Friday, October 28, 2011

Jala Neti

Today I'm going to write about something you might not necessarily expect from a blog about yoga - my Neti Pot!

I was feeling a little low on inspiration for my entry this week, especially since Tuesday afternoon I started feeling sick toward the end of my work day.  My head had ached all day, but that's not too out of the ordinary for me.  When I started feeling my throat become sore and scratchy, I knew it was the kiss of death, and I needed to start getting proactive with my health before this cold (or whatever it is) gets the better of me.

Marc suggested writing about being sick, how it affects my practice - things of that vein.  It's a good suggestion, but I feel like I always do that when I get sick and I wanted to go a different route this week.  Marc also suggested I use a neti pot to help with my sinuses, and then it struck me - the neti pot comes from Ayurvedic medicine and is a yogic technique for cleansing the body!  It wasn't discovered by modern medicine or bored people who suddenly were struck with the idea to put water through their nose -  it's something that has been around for five thousand years.

Ayurveda, which translates to "knowledge of life"  is the "sister science" of yoga.  Scott Blossom of YogaJournal.com says of Ayurveda, "It's a system of healing that examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe."  You can read the full article here to learn more about the doshas, or three different energies we're made of according to Ayurvedic medicine.

Jala neti is Sanskrit and literally translates to "water cleansing."  It's part of the Panchakarma ("five actions") program for cleansing of the body, mind, and spirit.

Just googling neti pot can provide you with a ton of ways to find and purchase your own.  It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, it just needs to have a spout that can fit in your nose and it needs to hold an adequate amount of water.

Everything's better with a thumbs-up!
To use jala neti, boil some water to make sure it's clean and free of any stray bacteria that may be lurking.  Pour the water into the pot and wait until it's about lukewarm (this could take 20 to 30 minutes - just check with your finger until it is a temperature you think will be comfortable).  From there, you want to add salt.  Plenty of places sell salt packets specifically designed for use in a neti pot, but sea salt works just fine as well.  Holding your head over a sink, put the spout up one nostril and tilt your head pot-side-up.  (The hilarious picture illustrates - it's a pretty tricky thing to try to explain!)  Hold your tongue firm against your throat to keep from swallowing the water (although you'll probably swallow some your first few times) and the water will pour out of your other nostril into the sink.

Jala neti isn't for everyone.  My sister reminded me that as a little girl, I used to despise blowing my nose.  I'd cry and say I couldn't do it and I hated being made to - it just seemed disgusting and wrong.  If this kind of thing makes you squeamish, it may not be for you.  However, my experience so far this week has been amazing.  My cold is still hanging on, but after using the neti 2-3 times a day I can really feel an improvement.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or colds - and as a fellow sick friend said to me recently, Tis the Season! - I highly recommend giving the neti pot a try.  Stick with it a couple times and see if it helps you.  In the meantime, enjoy some hot tea, hot soup, and fuzzy sweaters.  Happy fall!

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