Nasal cleansing ~ Neti or Nasya?

Most Yoga practitioners would have certainly come across the cleansing practice of Neti during their Yogic studies and travels, but what about a similar Ayurvedic practice called Nasya?

First let’s look at Neti.

Jala Neti is a body cleansing technique used in Yoga where one places warm salted water in a Neti pot and it is poured into one nostril so that it leaves through the other.

The reason it has been an important practice in Yoga for thousands of years is because it has many health benefits. Since we use the nose to filter our breath, we bring in with it various particles which can irritate the nasal passages. Subsequently if not cleansed, can lead to sinus and respiratory problems.

Benefits of Neti

  • cleans out dust and other irritants from the nose and sinuses
  • provides relief for those suffering from nasal dryness as salt is known to bring moisture into the body, however the regular use of salted water could be drying to the nasal passages – Nasya would work better in this case (see below)
  • maintains balance of excess Kapha (mucus accumulation and congestion) in the nasal passages
  • aids in supporting a healthy respiratory system
  • especially recommended for people suffering from chronic respiratory congestion, frequent colds and sinus problems (discuss this with your doctor)
  • keeps the head clear for practices such as Pranayama (breathing exercises) and Meditation

How to do Neti

  1. Put one teaspoon of salt in your Neti pot (ceramic or glass is best) with warm sterile water (such as boiled or distilled) and stir until the salt is dissolved
  2. Leaning over a sink or shower, place the spout of the Neti pot in one nostril and tilt your head to one side so that the water begins to enter into the nose
  3. The water moves through the nasal passages cleansing them until it leaves through the other nostril (this is an unusual sensation until one gets used to it!)
  4. Repeat this process on the other side
  5. To dry out the nasal passages one should do some rapid breathing

So what is Nasya then?

Nasya is more known in the Ayurveda world and has similar benefits to Neti, but so much more than you would expect also! It is classed as a Dinacharya, part of one’s daily routine for maintaining the various health benefits below.

Benefits of Nasya

  • balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha
  • provides relief for those suffering from nasal dryness as the oil nourishes the nasal passages
  • cleanses excess bodily fluids accumulated in the nose, sinuses, throat and head which lead to congestion, colds and sinus problems
  • helps to ease mental fatigue and relieves migraines
  • stabilises the pituitary and pineal glands
  • supports clarity of perception and intuition
  • stimulates memory as well as cerebral circulation
  • restores and balances prana in the body
  • balances hormonal function
  • reduces snoring

How to do Nasya

  1. Anu oil (medicated nasal oil) or other Nasya oil is warmed in a cup of hot water to a temperature suitable for taking internally – luke warm is best
  2. Lie down in a comfortable position with your head tilted back and supported
  3. Place 1-3 drops of warm Nasya oil in each nostril
  4. With both hands massage up the sides of the nose and around the eyes to help the oil coat and move through all the nasal passages
  5. If you can, take a big sniff in to allow the oil to move deeper into the head
  6. Stay in a rested position for a few minutes to allow the oil to penetrate further
  7. If one has some oil accumulating in the throat, it is best to spit this out – do not swallow it
  8. You may also feel a little irritation in the nose, a slight burning or even want to sneeze – this is perfectly normal as the Nasya oil is doing its cleansing work – this will pass
  9. Do not blow your nose after performing Nasya
  10. Nasya oil can be administered daily or as needed and the number of drops can be slowly increased over time

So there is quite a difference between these two practices – Neti is obviously great for those who suffer from chronic congestion and is definitely a favourite amongst yogis, but Nasya can also do the same plus more providing nourishment to the nasal passages as well. The choice is yours!

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