For you arriving late to the party, there are two practices that you might look toward when you have a cold, allergies or are struggling with anything related to your sinuses. Neti, or jala neti (jala means water), is the practice of gently flushing your sinuses with salt water, while nasya uses drops of oil to nourish your sinuses. Both neti and nasya are useful practices, but there is a time for each of them.
Neti, which comes from the shat karmas (six cleansing actions) of yoga, keeps your sinuses clear and clean. This is good to use in the spring or if it is the season of your specific allergies. Likewise, if you go for a jog in Mexico City, you might want to include neti in your cleansing routine. When not to neti? If you are already congested or if you are prone to dryness. If you are congested, neti has the possibility of pushing the mucus deeper into your sinuses, further complicating things. As for dryness, using a neti pot can actually make your sinuses dry, prone to becoming inflamed and irritated. This can also happen with excessive use. Think of what happens when you wash your hands without moisturizing them. They become dry and cracked. When this happens in our sinuses, it can create the perfect environment for infection or overproduction of mucus as the protective barrier has been lost.
Nasya oil is great for preventing the problems that come with dry sinuses, in addition to keeping a good barrier between you and pollutants or allergens. Thus, nasya is a great practice for the drier seasons like fall and winter. One big missing piece, however, is that nasya is good for so much more. The qualities of oil (heavy) and the herbs infused into it (often brahmi, scullcap, bhringaraj) make it a good treatment for anxiety, headaches, insomnia, memory loss and even Bell’s Palsy. Some even say it reduces wrinkles!
For the short of it, use your neti in the spring and summer and nasya in the fall and winter. Don’t use them at the same time, and keep in mind that nasya is more than just a practice for your sinuses.