Monday, January 16, 2006

Too Much Neti? How Do You Know?

I've written several Daily Yoga Tips about jala neti, the yogic practice of nasal irrigation.

Today, I answer a question from a regular Daily Yoga Tip reader who says,
Kevin: Thank you for the Neti pot tip. I have tried it and had good results. Question: Can a person overdo it? For instance, morning & night. Also, does a person's sinuses show a continuous improvement after, say, a week or two?
Thanks, Jerry C
This is a great question, Jerry.

Frankly, I once believed that you could not overdo it. But I've changed my thinking on that.

I changed my thinking because of experience.

First of all, I think it is safe to assume that if you are breathing and you don't live in a bubble, you are regularly exposed to pollutants, irritants, pollens, particulate matter, dust, bacteria, viruses, smoke, and a host of other things. You get the idea.

So, if you are regularly rinsing this stuff out of your sinuses, you'll be healthier and happier. And not just in your head and throat. All over.

Think of the energy your immune system conserves by not being forced to deal with all of these onslaughts. That same energy can be used to deliver optimum health elsewhere in your beautiful and marvelous body.

To answer Jerry's second question, I've found that you'll experience continous improvement in your sinuses for several weeks, depending on what condition you are in when you start.

If everything is functioning well when you start, you'll notice some improvement and then you'll stay ahead of trouble.

If you're not doing well when you start, you'll gradually feel the health of your upper respiratory system improve over the weeks, until it begins to function optimally...

or, until you are exposed to something that your sinuses don't handle well. You might have a minor setback. But regular jala neti will give your system the help it needs and you'll be back to optimal functioning.

In addition to washing out the offending substance, when you neti you also wash out the mucus that accumulates in your sinuses in an effort to deal with the pollutants you breathe in. Sometimes that mucus is the stuff that obstructs breathing and leads to a host of other difficulties.

Mucus produced by your body is a natural, healthy thing. It helps trap the gunk in your head. Then the cilia, tiny hairs in there, move the mucus and the trapped sludge toward an opening (throat or nose) and you expel it with a sneeze, a cough, or by blowing your nose.

If you neti too much, you can wash away the precious mucus that protects you. Then you'll be even more susceptible to infection.

So how much is too much? I don't know. But you do.

Generally I suggest daily nasal irrigation, because doing it daily makes it a habit. It becomes part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

I've noticed that when I skip the neti pot routine, my nose and sinuses start to not do so well...but I'm not aware that they're getting worse UNTIL I'M MISERABLE. I'm better off if I do it every day and stay ahead of trouble.

Sallie Keeney and I taught the Experience Sanskrit workshop yesterday in Kansas City. It was fabulous! Thank you to Kelli Austin of Sunshine Yoga for being our host! And thank you yogis of KCMO. We've never heard chanting like that before!

We opened the workshop by chanting the invocation used by Anusara yogis. It begins "Om Namah Shivayah Gurave."

One translation for this opening line is:
I bow to the goodness within myself, known as Lord Shiva, who is the true teacher.
Here's the deal. You already know how often you should use the neti pot. The truth and beauty of it are already within you. You simply can't hear the voice of your teacher until you practice.

Practice using your neti pot every day for several months. You'll start to know when you feel just right.

You'll start to know when haven't done it enough. You can't wait to run to the sink and feel purifying flow and the subsequent energy release.

You'll start to know when you've overdone it, too.

This is what the practice of yoga is all about.

Patanajali's second YogaSutra says, yogas chitta vrtti nirodhah, "yoga is stilling the movement of the mind."

Christopher Isherwood offers this translation:
2. Yoga is the control of the thought-waves in the mind.
3. Then man abides in his real nature.
4. At other times, when he is not in the state of yoga, man remains identified with the thought-waves in the mind.
When you practice, you reach the state of yoga. In the state of yoga, you see your true nature. You see directly who you really are. You hear the voice of your true teacher, you! At other times, you're distracted by sense perceptions and mental reactions.

Practice. You'll know just when you've hit the sweet spot.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., If you'd like to read more about the yogic art of jala neti, click here to read one of my earlier Daily Yoga Tips on the topic.

p.p.s., We've made available a really cool women's pink cap sleeve t-shirt that says "chitta happens" on it. The graphic design is really great. And it's also got the second sutra in English and Devangari script in the design. You can see it and order yours here.

p.p.p.s., Here's what Julie Tenenbaum said about the Experience Sanskrit workshop yesterday in Kansas City, "Wow. Again. Your workshop was as good as you said it would be. Informative, fun, interesting, engaging. And you may quote me on that."

Jackie A. said, "I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and meeting you both. I've been a subscriber to Kevin's Daily Yoga Tip for just a few months and always enjoy the sense of humor that comes through his postings. It was great to be able to experience that sense of humor in person. It sure made a rather "dry" subject a LOT more fun!"

Our next Experience Sanskrit workshop is coming up in just two weeks in Fort Worth, Texas. You can find out about it and other workshop dates at Register here.

p.p.p.p.s., Would you like to bring the Experience Sanskrit workshop to your yoga studio? Send me an email. It's easy. Send it to

p.p.p.p.p.s., Sallie and I are conducting the Experience Neti Flow workshop this coming Saturday at Show Me Yoga Center in Jefferson City, MO. Read the details here. Register here.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
905 Eastland Plaza Suite B, #106
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 680-6737


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