The technique of nasal cleansing, which is one of the important components of the yogic shatkarmas is known as Neti Kriya. It cleans the sinuses, ease the headache, tones up the optic nerves and thus improves sight.
~ HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA 2.30
Meaning of Neti Kriya
Neti derives its origin from the ancient Indian culture. The Vedic scriptures elaborate various literary facts about spirituality and yogic practices, Neti is found to be the one among them. The Upanishads and Avadhuta Gita constitutes an analytical description of Neti.
Neti is a Sanskrit expression which means “Neither this” or “Not this”. In the context of the purification process, it relates to the removal of the toxin. It implies, “No Toxins”.
Kriya means completed action i.e. to do something. In the yogic culture, kriya depicts the action to achieve some clearly defined goals or outcomes. It includes various breathing control measures and physically doing actions.
Neti Kriya is the third purification techniques among the six actions (Shatkarma) discussed in Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita. Other five actions in Shatkarma are Dhauti, Nauli, Basti, Trataka, and Kapalbhati.
1. Neti pot – A Neti pot is an instrument usually small with a long spout on one side, meant to be inserted gently into one of the nostrils. It is also smaller in size and the shape is kept slender.
2. A pinch of salt and lukewarm water ( Jal Neti)
3. Rolled thread dipped in beeswax or a special type of rubber tube known as a catheter (Sutra Neti)
4. Lukewarm milk ( Dugdha Neti)
5. Lukewarm ghee ( Ghritha Neti)
Types of Neti
There are mainly 4 types of Neti kriya described and implemented in the yogic means used for cleansing of nasal cavities. They are as follows:
- Jal Neti – It is a technique of nasal cleaning with the use of saline water.
- Sutra Neti – In this type of Neti Kriya, a roll of thread dipped in beeswax and then used for the nasal cleaning.
- Dugdha Neti – This technique is similar to the Jal Neti in which warm milk is used instead of warm saline water.
- Ghritha Neti – It is a technique of clearing the nasal passages with the help of warm ghee.
Note: First perform sutra neti, then perform Jal neti.
Dugdha or milk Neti is an alternative to Jal Neti and recommended for the people who may feel severe irritation by saline water.
It can also be done in addition to Jal Neti to soothe the nasal lining after its exposure to the salty water. It is suitable for cases of chronic nasal bleeding or inflamed nasal lining.
In this Neti, fill the Neti pot with lukewarm milk (of body temperature) and unlike Jal Neti, half of the pot doesn’t need to flow through one side to other. Rather, milk is allowed to fill in one nostril and after that, it is withdrawn from another side.
In this, use ghee instead of milk or water. Unconcentrated oil without added chemicals can also be used instead of ghee.
Steps for performing this Neti is same as Jal Neti. Fill the Neti pot with warm ghee and tilt your head in one side. Now, Insert the spout into one of the nostrils and allow the ghee to pass through the opposite nostril.
Ghrita Neti can help to prevent the soreness of the nose caused due to saline water used in Jal Neti.
Benefits of Neti Kriya
- Neti drains the sinuses and the nasal cavity. It stimulates various center in the brain regulating its functions.
- Removes all the dirt, foreign particles or antigen, e.g. bacteria which can cause infections.
- Avoids episodes of allergy and rhinorrhea.
- Reduces the tendency for mouth breathing as it cleans the nasal passageways.
- Thorough cleansing of the upper respiratory tract. The complaints of common cold, cough, and tonsils can be reduced.
- It relieves asthma and bronchitis.
- It is helpful in treating headaches, migraine, epilepsy, depression and mental
- It is helpful in hysteric personalities and it has a smoothening effect on the brain.
- It clears the tear ducts and is beneficial for problems related to the eyes.
- Ear disorders like tinnitus and middle ear infection can be taken care of.
- Not only nasal lining is benefitted but it also affects olfactory nerves. It restores a sense of smell and creates a balance between taste and digestive processes.
- Brings harmony in the function of pineal and pituitary gland. The hormonal system becomes subtle.
- Helpful in de-addiction and reduction in the urge to smoke.
- Helps to reduce irritating behavior and control anger.
Various studies and articles 1 describe its therapeutic effects on relieving various symptoms.
According to a paper 2 published in the Journal of Traditional Medicine and Clinical Naturopathy, Neti is suggested as one of the best procedure for relieving allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.
A study was conducted in Karnataka, to assess the effect of yogic kriyas 3 on Sinusitis. A total number of 20 subjects and 20 controls were selected. They were taught yoga therapies. After a follow up of 5 months, it was found that subjects were relieved from sinusitis.
A literature survey 4 elaborates various benefits and effects of Neti on the human body.
The mode of action of Neti also summarized in this study.
1. Mechanical action: removal of dust, foreign particles, and allergens with the flow of water.
2. Osmotic action: the salt used in Jal Neti has an anti-swelling effect on the nasal mucosa.
3. Thermal action: the warm water usually near 42◦ C proves to be bactericidal and prevents the infection from rhinovirus.
4. Neurovegetative action: It stimulate the receptors and also have effects on vagal responses. It is proved to be beneficial in the treatment of Bronchial Asthma.
5. Psychological action: unwanted and disturbing feelings are alleviated. A relaxed state of emotional stability is achieved.
Spiritual Dimension of Neti Kriya
The benefits and effects of Neti are far beyond being just physical. As it is a component of hatha yoga, it also reflects the metaphysical effects.
The procedure of performing Neti is not just about the flow of water/milk/thread/ghee inside the nasal cavity, but it is the flow of energy.
Ajna Chakra or the third-eye chakra also activated through its consistent practice.
This Shatkarma has been used by various yogis of ancient India to improve their concentration and meditation.
With pollution rise in the environment, the chances of getting allergic and encountering health-related problems have become quite common. “Prevention is better than cure” has always been advocated. By inculcating these practices in our daily life, we can not only avoid these issues but can improve the quality of our lives multi folds.
Neti Kriya is a non-pharmacological modality for treating various health-related problems. It not only limited to the physical benefits but has a positive impact on psychological and spiritual health also. It is easy and feasible to perform once learned attentively.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes it as one of the important Shatkarma playing a significant role in the purification of the body. It was practiced by eminent yogis.
So, taking some time out for oneself from the hectic schedule and adapting the habit of yogic therapy is the need of the hour. It can help you to maintain an equilibrium between the essentiality and spirituality in Life.