Jala Neti: An Ancient Practice For Healthy Sinuses

As yoga continues to increase in popularity, more of its ancient practices, like jala neti, are finding their way into mainstream culture.


Not long ago, the iconic daytime talkshow host, Oprah Winfrey, introduced her audience to the neti pot, a yoga tool used for cleansing the sinuses with water.

It didn’t take long before the supply of these simple little instruments ran dry across North America.

Oprah and her many fans found out what the yogis have known all along; that this simple daily yoga practice has wonderful health benefits.

What is Neti Kriya?

Neti kriya, or nasal cleansing, is one of the shat karmas, or six cleansing actions of the hatha yoga tradition.

This cleansing of the nasopharyngeal tract is commonly done in one of two different ways: with a warm saline solution, known as jala neti; or with a cotton thread, known as sutra neti.

By far, the easier of the two to perform is the jala neti, although it can still take a bit of practice to get used to the sensation of pouring water up your own nose.

Those who have experimented with this practice, however, will attest to its immense benefits, including decongesting of the sinuses and the decrease in frequency, or even elimination altogether, of head colds and sinusitis.

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the pathological inflammation of the air spaces within the bones of the nasal region. When the membranes within these sinus cavities become inflamed, the air passages can become blocked, causing pain and infection.  This condition can bring with it a whole host of related symptoms, such as nasal discharge, fever, headache, fatigue, facial or dental pain, cough and congestion.

The medical approach to treating sinusitis may include antibiotics, decongestants, nasal sprays, and even pain relievers — all of which address the symptoms, none of which address the root cause.

The Scientific Basis for Jala Neti

It should come as no surprise that the prevalence of sinusitis worldwide continues to increase due to growing levels of pollution and urbanization.

In his abstract, “The Scientific Basis for Some Yoga Practices in Sinusitis,” Dr. Ananda Bhavanani says that “hypertonic saline improves mucociliary clearance, thins mucous, and may decrease inflammation.”

This is supported by Dr. Marple, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas, who claims that “saline nasal irrigation is a highly effective, minimally invasive intervention for people suffering from nasal issues.”

Dr. Ananda also indicates that research has revealed saline nasal irrigation, or jala neti, to effectively improve sinus drainage in children, while daily nasal irrigation showed an overall effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of sinusitis in 70% of all patients.

All of this evidence, and yet the medical community as a whole seems largely unaware of this simple, safe, and highly effective prevention and treatment. It’s clear to the yogi, however, that regular practice of neti kriya will help cut down on medication costs and doctor bills and also bring to life a whole new freshness and clarity that comes from washing away encrustations and toxic built up in the sinuses.

To improve health, quality of life, and overall sense of well being, jala neti is a wonderful addition to your daily yoga routine.

For instruction on the proper performance of the neti kriya, click here …

To learn more about the scientific basis of yoga practices in the prevention and cure of sinusitis, read “The Scientific Basis for Some Yoga Practices in Sinusitis”, by Dr. Ananda Bhavanani.

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, www.theyogatutor.com

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