February 26, 2014

Neti Pot? Not. ~ Maria Santoferraro


Neti Pots – Love Them or Hate Them?


I have a bit of a quandary.

I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years, teaching yoga for three years, have a steady personal yoga and meditation practice, and love yoga. But I just can’t get behind the practice of using a neti pot, or fully understand why the use is considered yogic.

Not familiar with the neti pot? It is a small pot with a long spout that you insert up your nose as you tilt your head sideways and proceed to pour warm salt water through your sinuses. I’ve never been a fan of getting water up my nose, and when I think back to all the trips I’ve made to the ocean, getting salt water up the nose just sucks.

You are also probably wondering how this practice is considered yogic. I had the same question when I saw it as part of the syllabus of my yoga teacher training. According to Yoga Mastering the Basics, by Sandra Anderson and Rolf Sovik, Psy.D., the daily use of a nasal wash cleanses the nasal passageways and maintains healthy tissue functioning.

A quote:


“A person who regularly drinks water through the nose in the early morning at the end of the night becomes intelligent, develops eyesight as acute as an eagle, is spared the graying of hair and the wrinkling of skin, and is freed from all diseases.”

—from the Yoga-Ratnakara, a Treatise on Ayurvedic Medicine


Whoa, an elixir that will bring me intelligence, allow me to get rid of my bifocals, and keep me looking young, wrinkle, and disease free – that just sounds too good to be true. I had to try it!

I proceeded to the local drug store to pick up my very own neti pot and was dismayed to not find it in the holistic health aisle, but tucked in with all of the over the counter cold remedies. Was this just another so called miracle-drug scam?

I bought a pot anyways and was anxious to start my miracle youth-defying, anti-disease transformation. I mixed up my own batch of salt water and got ready to take the neti for a test-drive. I’ll spare you the nasty details, but let’s just say the disaster included gagging followed by water popping in my ears for days.

Since then I’ve been on a personal mission to find out how to successfully use this contraption and also to see if anyone out there has been the recipient of its so called transformational benefits. I’ve spoke to hundreds of yogis and learned through the spirited conversation that ensued that there is definitely a love-hate relationship with these contraptions. Here are a few key learnings I’d like to share:

  • For the neti-pot lovers, it can’t be beat for seasonal allergies and warding off colds.
  • Oprah does it!
  • If you live in a heavily polluted area, the neti-pot is beneficial for cleansing the nasal passages of germs, toxins, and pollution.
  • To be successful with the neti pot:
    1) Your ears must be elevated, not parallel to the floor. That is why I got the popping in my ears; I was too low, and water went into the ear canal.
    2) When you begin to pour the water, quietly say the letter K. When you say the letter K your throat closes, and it’s not possible for water to go down your throat.
    3) Water temperature is key! Too hot and it will burn; too cold will bring on a headache. Room temperature is just right.
  • If you have a sinus infection, you may be blocked so there will be nowhere for the water to flow.
  • It’s best when done in the shower so you don’t worry about spilling the water all over you.

The most important thing I learned is that the squeeze bottles of saline rinse they sell at pharmacies pretty much do the same thing, and for now these will be my nasal rinse of choice. I’ll just have to continue to be a non-neti yogini until I decide to take another tryst with my neti pot.

Sadly, only one person has raved about the anti-aging effects, claiming that having less inflamed sinuses makes the bags under your eyes smaller and your eyes less puffy. I’m not going to let that discourage me, though, because I think that everything about yoga helps me slow down the aging process and keeps me healthy and happy.

I would love to hear from all of you about your neti-ing—do you love it, or hate it? Do you have tips on how to overcome the fear of sucking water down your nose? Do you feel like it is improving your health? I want the truth. Help me gain the courage to dust off my neti pot and give it a go one more time!



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Maria Santoferraro