Hatha Yoga: Sutra Neti

Sutra Neti (nasal cleaning with thread) is an advanced process for cleaning the nose. It supplements and performs the same function as jala neti, namely it cleans and removes blockages in the nasal passages. In this way, free flow of air through both nostrils is achieved, this being so important for many yogic practices as well as general health.

In jala neti, salt water is used to clean the nose; in sutra neti a catheter (a long, thin rubber tube) or twined strands of cotton thread are passed through the nostrils.

Scriptural references

The ancient yogis had great respect for sutra neti and the benefits it bestowed on the practitioner. It is mentioned in various texts, the most descriptive of which is from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “Take soft cotton threads about one foot long and insert them through the nostril and out the mouth. The siddhas (accomplished yogis) call this neti. One should use a suitable thickness of twined strands (sutra), there being no hard and fast rule. In the practice one end of the sutra is put into one nostril, the other nostril is closed with the thumb or ring finger. Then do pooraka (inhale) through the nose and rechaka (exhale) slowly through the mouth. By doing this again and again the end of the sutra will enter the back of the mouth. Now hold the end that is in the mouth and the other end that is already outside and pull the sutra backwards and forwards.

“The alternative technique is to put one end in one of the nostrils, and closing the other nostril, do pooraka (inhalation). Then close the nostril containing the sutra and do rechaka (exhalation) through the other nostril. By doing this again and again the sutra will eventually come out of the second nostril. Now pull both ends of the sutra alternately. But very few persons can do this second method.

Sutra neti purifies the kapala (frontal brain) and removes impurities from the nose. The power of eyesight is increased and the eyes become bright.”

The method described in this ancient text is quite difficult, especially the second form. Even if one could do them, a lot of time would be required, far more than most people of today have available. If you want to try the traditional methods then go ahead, but there are far easier techniques of attaining the same end. It is these modified methods that we will teach you in this topic.