Question: After suffering with congestion and a sinus infection, I decided to try using a neti pot...a system of nasal irrigation using warm water and a saline solution. I found instant relief that lasted several hours. However, this morning...I discovered its ties to yoga. Apparently, neti is one of six purification techniques performed prior to practicing yoga as a way of preparing the body for the yoga practice. My intent is strictly medicinal, but do its ties to yoga serve as warning that this is a practice that should be avoided?
Response: The neti pot is just one method of "irrigating" the nasal passages. Another includes using a bulb syringe to introduce a therapeutic liquid solution into the nasal cavities. Some believe this may cleanse and remove infectious microorganisms from the nasal passageways, reduce the frequency and duration of colds, and alleviate the effects of allergies. Although "yogis" place a spiritual emphasis upon this procedure, it remains a natural process using elements of God's creation. Similarly, yoga involves stretching exercises. It is not the "stretching" that is in question but the occult meaning behind the stretches that should concern us. Yet no one need use any element of yoga (such as a mantra) in order to stretch one's muscles, a healthful exercise that may benefit the body.
There are many procedures that might be used by those practicing yoga. Just as yoga teaches meditation, so the Scriptures also teach "meditation." There is a vast difference, however, between what the Bible teaches regarding meditation (Joshua:1:8, Psalm:104:34, etc.) and the teachings of yoga. Medicinal techniques (such as the neti pot) may be used in yoga and other unbiblical practices. Those who practice yoga may also drive automobiles. Their use of a natural process created by God (i.e., internal combustion) doesn't preclude usage by a Christian. There is much in this world that is neutral but that may be used in a corrupt manner.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy:2:20, "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor." Some people mistakenly think the vessels of gold and silver are to honor, while those of wood and earth are to dishonor. Not so. There are vessels of gold and silver that are also to dishonor and those of wood and earth that are to honor. The key is in the usage. In a similar manner, irrigation of the nasal passage is a simple medical preventive procedure, and we don't believe the corrupt use by those practicing yoga precludes us from using the technique, but for a far different reason. If the neti pot itself, due to the fact that it was introduced through Ayurvedic medicine, remains an issue, why not simply use a bulb syringe? The potential benefit would be the same and there certainly wouldn't be any connotation of using a device developed by practitioners of yoga.