5 reasons to try a neti pot

Cleanliness and hygiene are expected in our culture. We wash, cleanse, buff and moisturize our way to a clean and healthy body on the outside, but what about internal cleansing? When we think of internal cleansing, gross and uncomfortable processes come to mind. I realize that the idea of using a tiny teapot to pour saltwater up your nose may be off-putting, but what's worse: gently cleansing the sinuses or never cleansing the sinuses? Hmm.

"In the U.S., sinus problems are the #1 reason people see a doctor. With increasing pollution and chemicals in our environment, there is an enormous rise in the number of people who suffer from various forms of nasal congestion and respiratory illnesses." - healingdaily.com 

neti pot
Standard porcelain Neti Pot - dishwasher safe
Neti is an important part of Shatkarma ("shat" meaning 6 and "karma" meaning action), the yogic system of internal body cleansing. Using 6 effective, albeit unconventional methods to cleanse the stomach, colon, nasal passages (neti), eyes, abdominal column and lungs, yogis believe that they are better prepared for yoga asana practice when the body is fully cleansed. Devout modern-day Hatha yoga practitioners will admit that not all 6 methods are necessary or beneficial for everyone, so I won't bore/disgust you with any detail on the other 5 (google at your own risk). But considering that a strong and successful breath is the most important part of yoga, (ujjayi actually translates as "victorious breath") I don't think it's too crazy to presume that us modern-day yogis could benefit from this ancient sinus cleansing practice that has been practiced for thousands of years. Following are 5 reasons why you might at least consider possibly maybe trying a neti pot someday...
neti pot
This neti pot could be a nicknack.

 1.) Nothing works like a neti. Nothing. I don't care what your go-to allergy or sinus medicine is, I can assure you, it is not as efficient or as effective. Before my true I'm-so-stuffy-I'll-sell-my-firstborn-child-desperation sunk in, I sniffled my way through almost every allergy medication on the market. Allergies had me waking up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and glaring at every flower and blade of grass I laid my itchy eyes on during the day. It took me a few months of this misery to accept the fact that I did indeed have allergies and then a few more subsequent weeks to work up the nerve to buy a neti pot. I'm sure the clouds don't part for everyone's first neti experience, but that's how I felt. I didn't realize how stuffy I really was; I hadn't taken a full, unobstructed breath in months, so the relief was truly extraordinary.
neti pot
Plastic Neti Pot

2.) Neti pots last indefinitely and are cheap. Purchase a name-brand pack of pills and you'll be set back $10-$15 for about 2 weeks of suppressed symptoms. Buy a neti pot for $7-$10 plus a small bag of non-iodized sea-salt for $4 and you have months worth of relief, even if you use it multiple times per day. The neti pot itself lasts forever, unless you get a porcelain one and accidentally bash it off of a porcelain sink.

3.) If you're really sick, you can use a neti pot every 2 hours. Since you're just using a warm saline solution, just like gargling salt water, using a neti pot often when you're sick is actually beneficial. Unlike loading up on Dayquil or Mucinex, you're actually doing something good for your body.

4.) Using a neti pot can help to naturally prevent allergies and colds. Think about it: all the dust and bacteria that's settling deep in your sinuses is flushed out.
pink neti pot
Adorable pink WaiLana Neti Pot
"Many health practitioners consider the nasal passages to be the doorway for most diseases. The nasal passage, with its finely-tuned mechanism of hairs and mucus membranes, which are intended to catch and restrain foreign entities from entering our bodies, actually is one of the ways nature protects us from diseases. Unfortunately, this filtering mechanism can become overloaded through high exposure to pollution, chemicals, fragrances, pollen and dust. Cleansing this filter regularly allows it to operate more efficiently."

horn neti pot
Rhino Horn Neti Pot.
5.) You will feel better. Often times, when I use my neti pot just for maintenance, I truly don't realize how stuffy I am on a regular basis until AFTER I use it. Don't wait until you're in the midst of a sinus infection to try it (unless, like me, true desperation is the only thing that could posses you to shove a teapot up your nose), but consider how it can benefit you now, giving you an advantage before cold and flu season strikes or improving your workout routine or yoga practice.
stainless steel neti pot
Terrifying stainless steel Neti Pot!

 I understand it's intimidating. When I first got mine, it sat and loomed at me from the bathroom shelf for a few days before I worked up the nerve to try it. Before I tried it, I thought about drowning, getting water in my brain somehow, and how much I hate getting water up my nose while swimming. It's not like that. It might take a few tries to achieve a comfortable and successful angle, but neti pots all come with specific directions and pictures. Lots of people nerdier and less bashful than me have even posted how-to videos. Whether your a yogi working on your pranayama or an allergy sufferer just trying to make it to winter, there's no denying the benefits of using a neti pot. And thanks to Dr. Oz (who, by the way, is a yogi), the neti pot is becoming a lot more mainstream. You can find them along with the fine grain non-iodized sea-salt at your local health store or online. As fall approaches and cold season descends upon us, consider giving it a try this year and see what it does for you!