The nasal cavity is considered the gateway to the brain, mind, and consciousness, according to Ayurveda. Through the nose, prana—the vital force, flows. Entering the body with every inhale, with every breath. One reason why nasya, an herbal oil based therapy, is one of five key ayurvedic cleansing and restorative therapies. The treatment detoxifies the nasal cavity, by clearing and lubricating the respiratory pathways. Promoting the assimilation of prana. While also relieving sinus congestion and dryness. Two imbalances that can amplify issues with memory, nervous disorders, mental fog, emotional stress, and tension in the head, face, sinuses, jaw, throat, neck, and shoulders.
A time-tested therapy supporting imbalances above the clavicle bone, nasya has been practiced for thousands of years in India. The herbal oil drops improve circulation to promote clarity and boost overall mood. Balancing prana vayu, sadhaka pitta, and tarpaka kapha. The three sub-doshas that govern inhalation, processing emotions, and lubrication.
Consisting of a face and neck massage along with steam helps to open up the respiratory pathways, encouraging circulation while beginning to loosen accumulated mucus. After the initial preparatory steps, a few drops of oil, specifically formulated to address the individual ‘s imbalanced dosha, are gently dropped at the base of each nostril. Then taken in through inhalation to begin lubricating the nasal cavity and decongesting the breathing passages.
The oil counterbalances the dryness, which is often considered, the root cause of many respiratory, allergic, inflammatory and mental/emotional conditions in Ayurveda. The oil coats the cavity, forming a protective layer from airborne irritants and pollutants. The heaviness and lubricating qualities of oil calm vata dosha. In turn, supporting the central nervous system and imbalances associated with it.
While oil is known to lubricate, it can also support with decongestion. Oil moistens old, accumulated sticky or dry phlegm and coats viscous mucus. Helping both to dislodge to open up the breathing passages for easier, longer and deeper breaths. In decongesting the sinuses, nasya supports enhancing cerebral circulation, relieving tension and reducing pain. Allowing prana to flow and assimilate throughout the body. The proper flow of prana, the master of all energy as said by Dr. David Frawley, can bring about positive change not only in the body but also the mind.
Practiced for thousands of years, this time-tested therapy can be part of a panchakarma program or a stand-alone treatment. Like neti, nasya can also be self-administered as well. Incorporated into a daily routine or dinacharya using tri-doshic or non-herbal oils to help keep the nasal cavity decongested and moist. For those with long-term sinus issues, congestion, colds, muscular tension or experiencing high-stress, nervous disorders, nasya administered via an Ayurveda practitioner, panchakarma therapist or vadiya (Ayurveda physician) is recommended for maximum benefits.
5 KEY BENEFITS OF PUTTING OIL IN THE NOSE
Protection: Using oil in the nose lubricates the nasal cavity and sinuses, offering protection from the recycled air, and creating a barrier against pollen and environmental pollutants.
Breath Deeper: Nasya fosters deep inhalation by opening up the nasal passage, allowing prana to flow, aiding in relaxation, releasing stress, and clearing blocked energy.
Clear Blockages: The oil clears stagnation from dry accumulated mucous and relieves congestion, opening up the nasal passages, sharpening the sense of smell, and reactivating breathing through the nose.
Think Clearer: Because the nose serves as the gateway to the head, keeping the nasal passages well hydrated promotes mental clarity, sharpens the memory, and aids in creating emotional stability.
Relieve Dryness: Regular application of nasya oil relieves dryness, nourishes the nervous system, eases tension in the head, neck, throat, and jaw, and fosters calming, stable energy.
HOW TO DO NASYA AT HOME
- Comfortably lay down on your back either on a bed, long couch or the floor. Then tilt your head back as far as it will go. Without the neck, feeling stressed. The aim is to have the nostrils face the ceiling. For neck support, place a small pillow beneath your neck or a rolled up towel.
- If desired, take a small amount of a breath free balm or a warming oil like sesame, and gently with some pressure massage the forehead, eyebrows, and sinus area (cheeks). starting inward and working your way out. This helps prep the area, promotes circulation and loosens accumulated mucous.
- With your head tilted back, place 3–5 drops of nasya oil at the base of each nostril. Trying to prevent the dropper from entering the nose. This helps to keep the dropper uncontaminated.
- Then take a big sniff to allow the oil to enter deep into the nostrils. Lubricating and coating them. Take a couple more breaths while closing one nostril at a time.
- Then breath normally to allow the oil to absorb while gently massaging the nose and sinus for a couple minutes to support absorption, if desired.
DIVE DEEP: NASYA & THE SUB-DOSHAS
Nasya offers support for imbalances related to prana vayu, sadhaka pitta, and tarpaka kapha—the three sub-doshas that govern inhalation, processing emotions, and lubrication. Prana is the movement, sadhaka is transformation, and tarpaka is protective nourishment. All three of these sub-doshas are important to the function of the brain. They work individually while being interconnected. When one is out of balance, the other two could be impacted and vice versa.
For example, if there is sinus congestion from excess kapha (sticky, mucous), it could hinder the flow of prana (air), causing neck stiffness or mental unclarity. Impacting our ability to concentrate or discern our thoughts. The inability to breath, smell, or sleep can lead to frustration, impacting overall mood. Nasya offers support as the therapy quickly reaches the imbalanced sub-doshas.
When prana vayu is out of balance, a person may experience anxiety, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and neurological disorders. Prana vayu is located in the cranial cavity. It moves downward and inward in the head and is responsible for inhalation and the movement of the mind, which includes our perception, sensations, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. How prana vayu flows is determined by our thoughts and it plays a role in our emotional response. If the mind has excess movement, is unstable, or there is excess dryness in the body, it can disturb the nervous system. This can impact how we breathe and, in turn, affect the flow of prana throughout our body.
Sadhaka pitta is the caretaker of the heart and the seat of consciousness and resides in the brain and the heart. This sub-dosha is responsible for knowledge, understanding, and comprehension. It helps to intellectually process our thoughts, feelings, and emotions by transforming and digesting them to help prevent emotional blocks. Through the heart, it fosters compassion, understanding, and sharing the manifestations of love. When out of balance, there could be challenges with digesting thoughts and emotions, the ability to discern, overwhelming fear, anger, attachment, and difficulties related to memory.
Tarpaka kapha nourishes the brain, where it is predominantly present in the white matter. It is also present in the cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds the soft brain tissue and the spinal cord. For the nerve cells, tarpaka kapha provides nourishment and fosters contentment. It is also a protective layer that lubricates the sinuses and nasal cavity. With its ability to retain and record, tarpaka kapha holds on to memories that can either protect us or, when out of balance, they can crystallize, making it challenging to shift thoughts (prana), transform emotions (pitta), or change old patterns. When out of balance, tarpaka kapha holds on to negative memories, fosters stagnation, creates congestion and dry sinuses, dulls the sense of smell, and can lead to memory loss, lethargy, sadness, and emotional instability.
Please note: Avoid nasya when pregnant, feeling ill or experiencing a sinus infection, and immediately after using a neti pot for nasal rinsing.