It is a general term which involves taking medications through the nose. Breath is the Life Force –Prana- and a clear passageway of this Prana to our brain is essential for clear thinking and vitality of the brain. An oxygen-deprived brain is foggy, cloudy, dull and unresponsive. The breath which is free to flow directly into the brain on the other hand, improves blood circulation and rejuvenates the mind. This practice has been performed by yogis and householders alike for thousands of years as part of their morning routine for very good reason. In today’s polluted environment, this is ever more essential for our well being.
Benefits of Nasya :The healing potential of herbs through the nasal passages is that they are fast acting on the whole head area as they travel quickly through the mucous membranes and directly to the brain. They are highly effective on the immediate environment of the sinus which a source of problems for many – more of an issue than we may realise. The air we breath now is often polluted and full of irritants ,and and we need to cleanse and protect the delicate mucous membranes of the internal airways Indeed, Nasya is an ideal treatment for asthma, chronic sinus infections or general blocked or dry sinus’, sensitivities to air conditioning, snoring, throat conditions, colds and flu’s, as well as tightness in the throat, neck , jaw and shoulders.
The brain is our master controller of the body, and removing impurities and blockages in this area does much to alleviate stresses in the minds processes, to become clearer and calmer. The clearer and more nourished our nasal passages are, the more directly we can receive vital Prana –life force – from our breath. So treating this delicate and key area of our body is key for our spiritual upliftment.
A Nasya may be in the form of herbal powders either snuffed or smoked or application of herb infused medicated oils applied through the nostrils . Which method may be more applicable to your condition may require a little expert advice, however I will offer a basic guide here, to introduce and inspire you to try these wonderful therapeutic methods.
A general rule for Dosha would be that
Vata need unctuous oils such as organic ghee or pure cold press sesame oil, with soothing nourishing herbs such as shatavarie, ashwagandha, gotu kola or nervines such as skullcap, shanka pushpi or jatamamsi. Essential oils for vapour are oregano, eucalyptus, sage, clove or cinnamom.
Pitta need cooling herbs with ghee such as gotu kola, and brahmi and essential oils for vapour such as peppermint or basil.
Kapha are best with snuff or smokes or essential oil steam inhalations with herbs such as vacha/ calamus , eucaluptus, ginger, clove (as an essential oil vapour only) or sage. Medicated oils with camphor, eucalyptus, ginger or vacha may be applied internally.
In general, Vacha or calamus is an outstanding herb for removing congestion of any dosha in the head. It may be used as a snuff to clear the mind when you have to focus or study or make an important speech – as its name in Sanskrit indicates the power of true speech.
How to Apply the Various Nasyas
A snuff is easy to apply and can be done at any time of the day
-Take a small two finger pinch of finely powdered herb and place in the nasal opening.
-Open the finger pinch whilst simultaneously breathing in through that nostril and closing the other nostril .
-Repeat on other side.
-Note the tingling sensation and blow the nose as necessary to clear any congestion leaving the head.
A Nasya Oil takes a little getting used to, however once accustomed to it, is very soothing and nourishing.
-Best not to do just before bed as need at least an hour for the excess oils to drain to avoid congestion in the night sleep.
-Have the medicated oil ready in a dropper bottle warmed to body temperature. The easiest way to do this is to place the bottle in a cup of warm water for a few minutes.
-Lie down with your shoulders on a cushion and your head hanging off the cushion, with your nostrils pointing up in the air.
-Close one nostril, and place the dropper line (with as much oil as will fill the line),at the entrance to the other nostril – breath in as you squeeze the liquid into the nose.
-Repeat on other side.
-Remain in this position for another 3-10 minutes.
-When you sit up you may feel the oil slide down the back of the throat – it is good to spit this out as it may contain toxins you have just cleared from the sinus’.
-Blow your nose as necessary.
Notice how calm and soothed you may feel after this treatment.
Steam Vapour : a classic way to inhale healing herbal properties and appropriate for any time of day.
-Fill a cup or bowl with hot water and have on the table with a towel ready.
-Place a few drops of essential oil as mentioned above in the water.
-Immediately cover with the towel, and slide your head under the towel, being careful to cover the eyes with the cloth so the oils and the heat do not affect the eyes. Have a straight back and breathe fully through both the mouth and nose alternately.
-Have tissue handy to remove excess phlegm dislodged by this method.
Notice how deep and clear and invigorating your breath feels after this treatment.