Ayurveda loves oil for many reasons. Applied topically not only can it be an organic moisturizer, but also a medicine delivery system via the body’s largest organ, the skin. Applying this lipid layer to the dermis also has amazing benefits for the nervous system, helping to create a sense of containment and swaddling for the pranic body. These benefits are especially important in our culture, where even if you weren’t born with a lot of vata (air + ether elements) in your constitution, your vata can easily be imbalanced due to our fast-paced, multi-tasking, flying from here-to-there, all-the-while-on-sensory-overload lifestyles. Therapeutic applications of oil, through self oil-massage or other means help to ground and warm those light, cold, rough, mobile vata qualities so that we can feel grounded in the present moment more often.
One of my favorite therapeutic oil applications is called Nasya. Nasya is the practice of lubricating the nasal passageways with oil. According to ayurveda the delicate mucous membranes of the nostrils and sinuses, as well as the Eustachian tubes of the ears require adequate lubrication to remain healthy and balanced, especially in the colder, dryer fall and winter months. Nasya delivers this necessary lubrication and can be helpful in a number for a number of conditions, including: head, neck, shoulder, or jaw pain; headache and migraine; sinus pain and congestion; allergies; dry nasal passages and nose bleeds, insomnia and emotional stress, amongst many others. And if your someone who runs a little dry, and always has a bit of a dry crust in your nose, you’re going to feel like a whole new person!
Nasya can be applied a couple of different ways, and there are many specialized medicinal nasya preparations but we’ll look at two typical applications that you can use daily.
Nasya for Newbies:
The first is the finger in your nose option. This is a great nasya newbie option, or for the on-the-go application. Put a few drops of nasya oil on your hand, and with a clean pinkie finger swab the oil inside the nostrils until they feel well lubricated. Then closing one nostril at a time give a gentle sniff to help move the oil upward. I always have a bottle of nasya oil in my bag, and will use this method a couple times a day when I’m feeling particularly dry, or if there’s any air travel happening that day. This practice is a must for you frequent fliers! This method can by used anytime.
Next Step Nasya:
The second application method provides a deeper, more through, and thereby therapeutic effect. Lying on your bed with your head tipped off the edge, you will drop 5 drops of oil directly into the nostril. One drop each is applied to the top corner, bottom outer corner, bottom inner corner, outer edge, and center of the nostril. After oil has been applied to each nostril sniff a few times to bring the oil up into the sinuses. Keep the head tipped back for a minute or so to allow absorption to occur. The method can be used daily. It needs to be spaced out from showering and eating by an hour, so using this method first thing upon waking works well for many people. If you’re a neti-er, you’ll want to space nasya out from your neti, as you don’t want the oil to trap any moisture from your neti pot in your nose.
There are a number of nice general use nasya oils on the market. These are a few of my faves...
- Banyan Botanicals makes a nice gentle Organic Nasya Oil
- the Ayurvedic Institute’s Super Nasya is stimulating, and a great morning nasya oil
- the Himalayan Institute's Pure Bliss is a relaxing and nurturing blend
- Clarity, also from the Himalayan Institute is stimulating and cleansing
So find some nasya oil and get some of that unctuousness in your nose. If you already use Nasya Oil I'd love to hear why you love it. If you're just starting this practice share your thoughts or questions in the comments. Enjoy adding this practice to your personal oily revolution.