A preventive and health promoting practice against pollution, virus or infection to the nasal cavity and sinus region
The current coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in research around the nature of the virus and what happens in the respiratory tract. The practice of yoga, particularly Hatha yoga, has been focused on respiratory tract health, from the nasal cavity and sinuses right down to the lungs, for at least 1,000 years. Now a major scientific study published in the journal Cell has characterized specific ways the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infects the cells of the nasal cavity to the greatest degree as it then continues to infect down the respiratory tract to a lesser degree (1).
The virus becomes firmly established in the nasal cavity. This means the nose is the primary site from which lung infections develop. According to these researchers it means that protective and therapeutic strategies to reduce the presence of the virus in the nose could be beneficial. Nasal irrigation is considered a possibly effective strategy.
Nasal irrigation is not a novel practice. It is noted as one of six specific cleansing practices in Hatha yoga, termed as Neti (2). The original reference to this practice is termed sutra neti, sutra being a string (today a rubber catheter) passed through the nostril and out the mouth to essentially stimulate and invigorate the nasal cavity. We show the detail of this practice in a video we made in 2010 below. Though highly beneficial jala neti, literally water neti, is most popular and easy to do.
The ancient text notes that these cleansing practices are highly respected for their value amongst yogis as they purify the body and yield wonderful results. Neti is said to not just clear the nasal passage but also the sinuses, improve vision, and either prevent or destroy diseases of the upper respiratory tract. This has been the experience anecdotally by thousands of aspiring and practicing yogis as well as evidenced on popular media shows of late. Many use as prevention against colds and allergies. However, this landmark study is one of the first credible scientific sources to offer a valid justification for the practice.
Nasal irrigation is used in the medical world, especially with children, whereby a bulb syringe loaded with saline solution is force-squeezed through the nose. Though effective it presents a force onto the highly sensitive nasal mucosa. Jala neti pours the saline solution through the nostrils one at a time in a more agreeable way to the nasal passage. As with any of these cleansing practices rushing or being careless through bad technique leads to an ineffective outcome or discomfort. We have an updated video for you here to show the steps to do this water (jala) neti as well as the detail below.
Best of all you can do at home in your bathroom or kitchen at no cost (other than salt, water and a pot).