We are in the midst of a COVID 19 Corona virus pandemic and here I come across this article from way back in June 2003 when SARS was at its peak in Hong Kong, my home city. Coincidence?
A journalist from the SCMP newspaper, intrigued on hearing about the Jalneti classes I was teaching to hundreds of my students, amongst them doctors, scientists, medical researchers and experts, decided to come in to my studio to interview me and learn about this practice herself. This article is an incredibly poignant, powerful and timely reminder of the need for mankind to embrace and practice alternative and ancient healing modalities. A timely reminder of the importance of Ayurveda and natural medicine in a new world that we don't quite understand today, where a new virus with no cure turns our world upside down, where fear and panic has overshadowed common sense and reason.
Jalneti is one of six Ayurvedic yogic "kriyas" or physical healing techniques - a method of nasal irrigation that can helps the body reprogram its defense mechanism against virus attacks, sinusitis, nasal infections such as hay fever, allergies, sinusitis and other upper respiratory complaints like sore throats and coughs, post nasal drips, inflammation of tonsils and adenoids.
Highly effective for bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, as well as recurrent middle ear infections, migraines, stress and epilepsy, this remarkably simple yet powerful technique is safe and has been practiced for over thousands of years.
Here is the full article published in the South China Morning Post, newspaper, Hong Kong on 23 June 2003 by Adele Rosi. Read on...
"I've done some weird and wonderful things in my time and nasal irrigation, or jal neti, looks set to join the list. As I stand with my head tilted over a wash basin, about to pour a lukewarm saline solution up my right nostril and out through the left by means of a spout attached to a special neti pot (the size of a small mug), I wonder whether I'm going to survive the experience: death by drowning or by embarrassment. What kind of nasal nasties, I ask myself, is the water going to flush out?
Jal neti practitioner par excellence and founder of Sachananda Yoga Shala in Central, Kavita Khosa, who is talking me through the Indian technique, reassures me that I will live to see another day and helps me find the right position. The key, she advises, is not to inhale but to breathe through the mouth. The water goes up my right nasal passage, down the other and out of my left nostril in a steady and thankfully clear trickle. It takes a matter of minutes and feels a bit awkward but is not nearly as uncomfortable as I had imagined. And nothing scary comes out.
'The water has to be body temperature and its salinity the same as blood because you are putting it into your body and don't want to shock it,' explains Khosa. 'It's easy to make - just warm water and table salt - but if the solution is too salty, too hot or too cold, jal neti will feel uncomfortable. Just taste the solution first - it should be only faintly salty.'
When I have blown my nose as Khosa instructs and repeated the process on the other nostril, my nose feels cleaner, my eyes brighter and my head lighter. Whether or not it is a coincidence, but that night I sleep like the proverbial baby.
Jal neti (meaning 'water' and 'cleansing' respectively) is a branch of hatha yoga called kriya, or 'action'. As Khosa explains, there are six kriya cleansing techniques as laid down in ancient Indian scripts, of which jal neti is the simplest. (Others include vaman - flushing out toxins by drinking enough salt water to make yourself sick - and the throat-constricting vastra dhauti, which involves the ingestion of a long piece of gauze that is pulled out of the mouth along with the contents of the stomach.) It is believed to cure ailments relating to the eyes, nose, throat and brain although you don't have to be ill to benefit and can use jal neti for general health maintenance.
Lining the nasal passages are microscopic hairs called cilia, which are coated with a layer of mucus. They catch dust, dirt, bacteria and other inhaled particles, such as pollen, and when functioning properly prevent these undesirables entering the lungs and bloodstream. Jal neti washes away the pollutants from the cilia, allowing for clearer breathing at the very least, and moisturizes the nose.
'People seem to equate jal neti with colonic irrigation and think it is disgusting,' says Khosa. 'People are also put off because they associate water up the nose with discomfort, choking or drowning but it is simple and can't harm you. Think of it as being on a par with cleaning your ears or navel. It has been practiced for thousands of years and its benefits are backed by modern research. It only does good.'
Documented survey results during the past 10 years show that 92 per cent of people who suffered from general tension headaches noted an improvement after practicing the technique and 87 per cent said they had greater mental clarity. Eighty-four per cent of those questioned, who were plagued by sinusitis, had fewer symptoms and reduced their use of nasal sprays, while 79 per cent gained quicker relief from colds and caught them less frequently. (Incidentally, if you are fighting a cold, practice jal neti twice a day even if it's the last thing you feel like doing.)
By clearing the sinus cavities, jal neti enables the body to fight nasal infections and allergies such as hay fever, asthma, sinusitis and colds, and upper respiratory complaints such as sore throats and coughs. As a knock-on effect, it flushes out the tear ducts and keeps the eyes free from congestion and strain.
'Jal neti works on the frontal brain so it's great for stress and stress-related headaches, middle-ear infections and tinnitus [ringing in the ears],' explains Khosa. 'It improves smokers' sense of smell [by increasing the sensitivity of the olfactory nerves] and is highly effective for illnesses such as bronchitis because clear nasal passages reduce the need to breathe through the mouth. In a very clean environment such as the Swiss Alps, jal neti wouldn't be necessary but it's essential in a polluted city such as Hong Kong where people have high-pressure lifestyles, Khosa says.
'I'm a great proponent and would love to teach health-care workers how to do it because it helps the body's defence mechanism against Sars,' she explains. Khosa, who comes from Pune in India, has been practicing jal neti daily for three years. When she started to learn about the technique she was instantly hooked. Now, her whole family are converts - including her five-year-old son.
'It is wonderful for kids,' she enthuses. 'Other kriyas are forbidden to children under 14 because they work on the hormonal system and can cause premature ageing in kids, but jal neti is safe once they have mastered the technique and are under adult supervision.'
Although sessions have been temporarily suspended over the summer, Khosa holds occasional workshops at her yoga centre to introduce and teach the technique. A maximum of eight participants a class watch both a live and a CD-Rom demonstration before heading off for some hands-on training. They are also given their own stainless-steel neti pot. Until the workshops resume in September, Khosa will give clients one-to-one tuition.
'People are turning to alternative methods of healing and there are so many yoga centres in Hong Kong but what is surprising is that none of them teach this aspect of yoga,' Khosa explains. 'You get such a high from doing it and it is great for your health. If it wasn't, why would it have survived all these years?'"
I think we've come full circle and there is no time like now to adopt this practice. In these times of Covid19, jalneti is an effective and super simple practice to cleanse our respiratory system at home. As a general practice also, even if you dont have any issues or suffer from any allergies and suchlike, it is really wonderful if you want bright sparkling eyes, a clear head, restful sleep (who doesnt) rid your nasal passages of pollution and for an overall sense of well being after the kriya. Try it and let me know how you like it! Kx