti is suggested for everything from chronic stuffy noses to actually developing intuition, insight and clear perception. Hilary Garivaltis, Ayurvedic practitioner and dean of the school of Ayurveda at the Kripalu Center for Health and Healing in Massachusetts, suggests neti in the months leading up to the time when seasonal allergies can flare. Garivaltis also feels that neti is an important ritual for people who live or work in areas where they are subjected to smog, dust, dirt, or other irritants. If you have had recent surgery or have other considerations, check with your healthcare provider before starting a neti practice.
Carrie Demers, MD, a practitioner at the Himalayan Institute's Center for Health and Healing in Pennsylvania, suggests using 1/4 teaspoon salt for a standard size pot. Sometimes it can be helpful to taste the solution, which should taste like tears and not the ocean. Use salt without additives: no iodine, caking agent or other minerals, as these can be irritants.
Fill the neti pot with salted, filtered, body temperature water and hold your head over the sink with one cheek and nostril facing down with your chin lower than your forehead. Set the spout of the neti pot gently inside your nostril and pour the solution through your nose. Ideally, it will actually flow out your other nostril. The sensation may take some time to become accustomed to and you may need to blow your nose in between. After rinsing both sides, dry your nostrils by lowering your head and exhaling rapidly several times through your nostrils. If your nose gets dry, Demers recommends rubbing a small amount of vegetable oil on the inside of your nostrils. As Demers reports, "Of all the things I prescribe, neti has the highest percentage of success; it is ubiquitously helpful, cheap, and easy, with no side effects."
Neti Pots & AccessoriesHimalayan Institute Neti Pot Starter Kit
Lotus Brands Nasal Cleansing Pot
Yogi's Nose Buddy
Peaceful Company Neti Pot, Wash, and Salt
NeilMed Sinus Rinse Nasal Wash & Neti Pot
SinuCleanse Starter Kit
SinuOrega Nasal Wash