Are you familiar with nasal-irrigation, also known in Ayurveda as neti, and its sister practice of nasal-oiling known as, nasya? These are great home-practices to have on hand as we move from the hot pitta season into the more cold and dry vata season. These practices can be especially beneficial if you are prone to colds and allergies.
Neti is one of the six purification techniques recommended in the practice of shatkarma in Hatha Yoga. These practices help to cleanse and strengthen the body to prepare for yoga & working towards moksha (liberation.) Neti is the practice of irrigating the sinus cavity using a small amount of salt in warm water. Traditionally this is done in a ceramic pot with a long spout; know as a neti pot.
Keeping our nasal passages clear & healthy has extended benefits for the whole body. Neti helps to balance the autonomic nervous system, which allows for deeper states of meditation, as well as rest, & digestion. Neti also has benefits for those who are headache & allergy sufferers and can help to clear the mind when we are feeling weighted down by our thoughts.
To practice neti you will need; sea salt, a neti-pot, and warm filtered water. Add about a teaspoon of salt to your neti-pot, fill with warm water & swirl to dissolve the salt. Stand over the sink, tilt your head, & place the spout into one nostril, breathing out of your mouth. Allow the water to flow into that nostril and out the other side. Repeat on the other nostril. Blow your nose if necessary and gargle with a little salt water when you’re done.
The practice can feel a little awkward at first but you will soon get used to the sensation & feel the benefits! If using your neti is painful or creates a burning sensation, reduce the amount of salt you’re using. Doing neti in the shower with the hot water already running around you is a wonderful way to incorporate nasal-irrigation into your self-care routine. Aim for using your neti-pot one to three times per week, up to once per day!
Nasya is a complimentary practice to neti, which involves oiling the inside of the nasal passageways. Our sinus’ can become dry from heat used indoors in the cold months, and this practice feels so soothing and supportive. You may purchase a herbal oil that is specifically formulated for nasya practice, or you can use what you have at home; ghee, sesame oil, or even olive oil can do the trick.
Place a small amount of oil in the palm of one of your hands, dip your opposite pinkie finger into the oil & work it into each nostril giving each side a little massage. If you need to, add more oil to the pinkie finger before switching nostrils. Try doing this nasya practice at least once per day, it’s such a supportive practice for the dry, cold months.
Let us know if you try incorporating neti or nasya into your daily practices, & be well!~