Neti Pot Confessions

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March 22, 2011

During my yoga-teacher-training, we learned about the supernatural benefits of the neti pot. For those of you not familiar with this contraption, it is not a kitchen appliance used for roasting organic vegetables; rather, it is a small pot with a long spout that you use to shove up your nose as you tilt your head sideways and proceed to pour warm salt water down your nose.

Let me just go on the record to say that I do not willingly pour water down my nose. I detest getting water up my nose, and, in particular, if I recall all those visits to the beach, salt water up the nose really sucks.

This whole concept was extremely vexing to me. How could using a neti pot be yogic? Why the heck was this part of the syllabus of my yoga-teacher training and supposedly something that would become one of my most satisfying practices? As I sat watching the demonstration on how to use the neti pot, I thought to myself, There is no way I’m subjecting myself to this torturous nasal wash.

According to Yoga Mastering the Basics by Sandra Anderson and Rolf Sovik, Psy.D., the daily use of a nasal wash cleanses the nasal passageways and maintains healthy tissue functioning. Here is a direct quote from the book:

“A person who regularly drinks water through the nose in the early morning at the end of the night becomes intelligent, develops eyesight as acute as an eagle, is spared the graying of hair and the wrinkling of skin, and is freed from all diseases.”

—from theYoga-Ratnakara, a treatise on Ayurvedic medicine.

Well, that was all I needed to hear. If the neti pot could magically help improve my eyesight, get rid of graying hair and wrinkles, I’m in. I went to my local pharmacy and proceeded to purchase my very own blue plastic neti pot. I was a bit dismayed to find out that the neti pot was not just for yogis, as the version I bought was found in the cold-remedy section of my local drugstore and apparently is great to use if you are experiencing severe sinus issues.

I went home, anxious to start my miracle youth-defying transformation, and fired up my own batch of salt water and got ready to take the pot for a test-drive. Like many things in life, the first time was not a pleasant experience. The warm water going through my nasal passages felt creepy, and I’m sure I was not in the proper position, because the water started to go down my throat, I gagged, jerked upright, and had that disgusting feeling of salt water down my nose. Not one to quit, I waited a few minutes and tried again on the other side, sure that if I got my body positioned properly, I would be successful. Unfortunately, the left side results were equally disastrous, and I spent the remainder of the day trying to get my ears to stop popping from what must have been the residual effects of the water that did not flow properly through my nasal passages.

Despite continuing to hear the benefits of the neti pot and the endorsements from my fellow students, I still, to this day, have never had another tryst with my neti pot. So, that is my neti pot confession. I guess I’m doomed to have unclean nasal passages and none of the spiritual and antiaging benefits the neti pot ritual brings. I confess: I’m a non-neti yogini.

I would really love to hear from all of you about your neti pot experiences. Do you use it regularly? How did you overcome the fear of sucking water down your nose? What do you put in your water? Is there a special posture or tip you can share to make it all better? Do you seriously feel like it is improving your health and helping with the aging process? Bring it on; I want the truth. Please help me get the courage up again to dust off my neti pot and give it a go one more time.

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