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Neti Practice for Sinus Relief and More

Updated on April 6, 2018
Jewels profile image

Julie has been undertaking spiritual work for 18 years and imparts her knowledge of meditation and inner experiences through her writing.

Neti, is becoming a popular practice for people susceptible to sinus ailments like hayfever, blocked noses and excess mucus in and around the nasal passages. Not only for the hard nosed sufferer (excuse the pun), neti, or nasal irrigation, is great as a general maintenance technique for anyone wanting good general health.

Have you had the experience of gunked up nasal passages after mowing the lawn or doing heavy duty cleaning in a dusty environment? Do you have trouble getting the smell of second hand cigarette smoke or strong perfumes out of your nose? You’ll probably have experienced that it’s sometimes not enough to just blow the nose to clear it out. Neti may be what you need.

Neti is an ancient practice and the topic can be found in Sanskrit treatises of Hatha-yoga.  It’s one of many inner purification techniques undertaken by meditators/spiritual seekers to maximize their inner experiences.  In addition to unblocking and clearing on the physical, this technique works on subtle levels as it purifies all the channels of energy in the neck and the head.  The practice also has a direct and remarkable action on the awakening of the third eye.

Traditionally neti is performed with a long-beaked pot called a lota. You fill it with salt water, bend your head to one side, place the beak to the nostril on the other side and allow the water to flow through one nostril and the water falls out through the other. It’s then repeated with your head bent the other side.

Personally I like to use a quicker method.  All you need is an ordinary bowl without a lip, or a mug.  Fill it with lukewarm water which is about the same temperature as the inside of your mouth.  Use clean purified water (boiled).  Add quarter to half a teaspoon of rock salt or sea salt.  Do not use fine grained table salt which will irritate the nose.  What you’re after with the salt is the osmosis effect.  You’re not after salty water as a cleanser.  You want to neutralize the water.  You may take a few goes to get your salt to water ratio right for you.

Now with your bowl of water, put your nose in the water.  Start ‘drinking’ the salt water through your nostrils:  draw the water through the nose and let it spill out through the mouth.  The water goes straight from the nasal cavity into the mouth and gets expelled from there.  Make sure you are not drinking up air with the water as this is uncomfortable.  I promise you won’t drown.  You don’t swallow the water and you’ll find that it is a natural action to drink it through the nostrils and expel through the mouth.  Doing both nostrils at once for me is a more balanced approach to neti.  The flow of water is much more efficient and the unblocking was much quicker than with the lota.

This whole neti process is quick. You could make it part of your morning rituals – get out of bed, make the coffee, make your mixture, go to the shower and as part of your cleaning process, do neti. It works well as part of the shower regime. Alternatively use the laundry basin, or the backyard works.  Wherever you feel comfortable.

A marked effect of neti is the awakening and refreshing feeling it gives. The best way of getting maximum effects of neti is to go through a long phase of doing it – say daily for 6 to 9 months. Afterwards do it as a maintenance tool, whenever you feel the need. Interesting how you can tell the difference and know when you need or want to resume the practice.

The first time you use neti you may find it a little painful. It could be that your passages are quite blocked or the mixture is too salty. It’s not uncommon to expel a bit of blood the first few times either so don’t be too alarmed. If this bleeding persists, cease the practice and consult a practitioner in case there is an underlying condition causing the bleeding.

And there are two ways of drying the nose. You can take the conventional method of a tissue or handkerchief.

The following method gives a much more awakening effect:

Stand with your legs apart and half-bent. Rest your arms on your knees.

Without moving your trunk, throw the head upwards and backwards, exhaling violently through the nose at the same time, like you are snorting (yes, it’s a personal experience!) This is done in about half a second, after which a normal inhalation follows.

Then after half a second of motionlessness, quickly project the head downwards, while strongly blowing the air out of your nose. Inhale normally.

Then project the head upwards again, while vigorously blowing the air out. Inhale normally.

Continue this for half a minute or so, blowing the air out and throwing your head up and down alternately.

Then repeat the process, but this time turn the head once to the right and once to the left.

Blow the air out of your nostrils vigorously each time you throw the head to the side.

So there you have it. A new skill to be mastered and many benefits to be had.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      19 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I had never heard of using a bowl such as you just described verses using the Neti pot. Interesting and nice for people to have a choice. I can attest to the value of the saline cleanse. As you just read in my article, it can work wonders if a person has a sinus infection. In my personal experience it can work just as fast as antibiotics in clearing an infection.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      3 years ago from Australia

      I used to use a neti pot but unfortunately when I put the solution through one nostril the other would block up. When using the bowl method the flow is equal, balanced and the flow is much much easier. It is good that the solution goes to the back of the nostrils and to the upper throat and out the mouth where the solution can clean more than just the nasal passages. It cleans the entire sinus - ear nose and throat area. If you are a regular user the solution is usually clean and clear.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I think I will stick with my neti pot. Not sure if I would like the solution coming out of my mouth! Thank you for the tips though!

