When I was first told about the Neti pot, I thought my yoga instructor was completely out of her mind. Deliberately pour water up my nose? Hasn’t that been legally defined as torture? But I was seven months pregnant with a painful sinus infection and wasn’t allowed to take any serious decongestant drugs. In short, I was desperate.
So off I went to the local health food store to get my very first Neti pot. I chose a ceramic one that looked like a cute little tea pot, and brought it home to give it a try. I filled the pot with lukewarm water, added the all-important half-teaspoon of salt, took a deep breath, and leaned over the kitchen sink to pour saline solution in one nostril and out the other. Immediately my head began to fill with water just as it does when a wave catches you by surprise at the beach. It startled me, but since I had control of the flow, I didn’t panic. Slowly the water began to dribble out the other nostril. I was doing it! I had success! I didn’t drown! Then a big chunk of mucus wormed its way out of my nostril and I gagged, stopping to put the pot down on the counter. Gross!
Even though this was of course the goal of the whole endeavor – to get out the ‘stuff’ from my sinuses – seeing it actually work its magic was going to take a moment to get used to. Like the yanking of wisdom teeth from one’s jaw, medicinal practices of any kind always have a hint of the barbaric. But once I’d caught my breath, resumed my Neti mission and finished the whole pot of water, I did feel noticeably better. I stood up, and water rushed from my head down to my nose, out of both nostrils, spilling onto the floor. I made a mental note for next time: keep tissues nearby. I followed through with the other side, and lo and behold, for the first time in three days, the aching in my cheekbones disappeared. I still felt congested, but something had definitely been moved for the better. I was hooked.
The term Neti pot derives from “Jala neti,” an ancient Hindi term for Ayurveda / yoga practice, Ayurveda meaning “the complete knowledge for long life” in Sanskrit. These techniques are focused on bringing the essential body elements into balance, thus the need for eliminating excess mucus and phlegm from the nasal passages. A number of Ayurvedic techniques are recommended before practicing yoga.
The saline solution in the Neti pot travels over the ‘cilia’ (tiny nose hairs) aiding in moving mucus through the nasal passages more easily, and removing blockages and crusts along the way. The salty water thins out the mucus and washes through the sinus cavities, taking with it any foreign allergens or pollen, and even maintaining the effectiveness of the little hairs themselves, whose job it is to move mucus either down the throat, or out the nostrils.
There are dozens of Neti pot demonstrations on youtube.com and all over the Internet, but basically you place the business end of the tea pot into one nostril, place your head at least a 45 degree angle and let the water flow through your sinuses and out the other nostril. Then you repeat the process for the other side. If your passages are very blocked, you may need to stop several times to blow your nose in between, and allow the water to find a clear route. Certainly you will want tissues nearby at the end of flushing each side.
Tips From Experience
Personal preferences will vary when it comes to the temperature of the water, the amount of salt, and the angle of the head. I’ve been using the Neti pot for three years now, and I’ve found that I like the water a lot warmer than the lukewarm temperature suggested in the instructions, and I also prefer twice the salt they recommend. When there isn’t enough salt, it stings the nasal passages unnecessarily. Also I find that I tilt my head quite a bit farther than the recommended 45 degrees in order to get gravity to do its job, but this will vary from person to person. Finally, I keep paper towel handy for the final ‘blow’ at the end of a Neti session, as I find tissues are too thin to absorb the amount of water that flows out.
Whether you suffer from chronic sinus pain or seasonal allergies, the Neti pot may be the remedy you’re looking for. Because its gentle cleansing technique is completely safe, non-toxic and self-administered, you certainly have nothing to lose, except an excess of mucus. Enjoy!
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Rhonda M Farrah MA, DRWA
Rhonda M. Farrah M.A., DRWA Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, and Spiritual Teacher is dedicated to the practice of Health & Wellness Empowerment, assisting individuals in developing life strategies to help them help themselves. Rhonda’s Health & Wellness Empowerment Coaching includes programs that allow us to become as healthy, fit and trim…in body, mind and spirit…as we choose to be. Rhonda advocates all Wellness…Personal, Physical, Environmental, & Financial Wellness…NOW!
Rhonda M. Farrah, MA, DRWA
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