Definition - What does Neti mean?

Neti is a Sanskrit term derived from the roots na and ti, which together translate as "not so." It is a nasal cleansing technique that is one of the six purification techniques recommended by the "Hatha Yoga Pradipika," an authentic text on Hatha yoga. These six purification techniques are called the shatkarma. They are practiced in order to cleanse and strengthen the body, in addition to keeping it illness-free.

Performing neti involves using salt water or thread to clear the nasal passages. It is believed that this not only has a number of mental and physical benefits, but that it can also aid in clairvoyance.

There are two types of neti: jala ("water") and sutra ("thread").

Yogapedia explains Neti

To perform jala neti, a neti pot is used. The neti pot has a conical spout and is often made of ceramic. The pot is filled with warm salt water. The head is tilted to the side, and the pot's spout is inserted into the top nostril. The individual breathes through the mouth, keeping it open. Water is slowly poured into the nostril, and it is allowed to drain through the lower nostril. The same process is then repeated on the second side. When both sides have been cleansed, the excess water is blown out of the nostrils using kapalbhati, a kriya/pranayama breathing technique.

Sutra neti is performed with a soft rubber catheter and a rolled cotton string that's been dipped in melted beeswax. The individual assumes a squat position, then tilts the head slightly backward to insert the catheter into one nostril. The thread is gently pushed inside. Once the catheter reaches the throat, it is pulled out through the mouth, leaving the other end still outside the nostril it was inserted into. The thread is then pulled in gentle movements, back and forth, about 30 times. The catheter is removed and the process is repeated on the opposite side.

The many benefits of neti include:

  • Cleanses the nasal passage
  • Drains dirt and bacteria out of the sinus cavity, thereby strengthening immunity against infections
  • Reduces risk of respiratory conditions and cures existing ones
  • Stimulates the sensory organs in the head
  • Stimulates tear ducts
  • Improves vision
  • Relieves headaches
  • Improves focus
  • Boosts memory power

To perform neti correctly, it is recommended to be practiced under professional supervision until the practitioner is comfortable with the procedure. Those with a severe cold and/or chronic ear condition must avoid practicing neti.

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