wholesome health advice

Seven paths and 20,000 breaths

The neti pot story and why this nasal irrigation is valuable health care.

Nasal washing, also called jala neti, is done with a neti pot.  In Sanskrit, it is called sapta-patha, which means seven paths.  These paths are the convergence of seven openings: two nostrils, two tear ducts, two Eustachian tubes, and the pharynx.  Plus, the para-nasal sinuses connect to the nasal passageways.

These areas are lined with sensitive tissue (called goblet and cilia) that secret and move mucus.  Healthy mucus traps particles and lubricates the nose.  Mucus antibodies protect from microbes by rhythmically moving the mucus from nose to throat to intestines, and finally out of the body.  Our mucus is then replaced every 10 to 20 minutes.

Mucus health can change due to health imbalances, cold or viral infection, air pollution, dry or cold air, and airborne allergens.  Thus, its normal pathway is interrupted causing such conditions as stagnation, dry or runny noses, and post-nasal drip.  All of which may lead to clogged and infected sinuses and more.

With over 20,000 breaths a day passing through this confluence, using a neti pot facilitates cleansing and improving tissue health.  Not only is it effective, it’s cheap and easy preventative health care.  If you consider the nose as your body’s initial filtration place, using a neti pot makes sense.   Plus, it’s not just a preventative. The practice is also known to aid sinus headaches, allergies and stress; or use when your nose is blocked during a cold.

Ancient practitioners of yoga realized its value.  Each practitioner would jala neti prior to their practice.  This inner body cleansing ensured a clear breath flow; and breath, which they call prana meaning life force, was/is the cornerstone of yoga.

Neti Pot Use:

First off, know that it may take a little practice.  It can be done over a sink or in the shower.

  1.  Fill the pot with warm water then add approximately ¼ to ¾ teaspoon of non-ionized salt, amount depending on how the salt is ground.  The finer grounded salts, such as table salt, require lesser amounts.
  2. Make sure salt is completely mixed and dissolved in the water.
  3. Leaning over, twist your head to one side, raising one nostril.
  4. Breathe thru your mouth.  Don’t hold your breath.
  5. Insert and make a seal with the spout into the nostril that is raised and let the water flow back through the nose out the lower nostril.
  6. Before changing sides, gently blow excess water out of both nostrils. Note the word gently.
  7. When I’m finished rinsing both sides, I do a simple forward fold (reaching hands toward feet) to remove any excess water.

Side Notes:

  1. If you get water in your mouth, just lower your head a little.
  2. If water doesn’t flow from the one nostril to the other, you may need to tilt your head a little more.
  3. I use one full pot with each nostril.  Yet, it’s fine to use ½ pot on each side.
  4. However much you decide to use, always do the practice with both nostrils.
  5. Pure sea salt, medium to finely ground is a good option.  But I frequently use table salt with no ill effects.
  6. There are many neti pots available ranging from plastic to stainless; they all work well. http://www.nextag.com/neti-pot/stores-html.  Mine is a fifteen dollar porcelain one and I just use regular table salt, ¼ teaspoon.  There is special neti salt but spare the expense; it isn’t necessary.
  7. Use filtered or distilled water if your tap water is polluted.

Demo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8sDIbRAXlg

“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.”   Spanish Proverb

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