I’ve recently discovered the wonders of the Neti pot. If you’ve never heard of a Neti Pot, or nasal irrigation, here’s an illuminating NY Times article about it.
I actually got my Neti pot a while ago, but it took me a month or so to warm up to the idea of using it. My understanding is that this sort of thing has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for a long time (like thousands of years). I won’t say much more about the Neti pot’s history, since I’m more or less ignorant about it, but I can say a thing or two about my experience with it, and why I think it makes sense as a yogi to use a Neti pot on a regular basis.
The first time I tried it, I got it all wrong and was pouring water all over my face. Basically, what you’re supposed to do is send water up one nostril and out the other. You can breathe through your mouth while doing this, so you don’t have to hold your breath. The idea is to flush out the nasal cavity, and I expect this is a much more effective way doing of that than, say, simply blowing your nose really hard.
One of the things we try to do in our yoga practice is develop a smooth, clear, steady breath. This is really hard to accomplish if you’re all stuffed up, if you have allergies, etc. Using a Neti pot can help to clear out the junk in your nose so you can breath more freely. I find it helps a lot, although it does take some practice to be able to get it just right. And, as I’ve found, you definitely don’t want to use it if you are really stuffed up in the nose, because the water won’t flow through.
The last caution I have to offer is that if you don’t use the Neti pot correctly, you can get water stuck in funny places. I don’t know much about how the ears and nose and throat are all connected, but I definitely send some water down the wrong places and get kind of a headache if I’m not careful with how I use the Neti.