Nasya – The Pathway To Our Inner Pharmacy
Breathing is so natural yet we hardly ever think about it. Interestingly, seventy percent of waste is eliminated through the lungs just by breathing. In his book, Breathing: The Master Key To Self-Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil comments on the importance of breathing on our overall health. He states, “improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be to simply learn how to breath correctly. There’s no single more powerful or more simple daily practice to further your health and well-being than breathwork.”
“The nose is the door to consciousness and the pathway to our inner pharmacy.”
– Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician
Similarly, Ayurveda, explains that “prana” – the vital life force, enters the body primarily through the breath, via the nose which provides the flow of intelligence from one cell to another; i.e. cellular intelligence. Even further, prana is also the subtle energy that flows in the body through various channels and is responsible for our vitality and dynamism [“chaitanym”]. When prana is optimal, an individual will be active, alert and attentive while being happy and cheerful.
Ayurvedic Treatment Of Nasya – Dr. Sandeep Madaan, M.D. Ayurveda
Nasya – Nasal Administration Of Medicated Oils
The air we breathe has all kinds of stuff in it – from oxygen to dust, pollution, allergens, bacteria, viruses, mold, and countless other things. Essentially, the nose helps clean the air we breathe and healthy breathing, free of congestion, is important to ensure proper entry and flow of prana into the body. For example, disturbed flow of prana due to the accumulation of “kapha” [phlegm, mucous] can manifest as certain conditions such as sinus congestion, migraine headaches, certain eye or ear disorders, and if severe – may even cause seizures. Therefore, nasya, the nasal administration of herbally infused oils helps to protect the nasal passage while facilitating the cleansing process by removing excess doshas [i.e. bodily humors] and by relieving sinus congestion.
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3 Easy Steps:
Nasya should be performed with the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic professional. Ideally, nasya should be done on an empty stomach.
1. Lie down with head tilted back.
2. Place five drops of nasya oil in each nostril.
3. Sniff deeply and remain lying for about one minute.
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Five General Types Of Nasya
This description is merely to briefly explain the five general types of nasya and is not, by any means, comprehensive. Therefore, always seek the guidance and supervision of a trained qualified Ayurvedic professional before attempting to perform nasya.
Virechana Nasya: this cleansing action is performed often with dry powdered herbs [i.e. calamus, brahmi, jatamamsi] which are recommended for certain conditions such as sinus congestion, headaches, hoarseness of voice, etc.
Bruhana Nasya: this is a nourishing and nutritional nasya and is especially good for vata conditions and conditions of depletion; i.e. dryness in voice, dry sinuses, fear and anxiety, drooping eyes, etc. Common substances used are plain ghee, shatavari ghee, bala ghee, ashwagandha ghee, medicated milk, cucumber juice, and various other medicated oils.
Shamana Nasya: is a balancing nasya often helpful in chronic pitta and inflammatory conditions along with hair loss, dandruff, or even ringing of the ears. Common substances include brahmi ghee and/or tikta ghrita [“bitter ghee”] for pitta conditions. medicated vacha preparations for vata and/or kapha conditions.
Navana Nasya: this is a lubricating nasya often used for either “pitta-vata” conditions or “pitta-kapha” conditions.
Marshya Nasya: this type of lubrication involves using the little finger which has been dipped into a small amount of medicated ghee and gently inserted into the nostril.
General Indications For Nasya:
- stiffness or pain in head, neck, shoulders or jaw
- general headaches and migraine headaches
- sinus pain and sinus congestion
- dry nasal passages
- toothache, loose teeth, and receding gums
- hoarse voice
- emotional stress
- sleep disorders
Signs Of Properly Performed Nasya
When nasya is performed properly, you will notice release of tension in your neck and both your nose and throat will feel well lubricated. Likewise, your throat will feel clear and melodious, free of excess phlegm. Finally, you will notice a sense of lightness and clarity to your mind and properly performed nasya will promote sound and restful sleep.
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Vitality – Taking Care Of Your Life-Force
Breath is essential to life. This demonstrates firsthand how the breath is directly connected to the mind. It’s the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we leave. The mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and directly influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. The ascetic yogis have known for centuries that the breath has amazing recuperative and rejuvenating powers. By controlling the breath, the yogis were able to alter their state of mind – rather, they were able to directly perceive the various “koshas” which create our state of being. For example, Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet powerful technique that helps settle the mind, body, and emotions. Nadi shodhana is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts especially if you’re experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
– Textbook Of Ayurveda: General Principles Of Management And Treatment; Vasant Lad, M.A.Sc
The Ayurvedic Press. Albuquerque, New Mexico