Wash that virus right out of your nose.
Yoga began as an important part of my life over a decade ago but has now evolved into part of my daily life, a decision I have made to support my overall health and wellbeing.
One of my daily practices is Jala Neti, a cleansing technique (or kriya) that helps to clear the nasal passages of any blockages such as any dirt or bacteria filled mucus that gets trapped inside the nose, this is our first line of defense against external pathogens such a nasty virus. This alone is one good reason to comit to daily nasal cleansing. This simple practice of filling a small ( Neti ) pot with warm salty water and inserting a spout into one nostril, the head is tilted, and the warm salty water flows through one side of the nasal cavity to the other and out the other nostril. May sound gross but just one try and you will be hooked.
If there is no mucous hanging around the nose we can breathe easily through the nose which has enormous benefits for those with asthma or bronchitis. Cleansing the nasal mucosa also aids disorders of the neighbouring ear such as middle ear infections, glue ear, tinnitus.
Why practice and the science of how it works: The first line of nasal defence are the tiny hairs called “cilia” which should trap larger particles entering the nose. These cilia are usually cleansed by the act of normal breathing and by blowing the nose, but sometimes, due to a gradual build-up of dirt, they can become clogged and may require washing out. The whole of the nasal passages from nose tip to throat (and beyond) are covered with a layer of mucus. This mucus is secreted from within the mucous lining, and its function is to trap smaller foreign particles and bacteria. The dirty mucus is normally blown out, snorted and coughed out or swallowed. The sinus passages are an even finer mechanism of filtering which, if infected, secrete runny mucus to evict the germs. Ailments, such as colds, sinusitis etc. are alleviated by the direct cleaning, antiseptic and purifying effect of the salt water.
When you first talk to people about practicing jala neti, the usual response for most people is that they are grossed out by the thought of pouring salt water into their nose to wash it out. Then they become intrigued and want to see how to do it. Once they have seen how the practice works, they want to try it and then it becomes a practice that they love and becomes part of their daily routine as I or has for me.
So are you intrigued? Are you ready to try this practice? Are you ready to add it to your daily routine to improve and maintain your health and wellbeing? Why not invest in yourself the benefits speak for themselves as you can see below.
Why is this so healthy? For good health it is essential to breathe through the nose at all times. Neti ensures that the nostrils are kept clean and in good condition, which helps to ensure the best possible health. The two main nerves in the nose are the olfactory (smell) and the fifth cranial (facial sense perception). These are stimulated by the passage of water during neti and send nerve impulses direct to the brain. This leads to the stimulation of other nerve connections in the brain. Eventually motor and autonomic nerve fibres are fired at the end of the nerve pathways and different parts of the brain are stimulated. The lining of the nose, the mucus membrane, is very sensitive. It contains tiny glands which secrete a sticky mucus to trap and remove dust and dirt from the inhaled breath. These glands moisten the air to the correct degree of humidity before it enters the lungs. Within the nose there are small, fine hairs which further filter and clean the air.
When doing neti the impulses inside the brain are felt immediately and sometimes feelings of light-headedness which cause a sensation of high. The olfactory nerve passes into the area of the brain. It is connected with the autonomic nervous system. Stimulation of this nerve during neti helps to balance the autonomic nervous system. The fifth cranial nerve, on the other hand, passes through the thalamus into the higher brain centres, which are concerned with receiving and interpreting sensory information from the very sensitive areas of the face. As a result of stimulation during neti, the motor cortex sends messages to the muscles of the face and eyes. Neti brings about a physical stimulation of the whole brain, which can help bring relief in cases of facial paralysis and other nervous diseases. Soothing the brain helps to soothe and relax the rest of the body. Neti helps to remove blocks in the flow of nervous impulses and brings good health. Other Benefits of Jala Neti are: Helps to drain the sinus cavities which help the body’s natural mechanisms against nasal infections such as hay fever, allergies, sinusitis and other upper respiratory complaints like sore throats and coughs, post nasal drip, inflammation of tonsils and adenoids. Has a cooling and soothing effect on the brain, by drawing out excessive heat - this is beneficial for headaches, migraine, epilepsy, temper tantrums, hysteria, depression and general mental tension.
Helps problems associated with the eyes. It helps flush the tear ducts, encouraging clearer vision and gives a sparkle to the eyes. Helps certain types of ear disorders such as middle ear infections, glue ear, tinnitus. Improves sensitivity of the olfactory nerves, helping to restore lost sense of smell, and the relationship with taste and the digestive processes. Its effects on the pineal and pituitary glands which control the hormonal system, which have a harmonising effect on emotional behaviour. nourishes the pranic body, the physical body and the mind Affects the psychic centre known as Ajna (Crown) Chakra which helps in awakening higher states of meditation. Helps to stimulate better powers of visualisation and concentration and gives a feeling of lightness and clarity to the mind. Is useful for those trying to give up smoking, as It reduces the tendency for mouth breathing and re-sensitises the nose to the pollution of ingesting smoke, this reprograms the brain of the physical and psychological addiction.
