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Description of the Six Acts

(4) The Cleansing of the Nose (Neti)

This is done in two ways, (a) with water (jala neti), (b) with a string (sutra neti).

(a) Water cleansing of the nose is done in the morning after cleaning the teeth and should be practiced before the string cleansing. Observe through which nostril the breathing is passing, close the other and draw water up. The water will flow down into the throat and at first there will be a feeling of itching and irritation in the whole of the back of the head, but this, with practice, will disappear. The water may either be ejected through the same nostril or through the other one. One or two quarts of water can thus be taken in at a practice. Having taken in through one nostril the process may be reversed and the water taken in through the other.

This practice greatly increases the strength and brilliance of the eyes, but where there is any acute affection of the eyes or a beginning of fever, the nose should not be cleansed. Many people drink water every day through the nose, but this is not considered good, for no water which has cleansed the nose should be swallowed.

(b) String cleansing: After practicing the water cleansing of the nose, take a soft string of ten to fifteen strands, one cubit in length and without knots. Polish it with wax and soak it in water. Then introduce it into that nostril through which you are breathing at the moment; draw in the string by strong successive inhalations, keeping the other nostril closed with the finger. When the end of the string comes into the mouth, catch it firmly between the finger and thumb and draw it out through the mouth. After a few days' practice one end can be caught through the mouth and the other end held near the nose and the string pulled backwards and forwards, which is called "string rubbing" (gharshana-neti). Repeat the process through the other nostril. It is also possible to take the string in through one nostril by inhalation and out through the other by exhalation.

There are some who consider this practice wrong and avoid it, although there is nothing really to fear from it if it is done only every three days. The water cleansing may, however, be done, every day. If there is a tendency to sneeze during the practice, breathing should be stopped for a second or two before beginning.

"Neti purifies the head, it gives superhuman sight and quickly does away with all diseases affecting any organ situated above the elbows." (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2, 30.)

Should there be any irritation or bleeding inside the nose, due to the cleansing, some cows' milk ghee should be sniffed up twice a day. Those affected with such troubles as jaundice, acidity, phthisis, yellow fever, pain in the nose or eyes; or red eyes, headache and affections due to biliousness, should not practice the cleansing of the nose. If, however, it is done, "string rubbing" must be avoided, at all costs.

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