Breathe Clearer and Live Allergy Free With Nasal Irrigation: Jala Neti


Nasal irrigation (aka nasal lavage or nasal douche) is a method of cleaning the nasal cavities in order to avoid and/or treat allergies, sinus infections, and to generally improve breathing.

Nasal irrigation has existed for at least several thousand years, appearing in the ancient Vedas and remaining a central part of Ayurvedic medicine. It is known as Jala Neti in Sanskrit, and is the first and most essential step for practicing Kriya Yoga due to its ability to clear the nasal breathing passage: the foundation of yoga and meditation. Nasal irrigation is also an essential part of Shatkarma, the yogic system of fully cleansing and purifying the body to make way for proper and advanced meditation and yogic practices.

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Hailed by practitioners all over the world, nasal irrigation has gained incredible prominence in the west over the last decade. Health professionals and daily practitioners agree that it is an effective method for cleaning the nasal passages and breathing easier.

According to Evangeline Lausier, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine and director of clinical services at Duke University’s department of integrative medicine,

I find it to be the first line of defense in dealing with complicated sinus problems and allergy problems, particularly  if you are developing congestion or have a sinus infection, it’s very helpful.

The tool nasal irrigation practitioners use comes in many forms with the most common and basic being a bulb syringe, squeeze bottle, or neti pot. This article will focus on neti pots, as they are the most widely used, and my personal favorite.

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By using a neti pot, nasal irrigation acts as an aid for the cleaning system that is already in place inside your nose.  WebMD explains:

The nasal passages come equipped with tiny, hair-like structures called cilia, which beat back and forth to catch dirt, bacteria, viruses, and other unwelcome substances. The cilia beat and the mucus acts kind of like flypaper, catching spores and particles you inhale. Those particles get pushed down to the back of the throat, where they are swallowed and destroyed by stomach acid.

Nasal irrigation helps thin out the mucus and improve the coordination of the cilia to help them more effectively remove bacteria and other irritants from the sinus passages.

You clean your skin, your hair, your teeth, your tongue, your ears… but not your nose, especially not your nasal cavity.  Our bodies are attacked and foraged by a constant onslaught of bacteria and microbes, and your nose is equipped with a natural filtration system to keep those creepies on the outside.  How many of you have ever seen an air filter last forever?  You need to replace it every so often, right? The same principal applies with your nasal cavity; it must be cleaned.  Have you ever seen an air filter that hasn’t been replaced in a while?  If you’ve never done jala neti, imagine what your nasal cavity must look like!

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For those of you that have concerns, nasal irrigation is a very safe practice. In fact, it is virtually devoid of any complications at all. Studies have shown that even doing it 2-6 times a day is safe and generally side effect free. The Department of Family Medicine, at the University of Wisconsin found that

daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis.

Although it is rare, a very small number of people do note minor nasal irritation, though studies have shown that the irritation is frankly worth it in view of the benefits.

So, how do you practice nasal irrigation? With a neti pot, especially those made by NielMed, it is very cheap and simple. A basic explanation of the process involves placing the spout of the neti pot in one nostril, tilting your head, and allowing a salt water mix to glide into the nostril, through the nasal cavity, and out the other nostril.  Dry yourself, and repeat.  There are details you should make sure to pay attention to, like proper drying techniques and proper salt water mixtures.  Use this explanation on how to practice nasal irrigation safely to ensure everything flows smoothly.

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By the way, if you are interested, there is a more advanced version of jala neti called sutra neti which involves cleaning the nasal cavity with a cord running down your throat that you pull back and forth between your nose and mouth. If you are planning to try out this method, make sure to read this guide from yoga-age and do it safely.

*Important Note* The most important thing to remember is to use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. There have been two cases of deaths linked to nasal irrigation due to unintentionally using tap water that contained a highly fatal amoeba. Please, be smart and use properly treated water. As long as you do that you have nothing to worry about.

You should also ensure that your neti pot is clean and properly dried after each use.  Think of it like any other hygienic tool: if it’s not clean, it can’t properly clean you.

Here’s to better breathing and clearer cavities!



Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

While you’re currently engaged in deciphering the likely liquid-crystal display in front of you, your body (as always) is actively breathing. Your body does this in order to keep you, itself, alive. You breathe in and you breathe out.  What exactly is happening? How do we get energy from the breath?

Every day the average human breathes* anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. There are 525600 minutes (see theater math) in a year and the average human lives somewhere around 62.7 years. So on average that could be anywhere from 395,461,440 to 659,102,400 theater breaths in an entire lifetime. In primitive terms: You breathe an awful lot.

With all of that in-and-ex halation it is easy to take for granted how the system works. When you breathe, oxygen is transferred from outside to inside the body.

“What exactly defines inside and outside?” Is a question that will lead to many a philosophical debate regarding the boundaries of a human. That debate is for another day.

The oxygen is taken through the blood stream to muscles in the body where it is then traded for waste. The waste is deposited in various bodily systems and taken care of from that point on.

Warning: Upcoming Logical Stretch (ULS):
So supposing that you have half of a billion breaths in your life, each time you breathe you have a chance to study and/or refine your breathing. In doing so you just might find out a bit more about yourself.

To return to the Realm of Slightly Less Loose Logic (RSLLL), you really must be careful when examining the way that your involuntary body functions. If you push too hard for knowledge it may end up hurting you.  So take your time and really get a feel for yourself.

Paying attention to your breathing is a proven method in relieving stress. Science and religion alike pay special attention to understanding the way in which we breathe. Breath Prayer is a Christian prayer focus. When you start to drift away from your original intention you actively shift focus back onto the breath (Hmmm… seems like meditation is a fundamental practice).

Science too, believes in the powers of breathing. Breathing to reduce stress is a concept not all that different than Breath Prayer. Stress, in this case, can be viewed as a distraction from your original plan or “prayer.”

When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body.

So in order to train your body out of stress all anybody needs to do is deepen and elongate their breathing. There are many ways to do this seemingly difficult task of breath training. Pranayama, aka yogic breathing, is a good place to start.

…just do what you gotta do…

to be happy.

If you’re interested in learning a whole lot more about yogic techniques A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya is a very thorough book on the topic. It gives in depth explanations of this technique and many others.


Sources: Experiment that you can try…

Quotes taken from Wondergressive admin: Phil

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