The Art of the Neti Pot came into existence in India about 5,000 years ago, created as one of the ways that the body is cleansed in preparation for practicing Yoga. In India and other parts of Asia, the Neti Pot is as commonplace as the toothbrush, and is understood to be just as beneficial to health and cleanliness. "Neti" is a Sanskrit word that means "nasal cleansing," and the actual practice of nasal irrigation is known as "jala neti."
Today, it is used to keep the nasal passage clean and clear, and is even used 3 or 4 times a day by those who live or work in heavily polluted areas! The practice helps to keep the nasal passage clear of allergens, excess mucus, and germs that may enter the body through the nose. Use of the Neti Pot is not only a preventive measure; it also helps to soothe the swollen membranes of the nose and clears the nasal cavity of disease and irritants (see post on "How to Beat the Flu...Naturally") According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are three elements of the body (or "dosha") that need to be kept in balance: "vata" (air), "pitta" (fire/heat) and "kapha" (water). Cleansing with the neti pot was established in order to correct "kapha" imbalances by providing needed lubrication to a problem area in the body.
A Neti Pot is very inexpensive (about $10.00 - $15.00). I use 1/4 tsp Salt & 1/4 tsp Baking Soda to 1 cup warm water in the Neti Pot. This solution does not burn or sting the nose, in fact, I think it feels very soothing. I have found the best way to use the Neti Pot is in the shower, after washing up. That gives the nasal passages time to start to open up with the warm steam of the shower. I try to use the Neti Pot eveny night before going to bed to clean out the dust and pollutants of the day. This PREVENTS colds, allergies and infections.
A great way to get rid of chest congestion is taking in deep breaths and exhaling hard with the mouth wide open and making a "haaaaa" sound. This might make you cough, but it helps to expel the mucus out of the chest.