03 Aug 20

The ancient yogic practice of nasal cleansing

Sam McCrow Yoga and Hiking

Nasal cleansing (neti) is a kriya (cleansing technique) that has been used to purify and cleanse the body by yogis in India for over 5000 years.

It may seem a little bit strange at first, but usually people enjoy nasal cleansing and decide that they want to continue with the practice. It becomes just as normal as brushing your teeth. When done regularly it aligns your mind, body and soul and prepares you for a higher state of consciousness.

nasal cleansing in nepal

The word kriya comes from the word ‘kri’ which means ‘to do’, and implies a ritual that is done consciously and with effort. There are 6 main kriyas (rituals) used in yoga to cleanse the body and mind:

  • Neti – nasal cleanse
  • Dhauti – internal cleanse
  • Nauli – abdominal massage
  • Basti – colon cleanse
  • Kapalabhati – detox breath
  • Trataka – blinkless gazing or candle staring to flush the eyes

When these practices first arrived in the West they appeared to be a bit strange and shocking, but to yoga practitioners these are viable an even natural.

Ultimately these kriyas open up the body’s pathways (nadis) and eliminate any physical, energetic or spiritual blockages, thereby allowing the body’s energy (prana) to fun freely. They assist in obtaining overall physical and mental harmony.

The nose itself is an amazing organ. It cleanses the air before it enters our body and prevents dust and bacteria from entering the lungs, so it is very important to keep the nose clean and healthy.

Nasal cleansing is done in one of two ways: sutra (string) neti and jala (water) neti. String neti uses cotton that has been dipped in a beeswax sheet. It is more difficult and should be learned from a teacher.

Water neti is easy to do!

  1. Dissolve a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt in a glass of lukewarm non-chlorinated water into a neti pot (the device used to cleanse the nasal passage; it resembles a small teapot.)
  2. Tip your head back and place the spout of the neti pot into the right nostril.
  3. Bend your head slightly forward and at the same time tilt the head to the left so that the water may flow out of the left nostril. Breathing takes place through the mouth. Pour half of the contents of the pot through the right nostril.
  4. Complete the same on procedure on the opposite side.
  5. To complete the purification of the nose, strongly expel the breath a further 3 to 5 times through each nostril while holding the other nostril shut (as when blowing your nose). It is important that the mouth remains open during this process to prevent water getting into the ears.

Now you have completed neti!

The benefits of neti

  • Relief from headaches
  • Strengthened vision
  • Prevention from colds and blocked sinuses
  • Relief from hayfever and pollen allergies
  • Calming of the nervous system and relief from stress

Where can you try neti?

Neti is one of the ancient yogic practices that you can try on in Nepal, along with sound baths, chanting, meditation and, of course, yoga. Nepal is a magical destination, rich in spirituality and the ideal place to dive into the sacred tradition of yoga as well as experience some breath-taking hikes across the Himalayas.

Samantha McCrow

Written By

Samantha McCrow

Sam is an seasoned hiker and travel writer with 20+ years experience as a content and marketing specialist. She started out as a commissioning editor for Lonely Planet guidebooks and now regularly shares stories and insights about the world's most iconic and rewarding hiking trails.

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