Hatha yoga pradipika by Swami swatmarama is a very well known text in Sanskrit. In this text swami swatmarama does not worry at all about self control and self discipline in the form of yama and niyama. He begins by saying that you should purify the whole body ,the stomach, intestine, nervous system and other system. Therefore shatkarma comes first that is Neti, Dhauti, basti, kapalbhati, trataka and nauli. So, hatha yoga is also known as the science of purification, not one, but six.
The aim of hatha yoga is to create harmony between the two major pranic flows, ida and pingala. To attain that harmony shatkarmas are used to expel the three doshes or humours of the body, bata(wind), pitta(bile), kapha(mucus). According to hatha yoga and ayurveda an imbalance of the doshes create illness.
When you clear the body of these impurities, the nadis function and energy blocks are released. Then the energies move like wave frequencies throughout the channels within the physical structure moving right up to the brain.
Hatha yoga is considered as the preliminary practice of tantra, raja yoga, kundalini yoga, kriya yoga. When the rishis discovered the science of hatha yoga, they did not have yoga therapy in mind. Although yoga and yogic shatkarmas are scientifically proved to be beneficial in many incurable diseases. The therapeutic effect of yoga is only a byproduct and incidental. We know matter in its ultimate form is energy, then this physical body can be transformed into solid energy through the systematic practice of the six cleansing process.
The most important thing one must be aware of is these powerful techniques are to be learned not from any text books or from TV but should be learned under the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga therapist. Among the six purification processes Neti is considered to be the most beneficial, practical form of process, which each and everyone can practice without any negative effects. Only those persons who have severe nasal bleeding & suffering from ear perforation should not practice Jal Neti. But first time one must learn from an expert teacher.
Neti is of different type, Jala Neti, mutra neti, ghrita neti, dugdha neti, sutra neti. Among these most practical and easier one is jala neti.All types of neti is having the same effect except sutra neti is useful in rectifying the problem of deviated nasal septrum.
Jala neti-(The preparation)
The most important thing is one should take pure water(bacteria free) for the preparation of the solution. A special neti lota or pot is required. The water should be at body temperature and thoroughly mixed with salt in the proportion of one teaspoonful per half litre of water. The addition of salt ensures the osmotic pressure of the water is equal to that of the body fluids which minimizes the irritation of the mucus membrane. If a painful or burning sensation is felt it is an indication that there is either too little or too much salt in the water. It is generally recommended to use Hypertonic Saline water as it considered being a Mucoactive agent and easily hydrates thick Mucosal secretion. To prepare a hypertonic saline solution at home use 7 gms of common salt/ 100 ml of water (approx. 3 heap full in a litre of water).
It can be done in sitting position or in standing position near a basin, but the method should be learned from an expert teacher.
If water does not flow from one nostril to other nostril it is an indication of physical, mental or psychic blockage of the nasal cavity or if there is any physical deformity like nasal septum deviation. If there is blockage due to cold and cough or some other reason we still continue the practice by just holding the pot in the nostril for some time. Then after half an hour if you practice it again you may find the blockage is opening slowly and the water is coming out drop by drop. To open up the severe blockage one need to have patience to practice again and again for some days until the passage opens completely. In normal condition we need only 5 minutes for nasal irrigation.
Jala neti can be performed at any time except just after taking food. It is better option to do jala neti after coming back from outing. The most important practice of jala neti is drying the nose. If it is not dried properly one may develop the symptom of cold and there may be headache. So it should be learned from expert guidance. Generally kapalbhati, bhastrika, sasanka asana or pada hastasana is performed before completing the process.
Therapautic Use of Jala Neti
Jala neti is highly therapeutic in nature and it is beneficial in almost all psychosomatic diseases. According to medical science 89% diseases are psychosomatic diseases. The obvious, visible benefits are noticed in almost all allergic diseases respiratory diseases and ear, nose and throat problems. It encompasses innumerable diseases many of them have no cure in medical science and treated symptomatically having a lot of side effects on the body. Jala neti is a boon for the patients suffering from colds, coughs, allergic rhinitis hay fever, Catarrh, tonsillitis, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis ,inflammation of the adenoids, epilepsy, migraine, pulmonary tuberculosis. It also gives resistance to various diseases of the ears, eyes and throat, such as myopia, tension headache due to eye, strain. Certain cases of deafness such as glue ears and middle ear infection and it inhibits the formation of nasal polyps. Mouth breathing in children leading to poor memory, concentration and development is overcome by neti. Neti relieves muscular tension of the face and helps maintain facial youth and freshness. It releases emotional tension and is beneficial in depression, hysteria.
The practice of neti involves our nose which is the main part of our breathing system. On the physical level irrigation of the nasal mucus removes accumulated mucus from the nostril, associated passage and sinus, allowing air to flow without obstruction. The air conditioning system of our body is inside the nose. The above mentioned diseases are due to the malfunction of the system. Jala neti ensures the correct functioning of this mechanism in our body. It is perhaps the most important nerve centers of our body which corresponds to ajnachakra (The Command Centre). The nerve fibers are not only include the fibers of the olfactory nerve responsible for the sense of smell but also numerous other autonomic fibers which relay information to the brain about the inflowing breath. Not only smell but also environmental temperature, humidity and allergens in the air are all sensed by the nose as inflowing breath is drawn across this mucus membrane.
Neti exerts a relaxing and irrigation effect upon the eyes by stimulating the tear ducts and glands. The frontal lobes of the cerebrum responsible for the higher mental faculties begin to function optimally. Integration of the higher mental faculties leads to genius intuition, creativity and so on.
According to yogi Swatmarama, performing neti leads to divya drishti. Divya drishti is faculty of clairvoyance which manifest with the awakening of ajnachakra. It is a faculty of the higher intuitive mind or the third eye. The practice of neti said to stimulate ajnachakra remove its blockages and bring it into fuller functioning.
(Reference is taken from Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati)
One may refer the paper on Neti research
Reasearch – Tomooka, lance T, Clair, Murphy and Terence M, Davidson Clinical study and literature review.