Benefits of Jala-Neti

Jala neti is an ancient Indian yoga technique, meaning literally "water cleansing", where the practitioner rinses out the nasal cavity with salted water using a neti pot. The technique is starting to be recognized by science under the term nasal irrigation.Jala neti, though relatively unknown to western culture, is a common practice in parts of India and other areas in south east asia, performed as routinely as using a toothbrush. It is performed daily usually the first thing in the morning with other cleansing practices.Sometimes it is done more often such as at the end of the day if you work or live in a dusty or polluted environment. When dealing with problems of congestion it can be performed up to 4 times a day and has been shown to speed up the healing process for common colds.

The benefits

Proponents claim that jala neti has numerous benefits including:

  • reduction of allergy problems
  • improvement to breathing
  • elimination of post-nasal drip
  • elimination of sinusitis or chronic sinus infections
  • common colds are either avoided or the duration greatly shortened
  • general improvement to sinus health.
  • In the case that sinus symptoms persist consult a doctor. These are just the health benefits. Yogic breathing practices known as pranayama are greatly enhanced by the practice of jala neti since many of them involve deep breathing through the nostrils.Other benefits practitioners may notice:
  • vision is clearer. Jala neti will actually clean the tear ducts enabling better cleaning and moistening of the eyes.
  • improved sense of smell
  • improved sense of taste
  • deeper more relaxed breathing

Though no research has been done, jala neti may help some people with sleep apnea.

The technique has three stages though usually only stage one is performed. Though a summary is presented here of each stage, it is best to find someone to teach you as there are many subtle aspects that are difficult to describe (such as the exact angles someone's head should be held, which also varies based on which type of neti pot used). Yoga instructors are usually able to do this and if they don't do it themselves they will most likely know someone who does. Most people who have a bad experience did not seek personal instruction.

Stage one

This stage should always be performed whether it is the only stage you do or if you plan to do any of the more advanced stages. Each stage should eventually use about 1/4 litre (8 US fluid ounces) per nostril though a person may have to work up to this.

Over a sink, bathtub, or outdoors on the ground, the head is held with the forehead and chin at roughly the same level facing downward.The spout is then placed in one nostril and then that same nostril is tilted upward and along with the neti pot to begin pouring the water into that nostril.Breathing is continued through the mouth. The water flows down and out the lower nostril (not back towards the throat).Half of the solution is used for each side. If the water flows freely then it can be done in two passes, one for each side. If the water seems to be blocked, switching back and forth several times may be needed. The first time is always a little tricky situation.

Stage two

Stage two should only be performed after a round of stage one. Since stage two washes the deepest parts of the nasal passage, if infections or large obstructions are present in the outer nasal cavity and not cleared by stage one then they could be driven deeper.

Beginners should use stage one only for the first few weeks to make sure they are comfortable with the process and to make sure that major blockages are clear.

This stage involves lightly sniffing the water through each nostril and spitting it out the mouth. It is important not to swallow the water which is why personal guidance is best when learning to do this.

Though this stage is more difficult, it has a much deeper effect. People with chronic sinus infections may not see major improvement until this method is used.

Stage three

Before this stage, a round of both stage one and two is performed. It involves actually taking the water in the mouth and directing it out the nose. Very few yoga instructors know how to do this as it is not seen as necessary as it only has a marginal improvement over the benefits of stage two. At this stage, remember to blow your nose.

After stages are completed

Once jala neti has been performed, it is crucial to eliminate any remaining water from the nose. The techniques may vary but usually involve bending over and breathing quick breaths out the nose in quick repetition. It is important not to close off one nostril or squeeze the nose in any way as this may cause water to be forced into areas that do not dry easily and may cause infection such as in the ear canal. A tissue may be used but is just held lightly surrounding the nose.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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