The neti pot experiment

Before leaving on a yoga pilgrimage to India last year, I emailed our yogi leader to ask what items to pack.  Was there anything specific that would come in handy?  Things that people often forget, or fail to think of?

Among her recommendations: a neti pot.

While I did bring malaria medication, I did not pack a neti pot.  Cleansing my nasal passages with warm salt water with a tiny water can just wasn’t a part of my routine.  I did do a form of nasal cleansing following a nose job in 2010, however, and that process mirrored the neti pot technique — but it used a little squeeze bottle and cold saline solution.  It was a pre-filled bottle I’d just pull out of the refrigerator, as necessary.  It was simple, and on doctor’s orders.  I stopped when the saline solution ran out.

The yoga teacher training program gives me an opportunity to try the neti pot.  Actually, I’m kind of being forced, thanks to a question on our midterm: “Use the neti pot for one week and explain its benefits.”  It’s a fun challenge.

I learned three things in the process: 1)  Many people assume you’re buying a neti pot because you’re sick.  When I was shopping around, people kept asking me that.  Even the lady who rang me up at Whole Foods asked me if I was OK.  2)  I am terrible with the neti pot.  I spent the past seven days working to tilt my head just the right way to get that water going in one nostril and out the other — but I’d swallow it instead.  The sensation reminded me of the times when I’d get water up the nose while horsing around at the local swimming pool.  It’s not a pleasant sensation.  3)  When I did stumble upon the right technique, it was great end result to have the passageways completely clear.  My breathing felt pure and effortless.  It was a messy process — me over the sink, watering my nostrils, mucus sometimes expelling — but it opened my nasal passages up for business.  Welcome, prana!

I’ll be honest, though: The neti pot isn’t something I’m likely to keep up on a regular basis.  Heating up the water in my electronic kettle, then testing the temperature so that it won’t burn my nose, waiting for the temperature to drop (if it was too hot), measuring the salt mixture — that all takes time.  Not to mention, the neti pot itself is just awkward to use.  I am curious about re-introducing the saline solution back into my routine, however.  That process was less involved and had the same effect.

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