Ayurveda is the sister scientific practice to hatha yoga. The science of keeping the life force at its optimal levels with natural tune-ups. Ayurveda is an intricate mandala (complete circle) of healing practices that braid together and form a potent synergy of rejuvenation and rebirth. Existing in our body, as well as, in all living organisms are the five elements organized in a particular pattern known as the doshas. (See the earlier post about how to learn about your Dosha- August 5th.) There are three main doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha and they relate to: air, fire and water principles. Ayurveda is a natural science that causes no harm and is used to uplift our own healing powers. The human body like all living organisms maintains a delicate homeostasis. This science of ayurveda is a process of balancing the doshas from effects of disease in a systematic act of cajoling, tempering, shocking and nurturing the body. In ayurveda excesses are never forcibly removed. An intricate weave of knowledge about the seasonal effects on the tissues, the precise time the dosha changes, the overall condition of the person, which phase of the moon is present, as well as the signals from nature all contribute to the findings of one’s constitution: well-being or lack of well-being. The mandala or full spectrum of practices may include: yoga postures, pranayama, Kriya/meditation, cleansing kriyas and healing treatments, and diet. This mandala (all-inclusive circle) of regimen followed with regularity and in conformance with nature (seasons, etc.) will not only restore health but allow us to live life at optimal levels. When practicing yoga on a regular basis, meaning that some continuity of the sadhana is maintained daily (pranayama, Kriya and/or asana) we then are able to claim our inherent birthright. Hence: Neti!!!
Jala Neti is the classical term for what is now called Neti pot use (as Oprah made so many aware and willing to try this safe nasal irrigation practice. For years I tried to get students to use the neti practice and was looked at like a Martian – I am grateful for Oprah using her celebrity for health benefits.) It is a vessel that is filled with warm water used to wash/irrigate the nasal passages. There are plastic, ceramic and metal products on the market. One can even use a plastic water bottle. I prefer the ceramic as it can be boiled on the stove easily without any harmful particles breaking down like with plastic. On YouTube there are hundreds of how-to videos to see how to use the neti pot. I recommend starting with barely warm water only. Standing over the bathroom sink hold your head on an angle so that as you pass the water into one nostril a stream will flow out of the opposite nostril. And reverse for the other side. Sometimes it may feel like a big relief if a blockage is cleared, sometimes it may be shocking and tears may flow. The benefits are too many and I will list a few here but no matter what your first experience do try to stick with it as it gets better every time. Those with structural blockage and regular nose bleeds should not attempt this practice.
Benefits of Neti cleansing are many and include the following. Removal of mucus and pollution from nasal passages and sinuses which allows air to flow without obstructions. It helps prevent and manage respiratory tract diseases such as: asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and pulmonary tuberculosis. It helps to relieve allergies, colds and sinusitis. Various disorders of the eyes, ears, throat, hay fever, tonsillitis and inflammation of the adenoids and mucus membranes. Neti cleansing relieves muscular tension of the face, nervous ticks, and Bell’s palsy and helps the user to maintain a youthful facial appearance. It has a cooling and soothing effect on the brain and useful for those who suffer from epilepsy and migraines. It alleviates anxiety, anger and depression, removes drowsiness and makes the head feel fresh. Neti stimulates the various nerve endings in the nose, improving the activities of the brain. A balance is achieved between the right and left nostrils as well as the right and left brain hemispheres. This brings a state of harmony and balance throughout the entire body including circulation and digestion systems especially. It helps to awaken the third eye area for higher powers of intuition. Note that with regular daily use will bring about the effects stated above, do know that a one time process cannot affect changes so easily.
Now for some specifics on the neti practice. Remember to pick a pot that will not contaminate the water which is used for nasal irrigation. But I do recommend that one try with a plastic water bottle or small tea-pot before making any purchases. The Himalayan Institute has a kit that can be purchased online. I like the ceramic pots sold by Sinus Support.com (Baraka), as these are like art work – pottery with beautiful colors and the aperture is correct for the nose opening (I have purchased these for family and friends.) Some health food stores sell products made in China that don’t fit at all….they should have gone to the source India!!! (Once I was visiting a friend in Paris and they took me over to an artist’s home, while there I used their bathroom and was so impressed to see a pure silver neti pot above the sink!!! Of course I asked about it and they said when they were having some custom jewelry crafted in India they had this pot custom-made.)
Next thing is to place in your vessel warm water that is comfortable for your body temperature. After some time of regular use with only warm water then salt may be introduced. A special salt, not table salt, as it has to be fine enough to be absorbed into the fluid. For this one must purchase online or in a health store. The amount must be found that will ensure the proper osmotic balance to the body’s fluids so to minimize any irritation to the membranes. If any painful or burning sensation is felt the amount needs adjusting. Keep the mouth open while doing the cleansing and hold the head to one side as mentioned above. No force should be used. Just try to do a little for one side and reverse and take breaks in between, sit down, rest, blow your nose and continue again. It’s best to do this first thing after rising in the morning. It may be practiced twice or three times daily. Try not to practice directly after meals. If I notice any congestion beginning or I have been around any germs I want to stay clear of I may do three sets: water only, then salt and thirdly with a product called Vacho Veda (a Himalayan Institute product available online and in stores). For those who are yoga teachers, healers, healing therapists who have contact with others energies this is a good clearing tool so that you may stay free and clear, keeping your healing powers untainted and at a high level. I started my Autumn seasonal regimen today with Jala Neti and will add a few other components in the next few days. There are many other things that could be written and shared here about the Neti practice but I thought I would start with this, please do share your experiences and comments here. Do feel free to share this with family and friends so we may keep more folks free of unnecessary illness and discomfort. Namaskaram