With winter now well on its way, the ancient technique of Jala Neti can be a useful yogic tool to ward of the common cold and keep the nasal passages clear at all time! Neti is one of the six classical Kriyas (cleansing practices) mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita, although the technique mentioned by both texts is actually Sutra Neti (done with a cotton thread) rather than the gentler technique of Jala Neti (sometimes called Saline Nasal Irrigation), in which warm salted water is used.

According to both texts, Neti "cleanses the skull, induces clairvoyance and remove diseases that are above the shoulders". It also greatly enhance the olfactory sensitivity. The technique is fairly simple and while specialised shops sale dedicated Neti Pots (see below for a list of sites selling Neti Pots online), a small teapot could do, providing the spout is the right shape, and the author has been using for year, on a daily basis, an empty plastic mustard jar.... Whatever you choose, it should be able to hold about a mug full of water, and you should be able to pour this water down your nostrils without splashing it all over. You will also need some good quality sea salt.

The salt sold in a lot of supermarket is mixed with some anticaking agent which gives it an unpleasant taste (or smell?). Make sure you get good quality, pure sea salt. Once you've got yourself fully kitted out, the 2 points to remember are: You have to put the right amount of salt in the water. This is very important. The water should taste salty, but not overly so. To little or to much salt is extremely uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous (nose bleed). Experiment, and you'll soon know exactly what is the right amount of salt for your Neti Pot.

As a rough guideline, 1/2 teaspoon for a mug of water is about right. The water temperature has to be right (body temperature, or a little cooler). That's easy to check out. One your Neti pot is filled with water at the right temperature and degree of salinity, tilt the head to the side, and pour gently the salted water through the upper nostril. The water will flow around the septum and out through the other nostril. Do not inhale as you are pouring the water through the nose.

Pour half the water through one nostril, then blow your nose vigorously before tilting the head the other way and repeating the operation for the other nostril. The first few times, it is probably better to practice in the shower of bath and have a towel handy, as you might be splashing salty water around.The operation only takes a couple of minutes, is not as uncomfortable as one might imagine at first, and its benefits are such that it is well worth including Jala Neti it your daily routine.

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