Yogic Technique to Beat the Cold and Pollution (Jal Neti)

by  Shruti Bakshi

Winter is the time of the year when nature is in slow-down mode. Our body being part of nature, also feels more lethargic, its functioning is slower and it craves more rest. While it’s a great opportunity to sync with nature and slow down our activities and our mind, perhaps spending more time in silence at this time of the year, our modern lifestyles don’t always allow us all the time we would like. We still have to carry out our daily activities, jobs, etc. For many of us this creates a strain and the body begins to suffer from all kinds of little troubles, very commonly, the cold and flu.

The ancient yogic technique of Jal Neti is a wonderfully simple and natural way of keeping the nasal passages and sinuses free of congestion and the respiratory tract clean and healthy, thus reducing the chances of being laid up in bed with the flu.

It also serves another important purpose – clearing the nasal passages of polluting particles. Most modern cities are very polluted and the quality of air that we breathe is regrettable, if not downright worrying. If you happen to live in a place like Delhi for instance, air is not an invisible element for you and that’s not something to be happy about….! If like me you’ve been worried about the quality of air you breathe, then the Jal Neti is a simple and inexpensive way of tackling the issue to a large extent. It really is a God-send for smoggy winters!

Even the New York Times has been crowing about Jal Neti for years (see here and here for instance).

Jal Neti

Jal Neti is an ancient yogic nasal cleansing technique (kriya) that takes only about 10 minutes a day to carry out. It is part of the six cleansing techniques (shat kriyas) in the yogic system.

Benefits:

  • Cleanses the nasal passages and sinuses of mucous, thereby aiding breathing, making pranayama more effective and contributing to a healthy and strong respiratory tract
  • Helps keep out pollutants from the respiratory system
  • Prevents colds and flus
  • Relieves migraines and even asthma
  • Reduces indigence of allergies and irritation from pollen
  • Unlike nasal sprays and pills, there are no side-effects and it is fully natural

What you need:

  • Jal Neti pot (available online). Copper is a good option (water kept in a copper vessel is said to become energised in a positive way) although expensive. Plastic neti pots are a cheaper option and do the trick just fine.

  • Lukewarm water in which some salt is dissolved. Make sure the salt is pure/good quality (e.g. Himalayan rock salt or sendha namak). For one session, you can use a solution of 2 neti pot- fulls of lukewarm water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Ensure the water is not too warm as the nasal passage is quite sensitive.

The technique is very simple but may take a little getting used to at first.

I use my plastic pot from the Sivananda ashram TTC

How to do it

Stand over a basin/sink. Keep some tissues handy. Fill the neti pot with the saline solution. Starting with the right nostril, keep your head bent over the basin, tilted slightly to the left. Make sure to keep your mouth open for breathing because you will not be able to breath through your nose during the jal neti process (you can try but will find water entering your throat and nose, much like being dunked unexpectedly into a swimming pool!).

Slowly let the water enter the right nostril and exit through the left. This will take some time to get right (usually you get the hang of it by the end of the first session). You will need to adjust the position of your head to be able to get the flow right (tilt it further back or more to the left side for e.g.).

Note that if your nasal passages/sinuses are blocked, the water may not flow out easily through the left nostril. Be patient and in time it will happen more smoothly.

Keep relieving yourself of the mucous that comes out during the process by blowing your nose as often as necessary. This will help clear out the sinuses.

Use one entire neti pot-full for the nostril. Repeat with the left nostril. Ensure that all saline water has been blown out of the nose when you finish.

The Jal Neti can be performed everyday. Morning time, before eating meals would be best. Keep the pot clean and dry after use to prevent growth of bacteria.

Caution: if the sinuses are heavily blocked/congested, do not try Jal Neti – you likely need medical treatment. Jal Neti is best used a preventive ritual and for maintaining everyday health and immunity.

 

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Shruti Bakshi
Shruti Bakshi is the founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked in international finance for several years and is a certified Hatha yoga instructor.
Books by Shruti:
From Dior to Dharma Yoga, Work & Life

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