    • searchinsany profile image

      Alexander Gibb 

      4 years ago from UK

      Thank you, I really appreciate your research and advice. I will continue with sea salt only in future.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      4 years ago from Australia

      The ancient technique calls for salt. I've delved further into the use of bi-carb, and been advised that the process is strictly sea salt or high grade salt to create the osmosis effect.

      It's true that there are now 101 uses for bi-carb and it's been touted as the miracle chemical. Yet long term use is not known. Getting the ph balance right in our bodies is good, yet acid also has it's role. Similarly with the nasal passage. Some bacteria is good so ridding our bodies of it all will have a detrimental effect.

      The salt does the job of cleansing. It's only when there is too much salt that a burning sensation is felt which can be uncomfortable. You can purchase a device that measures salt to water ratios to achieve the osmosis. But it doesn't take long to know what is the right mixture for you without the need for the device.

    • searchinsany profile image

      Alexander Gibb 

      4 years ago from UK

      This Hub is very well presented and provides sound advice. I have used this technique for several years, but didn't know it was called Neti. We learn something new everyday, especially on HubPages.

      Being advised to add a pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda, I include this with sea salt. Have you heard of this and what is your advice?

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      5 years ago from Australia

      Glad you found it useful. The bowl method is much faster and more effective. I used to use the pot but in the early stages as I cleared up one side, the other blocked up. When I learned the bowl method I never went back to the pot. It does both sides equally and effectively. Hope you give it a try.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I just started using a neti pot (doctor sanctioned to clear things up in there) and I love it!! I wish I had started earlier, maybe my nose and head would never have become so clogged. Voted up and useful.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you Jewels - very informative hub

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 

      7 years ago

      Fantastic. Thanks for the follow-up.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      The proportion of salt to water is usually a hit and miss proposition. Less is better than more as you can understand. It's an osmosis effect you're after, it's not saline water as such that you are cleansing with. What works for me is a cup of water (say 250mls) and a normal pinch of rock salt. A normal pinch of rock salt for me measures around a 1/3rd of a teaspoon. Hope that helps Debby.

      Even if you don't get blocked sinuses, this practice is great for around the eyes and throat, and a clear head in general.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 

      7 years ago

      Awesome hubpages. I have a neti, but hardly use it. I don't often get blocked sinuses. However, seems interesting to try the 'bowl' technique. My question is the exact proportion of salt to water so the membranes do not get burned. You answered my question regarding the 'sea or rock salt' as preferable to table salt. Blessings, Debby

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Glad you came and shared your neighborly experiences SG.

    • profile image

      SG 

      7 years ago

      I have used the bowl method daily for years. I find it much more powerful and effective than the pot.

      Done in the morning, helps to clear out sleepiness and any sign of allergies/cold symptoms, leaving me feeling fresh, awake and ready to tackle my day.

      In response to burning bush, while I often do neti in the shower, I have been known to do it in my yard because it feels so nice and free outside. I am sure my neighbors get a good laugh!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Hi Micky Dee, I hope it helps your friend.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Dang it! It was you that had the neti hub! I meant to send this to a friend who missed cycling most of the summer because of allergies. Okay -bookmark! I have half-himers.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      hahahaha. I agree with you burning bush. It's not a practice to do in public unless you are free of certain inhibitions!

      And by all means have a go and report back. ^-^ I'd love to hear how you go with neti.

    • burning bush profile image

      burning bush 

      7 years ago

      Jewels, while I would not argue the benefits of Neti, I cannot help but think if one did this in view of an uncovered window, the neighbours would surely think you had finally gone over the top. You should add a, "best done in private", warning at the bottom of your instructions. Sorry, couldn't help but see the humour. I may try it though, behind closed doors. :)

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Great to hear from you AmaniT, and glad you shared your experiences of Neti.

    • profile image

      AmaniT 

      7 years ago from Sydney

      I've actually tried the neti technique you outline in your article, and I found it works incredibly well. If you do it first thing in the morning it gives such a clarity to the meditation practice that follows.

      I live out in the country, and it's the best way to get outside dust and dirt out of my head - helps me to think clearly in the evenings too. Good stuff!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Pam, but the bowl or mug works just as well. I'm hoping people will try it and let me know how they go.

    • profile image

      pam 

      7 years ago

      Hi Julie,

      Great hub. I've heard of these little pots. Hope some people buy them from your article! :)

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