The Stages of practice and how you progress: Stage 1:
The water simply flows up one nostril to just above the bridge of the nose where the air flows meet, backwards into the middle cavity and then the water flows down and out the other side of the nose. In this route, it passes by the frontal and mid nasal sinuses. In this stage there should be no flow of water back towards the throat or into the mouth. When done correctly, there is usually very little sensation as the water will be the same temperature as the blood, and the salinity will be the same salinity as the blood. As a result, the nose hardly notices the flow through. Advance Stage only to be attempted after mastering Stage 1. Advanced Stage: The water flows through the whole nasal cavity, down the back of the nasopharynx and comes out through the mouth. In this route, it passes by the post nasal sinuses, cleansing all the nasal passages more strongly.
There is no discomfort or damage to the nasal functions in either stage. Ideally no water should actually go up into the sinus passages or the eustachian tubes in either stage. This may happen if the yogi breathes incorrectly or blows too strongly when drying. A few minutes of air drying will usually clear out any stray water droplets. Jala Neti rinses out the dirt and bacteria filled mucous lining, as the warm water loosens and dissolves any build ups, and takes them outwards. But due to gravity and a venturi effect (vacuum pressure), the sinus passages are also drained by the vacuum pressure flow of the water.
The Effects in Relation to Direct and Indirect Benefits of Jala Neti: Direct effects are those that come directly from the salt water which brings about stimulation of: The olfactory nerves situated at the very top of the nasal cavity. These are concerned with the sense of smell. The sensory nerves coming from the nose and face and going directly to the brain. This is called the fifth cranial or trigeminal nerve. The mucus membrane (covering) of the nose. The blood vessels in the nasal cavity. The lymphatics in the nasal region.
Indirect effects include repercussions which occur in the body as a result of cleaning the nose and include: Improved conditioning of the air before entering the respiratory passages and lungs. Better overall health as a result of improved lung efficiency. A soothing effect on the eye-socket; this is due to the stimulation of the fifth cranial nerve which has branches in the eye and eye muscles. Reflex soothing of the whole face as a result of stimulating the sensory cortex (brain) via the fifth cranial nerve; the sensory cortex sends impulses to the facial muscles via the motor nerves. Re-balancing of the autonomic nervous system (the autonomic nervous system, regulates the different organs of the body according to the needs of the environment: either 'fight or flight' to counteract stress, or relaxation). The olfactory nerves in the nose are connected to a part of the brain called the hippocam
pus which is associated with deeper structures in the brain, concerned with regulation of the autonomic nerves. Stimulation of the olfactory nerves thus influences the autonomic functions of the body. Soothing of the brain; this helps to reduce stress and tension. Opening up and re-balancing of the pranic channels. They are the underlying system that maintains the health of the physical body. Subtle prana is absorbed into the pranic body via the nose. Therefore improved efficiency and cleanliness in the nose leads to better health at a pranic level.
What effect does it have on the pranic body?
Prana the vital energy which underlies the physical body and maintains life. It flows through the human framework in multitudes of channels comprising the pranic body. If there is a block or imbalance in the pranic flow then poor or ill health occurs. Neti helps to maintain the free flow and balance of prana and brings good health. The essence of air is prana - energy. The body absorbs prana through the nose during respiration. Therefore thorough cleansing of the nose with neti leads to better health at a pranic level. The flow of breath in each nostril has profound implications. The right flow is called the pingala, the sun nostril, and is concerned with the external environment, physical activity and warmth. The left flow is called the ida, the moon flow, and is associated with the internal environment, mental activity and coolness. By examining the nostril flow at different times of the day yogis will find that one nostril predominates. Occasionally the flows are equal; in this case, the breath is said to be flowing in the sushumna. During sushumna flow, both the physical and pranic bodies are in balance. The flow of breath through the nostrils has a direct influence on the flow of prana. Neti helps to balance the two breath flows, and thereby brings balance into the ida and pingala flows of the subtle pranic body, as well as the autonomic nervous system at a physical level. This leads to flow of the sushumna and overall balance of the whole being. This helps to induce good health and peace of mind. Neti brings benefits which are not easy to explain in terms of modern science. The practices of pranayama are concerned with gaining control over prana via the breathing process. For these practices to be effective, the nose must be clean to allow free flow of air and efficient absorption of prana through the nose.
How does it affect the mental body? The physical and pranic bodies are related to the mind; they are part of the same instrument. Therefore the beneficial influences that neti has on the physical and pranic bodies is beneficial, helping in maintaining good health and ridding the body of illness.
I hope you found this blog interesting and informative
Sources: Pranayama - The Energetics of Breath. Andre Van Lysebeth. www.yogamag.net