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Jala Neti, Nasal Irrigation

3 Feb 2016   Shanti Gowans
What is Neti?

Jala Neti means 'water cleansing' and is one of the shat kriyas or 'six purification practices' common to yoga. 

Neti in the form of saline nasal irrigation therapy, and nasya have been used by practitioners of Yoga and Ayurveda in India for thousands of years to relieve sinus and nasal congestion, infections, post nasal drip and headaches.  

Using a Neti pot and Nasya are traditional methods to purify and revitalise the breathing passages. In a similar way that massage nourishes and rejuvenates the skin, Neti and Nasya nourish and rejuvenate the breathing passages. This process can reduce allergies and decrease your chances of contracting upper respiratory infections.  It is also useful before taking a plane flight to keep your breathing passages moist. 

The practice is easy and millions of people in India and East Asia do it every morning, much like we brush our teeth. For people suffering from a sinus condition, repeated daily practice as needed, up to four times a day is often recommended.

Why do neti?

Being happy, exercising, a clean, natural diet, and adequate sleep are a few of the more obvious ways to maintain your health. Your senses are another vital pathway to a healthy body.

Nasal passages are the first line of defense against pollution, allergens, and other irritants; it’s important to keep them clean and functioning well. A nasal rinse, also known as nasal irrigation, is an effective way to flush out mucus and toxins and keep your sinus passages healthy.      

When you breathe in allergens, pollution, and other forms of irritation, mucus production can increase, setting the stage for congestion and infection. By performing a nasal rinse before this has a chance to occur, you can prevent and relieve symptoms that accompany sinus infections, common colds, and other illnesses. Flushing mucus and other particles out can help to thin out excess mucus, open up your nasal passages, and reduce inflammation of the mucus membrane, which swells when aggravated.

Stuffy heads and runny noses can make you miserable during the colder months of the year. Additionally, central heating, fireplaces or windy weather often dries out the sinuses. Jala Neti the practice of nasal irrigation can make all the symptoms much easier to bear. It is a great way to soothe sore passages and clean out stuff that you don't want or need. 

Benefits of Doing Neti

Neti is an all-natural therapy that offers a number of benefits. It can help:

  • Clear nostrils for improved (easier) breathing and helps with pranayama
  • Reduce snoring
  • Reduce nasal dryness
  • Reduce, even eliminate, chronic sinus infections
  • Alleviate facial pain and pressure and ease sinus headaches
  • Relieve allergy symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose
  • Improve the sense of smell and taste
  • Prevent the common cold and other upper respiratory infections
  • Allows for deeper breathing
  • Common colds are either avoided or shortened
  • Reduce the need for medications such as antibiotics and decongestants
  • Reduction of or elimination of post-nasal drip

Recent studies support the use of nasal irrigation to relieve sinus symptoms. A study performed by the University of Wisconsin looked at whether or not saline nasal irrigation would improve sinus symptoms and quality of life, and decrease medication use in adults with a medical history of sinusitis. Subjects used a saline solution combined with baking soda every day for six months to irrigate the nose. The results showed a decrease in sinus symptoms, an increase in sinus-related quality of life, and a decrease in medication use for frequent sufferers of sinusitis.

A separate study through the University of Wisconsin found that 87 percent of family doctors who participated in an electronic questionnaire recommended saline nasal irrigation to their patients suffering from upper respiratory conditions such as chronic rhinosinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, and viral upper respiratory infections.

In addition to helping adults, this treatment has also proven effective for children. Research shows children with seasonal allergies who perform saline nasal irrigation and take antihistamine medication are more likely to experience a reduction in symptoms than children who only take medication. Additionally, it found that children using the neti pot were able to decrease their use of antihistamine medication.

What Is a Neti Pot?

The neti pot, a traditional yoga cleansing container that dates back thousands of years, helps many allergy and sinus sufferers who are turning to it as an alternative to over-the-counter medication, which can carry unpleasant side effects. Using a neti pot is quick, simple, and cost effective, and perhaps most importantly, it can raise the body’s defenses against illness.

A Neti pot is a small container, like a teapot, with a longer, tapered spout, which can be gently placed into your nose, through which warm, salt water is administered through your nostrils. They often resemble the magic lamp from the story of Aladdin. Neti pots are usually constructed from a ceramic material, traditionally from copper, silver, gold or stainless steel, and even made from plastic which make it light weight for travellers. Neti pots are typically sold in yoga centres, health food shops, and you can order from us online.

The pot is filled with saline solution and then poured into the nostril. The solution flows through the nasal passage, flushes out excess mucus and accumulated debris, and exits through the other nostril. The same process is then done to the opposite nostril.

The amount of salt you use is critical. Burning the tissues of nasal passages with too much salt is as painful, or more, as using no salt.  1/2 teaspoon per two cups of comfortably warm (your body temperature) water seems perfect for most people. Personal experimentation will reveal the right temperature and salinity for you.

Using your Neti Pot

• Rinse the pot each time before use, and then add the warm water into the pot, and mix the warm water and salt thoroughly.
• Lean over a sink and tilt your head sideways above the sink, at about a 45-degree angle.
• Insert the tapered spout of the Neti pot into your upper nostril and begin to breathe quietly through your mouth.
• Some practitioners also sniff a bit of water into their sinuses and let it pass out the mouth while practicing.
• Tilt the pot up slightly so that the warm, saline solution flows through the upper nostril and out of the lower nostril into the sink.
• Expel any remaining liquid in your nasal passages and then repeat the process on the other side.
• Keep a tissue or handkercheif handy for blowing your nose after practice.


• Sometimes when one side is very congested, the flow will be blocked in one or the other direction. Repeated practice on the 'good side' will often remove the blockage.

• If you have a lot of congestion and the water is creating painful pressure, 'milk' your pallete by stroking it with your tongue front to back. This should help release the block.

• If solution runs down into your throat, simply spit it out, and blow your nose to get rid of any mucus and excess solution.  

Important Tips for Using a Neti Pot

  • Always wash your hands before using a neti pot.
  • Use the purest water possible: sterile, distilled, filtered, bottled, or cooled after boiled water.
  • To avoid stinging, use non-iodized salt and make sure it is completely dissolved.
  • Clean the neti pot thoroughly after each use with distilled or filtered water, then dry completely.
  • Store your neti pot upside down to avoid any moisture remaining inside.
  • Use daily while suffering from symptoms.

Side Effects

Mild side effects such as nasal irritation occur in a small percentage of regular users. Discontinue use if symptoms worsen.

Users with a history of nosebleeds may want to avoid nasal irrigation. 

Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

Purchase Online

Neti Pot - Nasal saline wash. Purify and revitalise your breathing with this yogic healing practice.

Anu Taila - for Nasya: Traditional Ayurvedic cold and allergy remedy



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Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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