I remember back to my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, with my first teacher Vishva, when I realized (horrified) that despite my best (manipulative) efforts I would have to try the neti pot. My body-mind went “arg” and “eek” at the same time.
Am I being overly dramatic in my introduction? Maybe, and yet at the time I was freaking out! I had pre-read my entire YTT manual the first night of YTT and when I saw that one of the sections included poring water through my nose. I looked at Glenn and said, “If they make me do that – I’m going to quit this course… No way!”.
The time had come and Vishva was not giving us any way out. I begrudgingly took my neti pot, put in the sea salt, filled the pot with lukewarm water, walked over to the shower and stood there (freaking out on the inside). I took a breath in through my nose, and out through my mouth. I positioned my body into ‘baby chair’ pose, turned my head to the right and inserted the spout of the neti pot into my right (top) nostril… I tilted the pot towards my head and as weird as it felt to have water moving through my head – there it was, poring out through the bottom nostril. I did the other side. It was completely weird.
Vishva smiled and said to me “Inhale Mona”. So I did and OMGoodness I’ve never breathed so well in my whole life! It was my first full and complete breath ever. I was not aware that I had not been able to breathe well until that moment. I was blown away.
I’ve pretty much neti’d regularly ever since, which is well over a decade now. At this point it’s a lot like brushing my teeth – part of my regular cleansing routine. During the dryer seasons I neti every other day AND i oil my nostrils afterwards to keep my nasal passages lubricated (a few drops of sesame oil on my pinky fingers and up my nose it goes). During the mucousy seasons I neti daily. I chose to write about neti this month because as we transition into Spring, the heat will liquify the excess kapha build up from winter and when this happens we get more mucous and congestion. Neti is a wonderful option to move this excess out of the body.
As a result I’ve noticed that I get fewer colds and less congestion, I can breathe more deeply and clearly, I taste more, I smell more (sometimes this is favourable and sometimes not so much). I know some people who were able to reduce their sinus infections through regular use of the neti pot.
I encourage those who are interested to find someone who knows the technique well and to learn from them. There are lots of helpful tips and tricks that can make the experience more enjoyable (and get less water stuck in your nasal passages!). Check with local yoga studios, health food stores, and natural health practitioners (like NDs).
We also need to be aware that there is such a thing as too much neti (nasal irrigation) – this dries out the mucous membranes and can lead to nose bleeds.
This neti photo is awesome – it’s Kathy and I holding up a few different styles of neti pots for your viewing pleasure 😉
Happy Spring, and Happy Breathing!
Mona teaches Ayurvedic Yoga at the Janati Yoga School in Kingston Ontario, where she lives with her wonderful husband, their enthusiastic dog, and ninja kitten. When she’s not teaching, practicing or talking about yoga, you might find her enjoying a good meal, kayaking, climbing a mountain in Ireland, or zip-lining over a forest in Costa Rica, Roatan, or Whistler BC.