Sutra Neti (nasal cleansing with thread)
Preparation:This practice involves passing a length of cotton thread through the nose. Traditionally, a specially prepared cotton thread, sutra, was used. Several strands were tightly wrapped together and dipped in melted beeswax.
The width was about 4 mm and the length 36 to 45 cm.
Nowadays, however, the practice is more conveniently performed by using a thin, rubber catheter lubricated with melted ghee, butter, edible oil or one’s own saliva, so that it slides easily through the nasal passage. The size of the catheter depends on the individual nasal passage.
Beginners may prefer size 4, but progress to size 6.
Technique I: Basic practice
Take any comfortable standing, sitting or squatting position.
Relax the whole body.
Tilt the head slightly back. Gently and slowly insert the narrow end of the catheter or waxed end of the thread into whichever nostril is flowing more freely.
As the thread is inserted, twist it so that it enters the nostril easily. Always keeps the tip pointing downward towards the base of the nose. Never push the catheter straight up because the nasal cavity is behind the nose, not at the top of the nose.
When the thread reaches the back of the throat, insert the index finger and thumb, or the middle and index fingers, into the mouth.
Pull the catheter or thread gently and slowly out through the mouth, leaving a few inches of thread hanging out of the nostril.
This action may cause retching at first, but it will become easier with practice.
Hold each end of the sutra or catheter with the fingers.
Very slowly and gently pull it backward and forward, no more than 1 5 times on the first attempt.
Remove it slowly through the nose and repeat the process with the opposite nostril.
Technique 2: Advanced practice
After completing technique 1, leave the thread with one end passing through the mouth and the other through the nostril.
Gently insert the waxed end emerging from one nostril into the other nostril and pull the end through the mouth.
In the final position, both waxed ends emerge from the mouth. Loosen the hard wax at the tip of each end so that the individual strands again becon1e separated.
Push the two ends together so that they merge with one another, and twist the thread so that the two ends become joined. If the join is too thick, some of the threads may be cut away so that the join may pass easily through the nostrils.
The thread is now circular.
Slowly draw the join into the mouth, progressively sliding the thread through the nostrils.
Eventually the join should be located between the entrance to the two nostrils.
Disconnect the join.
The thread now enters one nostril and emerges from the other; it no longer passes through the mouth.
Gently pull the sutra to and fro, a few times only to begin with. If there is the slightest discomfort, stop the practice immediately.
Pull one end of the thread and slowly withdraw it from the nose.
Breathing:Breathing is performed through the mouth.
Duration: The practice takes about 1 0 minutes.
Once every few days or once a week is sufficient.
Awareness: Physical – on relaxing the body and moving the catheter or thread smoothly and slowly.
Sequence:Sutra neti should be performed before j ala neti as the latter will flush out all the impurities and particles in the nose which have been dislodged by sutra neti.
Precautions: Do not use force under any circumstances. The interior of the nose is very delicate and any undue force could cause damage. After persistent attempts, if the thread or catheter will not pass through the nose, consult a competent teacher. Make sure that the sutra is perfectly clean before inserting it into the nostril. I t is best not to try sutra neti until j ala neti has been perfected.
Contra-indications:Those people who suffer from chronic bleeding in the nose should not do sutra neti. Anyone with nasal ulcers, polyps, or severe malformations of the nasal septum or turbinates should first seek the advice of a yogic or ayurvedic doctor.
Benefits:The benefits are the same as for j ala neti. In addition, however, sutra neti can rectify the problem of deviated nasal septum. If one or both nostrils are not flowing freely due either to deformed bone or fleshy outgrowths, the regular friction of sutra neti causes these obstructions to disappear within a few months.
Practice note: Although the catheter is easier and quicker, it does not clean the nasal passages as effectively as the cotton thread. Technique 2 is possible with some types of catheter only