I have always wondered what it would be like to inhale the same quality of air as a yogi living on a mountaintop somewhere in the Himalayas. I like to imagine sitting up there on the grass with my legs crossed in lotus style, as I experienced perfectly serene breath, inhaling 100% purity with each molecule of oxygen.
If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to inhale the same quality of air too.
But alas, most of us are ordinary people, living in cities with lots of pollution, suburban areas with lots of pollination, and households with pet dander.
And it can be very difficult to meditate when your nostrils are blocked or runny due to these allergens and pollutants.
That’s why I want to take a few moments here to talk about an important internal cleansing exercise that will rinse your sinuses of all impurities and serve as a great preparation for meditation — it’s called neti.
Use Neti to Get Your Nostrils Squeaky Clean For Meditation
Neti is one of the six practices of internal cleansing in classic yoga literature. These practices are called shatkarmas.
Shatkarmas are purification techniques that prepare a yoga practitioner for asnas, pranayama, and meditation. These techniques are considered important for physical and mental health, and they are known to help bring clarity and harmony to the mind and heal internal disorders of the body.
There are six shatkarmas total. The six shatkarmas are neti, which is nasal cleansing, dhauti, which is cleansing of the digestive tract, nauli, which is abdominal massage, basti, which is colon cleansing, kapalbhati, which is nerve cleansing, and trataka, which is blinkless gazing.
Neti is a great activity that you can do twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Neti clears your sinuses, removing all dust and pollen, which is especially valuable in natural areas during spring season or in cities with lots of air pollution. Neti also helps removes mucus when you are sick.
Neti is especially crucial as preparation for meditation because clean nasal passages promote smooth and steady breathing and concentration of the mind.
Neti requires that you purchase a neti pot, a little ceramic or plastic container with a spout.
Here’ s how to do it:
1. Fill your pot with warm water.
Make sure that the water is not too hot, but not too cold. You can put your finger beneath the faucet to test the temperature.
Just imagine you’re the one of the 3 little bears, trying to get the right temperature of porridge. If the water is too hot, you’ll burn your nostrils. It’s an unpleasant feeling, I promise you, and you’ll have to withdraw the spout from your nose rather quickly.
2. Add a little saline and mix with the water
You can buy this in packs or purchase some non-iodized salt. You can stir the saline with your finger.
3. Pour the water through your nostrils.
Start by tilting your head slightly and placing the tip of the spout in your right nostril, allowing half of the water to pour through it and out the left nostril.
Then do the same thing on the other side, tilting your head slightly and placing the tip of the spout in your left nostril, allowing the remaining half of the water to pour through it and out the right nostril.
4. Clean out your pot
Make sure the pot is rinsed and ready for the next use.
Bonus step: Add a drop of oregano oil to the neti pot
This a little trick that I discovered, which is especially useful if you have blocked nostrils due to terrible allergies. You can add this drop to your mixture right after you add the saline. It may sting a little, but it really does the trick.