Many yogi’s learned the value of doing jala neti regularly. Ayurveda and yoga seem to be merging in the United States, the ayurvedic practice of nasya is also added to the daily regimen for a yoga practitioner. Nasya is a practice that was written about in the second chapter of the Ashtanga Hrdayam. Nasya is also described in Charaka Samhita and described in Shushrut Samhita. Both neti and nasya are connected to rinsing or cleaning the nasal passage but today we see them as two separate practices.
What is neti and Nasya?
Jala neti is the actual name for the practice of washing the nasal passages with salt water. It is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as one of two major ways to practice neti. Washing the nasal passages with salt water is not limited to India. Many of my “island” friends have told me that as children they would go to the ocean to pour ocean water in to the nostrils to clean them with their hands.
Nasya is the practice of cleansing nasal passages according to ayurveda using other substances. The actual name of what is commonly practiced in Ayurvedic circles is called pratimarsha nasya using oil as the medium to cleanse the nostrils.
Today using an oil dropper to administer oil into the nostril is very manageable.
In a pinch one can line the nostrils with oil or ghee using your finger, which can be done up to 13 times a day. However, according to Helga Fuchs of Yoga-Ayurved, if you need to oil the nostrils that many times a day it is time to see a practitioner as some dis-ease may be presenting itself.
What are the Tools and ingredients used in nasal washing?
The neti pot has become extremely popular. One can find a neti pot in yoga studio’s and health food stores. You can also find plastic ones these days in pharmacies but as with everything plastic, it will degenerate rather quickly especially using salt water. Be sure to use a ceramic pot its well worth the extra cost.
You are going to need saline solution to go into the neti pot. Make your own by adding and mixing about 1⁄4 teaspoon of fine non-iodized salt into about 1 cup (8oz) of warm water, until it is fully dissolved.
Neti pot also requires the pouring of the salt into one nostril and allowing is to drip out the other side then switching nostrils to pour in and come out. Here’s the technique.
Nasya Oil just needs a way to drop the oil into the nostrils. There are many different types of oils catering to different needs and conditions. Many nasya oils have herbs infused into a base oil. One simply drops four or five drops into each nostril, keeping the head back so the oil can go deep into the sinus cavities.
Why practice Neti or Nasya methods?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says that “Neti cleanses the cranium and bestows clairvoyance. It also destroys all diseases which manifests above the throat.” As with all translations from the ancient texts certain things have to be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended).
The saline solution washes out particles from the nasal and sinus passages. Neti creates clarity because more air is available to all parts of the body through the blood and directly to the brain. The nose is one of the nine gates in which the body expels materials that are not useful to the body. From a yogic perspective more prana is available which provides better health.
Nasya as described in the Ashtanga Hrdayam is indicated in dis-eases above the shoulders. It does purification and expels the aggravated doshas from the head and neck out of the body. The oils used go directly into the mucosal membrane reaching and feeding the dhatus using different pathways.
When can they be applied?
Practice Jala neti up to three times a day, the first before breakfast as part of your bathing routine. Three times a day can be rather drastic, most people practice Jala neti only once or twice a day.
Practice nasya once or twice a day, morning and evening.
I have heard Dr. Vasant Lad caution against doing both practices directly one after the other. If you want to do both, do one in the morning and the other in the evening.
- Neti can easily help those people living in areas with high pollen or air pollution by flushing the large particles.
- Nasya can easily help people living in dry arid regions.
- Breathing will become deeper and easier with either practice
As with everything there is a time and place for each therapy. I suggest getting into the habit of practicing nasya or neti or both. You will benefit in many ways.
What do you think, which is better? Is neti an ayurvedic practice? Is nasya a yogic practice? Thoughts anyone?