Nasya Oil and Therapy - How to use Nasal Oil for pranayama?

We discuss the meaning of Nasya Kriya and how to incorporate nasal lubrication in your daily routine using Nasya Oil as explained in Ayurveda, a sister science of yoga.


Nasya kriya is the nasal administration of nasya oil and decoctions infused with medicinal herbs to influence the higher centers of the brain [1]. There is a wide range of oils that can be used for different outcomes – some improve general health and others are condition-specific.


Singers can use it to improve voice quality, archers to attain a clearer vision, and yogis used it to enhance prana-flow, and nourish higher faculties. We will discuss nasal lubrication to reduce stress, improve breathing, and release tension to deepen your yoga practice.


Nasya kriya is rooted in Ayurveda – the traditional health system that originated in the Indian sub-continent. Nasya oil has been used for thousands of years to lubricate nasal passages. Called Nasyam, Nasya Karma, and Nasya therapy, there are 3 aspects to it –

  • Nasya Oil – Daily application for wellbeing and nourishment

  • Nasya Karma – To correct imbalances in the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha

  • Nasya Therapy – Medicinal and Curative Applications

Therapeutic uses or Nasya Therapy is for medical purposes. It should only be performed by an Ayurvedic expert. We will discuss generic and on-the-go ways to use Nasya as a daily self-care practice. Our focus is on how to use it to improve wellbeing and deepen your yoga practice.


Three Types of Nasya Oil Applications


1. Nutritional and Nourishment


Swaddling the nasal cavity with oil moisturizes the skin and has a calming effect on the nervous system. It is especially useful for people who have rough, dry, or thin skin. Depending on the type of oil, nasya can reduce stress, calm the nerves, and improve sleep quality. Generally, over-the-counter nasya oils are safe to use on a regular basis.


Nasya oils generally contain cold-pressed sesame oil or ghee/clarified butter made from A2 cow milk. Almond Oil and Kumkumadi Oil are also used to improve the quality of the skin, hair, and for deep nourishment of sense organs.You can use Ashwagandha ghee, Shatavari ghee, and oils sold by Ayurveda brands as 'Nasya Oil.'

Follow instructions on the packaging carefully and skip nasya in humid weather.

2. Nasya Oil for Dosha-balancing


In Ayurveda, the 5 great elements – fire, air, ether, earth, and water – are the building blocks of the human body. Every human is born with a permutation of these elements called a dosha. There are three doshas - Vata, Pitta, Kapha - that determine our innate or inherent constitution.


In simple words, good health is linked to our ability to structure our diet, lifestyle, and environment to maintain the balance of the three doshas. This is just a newbie summary. Doshas are a profound theory, and we encourage readers to explore it further.


For a start, take a “Dosha Quiz” to discover your dosha or consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for an expert assessment. Nasya oils are available for every dosha. The following are the oils commonly recommended in Ayurvedic texts -

  • Vata Dosha – Sesame Oil and Ksheerbala Taila

  • Pitta Dosha – Herbal or Cow Ghee and Anu Taila

  • Kapha Dosha – Anu Taila

3. Nasyam or Ayurvedic Therapeutic Treatment


Ayurvedic experts administer a blend of herbal oils, medicated powders, or other infused liquids through the nostrils. It is done after a thorough assessment of the individual to determine what oils or herbs to use. Upon administering herbs using meticulous traditional procedures, the medicinal qualities are absorbed into the system via the nerve endings in the nasal cavity.


In Ayurveda, this is considered to be an effective way to influence the nervous system. It is used to treat sinusitis, migraines, tinnitus, and balance doshas, among other things. Nasya therapy is also a part of ‘Panchakarma’ – a five-step treatment to detoxify the body.


Bear in mind that this section is for informational purposes only. Ayurvedic treatment must not be attempted at home. Consult an Ayurvedic professional trained in administering medications and herbal extracts as Nasya therapy or for the treatment for medical conditions.


What is Nasya Oil and how to use it?


Nasya Oil refers to an Ayurvedic formula sold as nasal moisturizers, nasal cleansers, or for dosha-balancing, blocked sinuses, and everyday nourishment purposes. The oil is used for holistic health and is typically sold in small quantities (10ml) in a glass bottle with a dropper. Ingredients vary based on the product, purpose, and use case.


Many Nasya oils can be used daily as a part of a self-care routine. Either way, ensure that you select the appropriate oil - certified, sustainably sourced, and organic - from a reputed brand. Refer to the instructions on the product packaging for dosage and other information.


The oil is warmed slightly (a touch warmer than room temperature) for faster absorption and assimilation. It is done by placing the bottle of nasal oil in a vessel filled with warm water for a few minutes. Always test a drop on your forearm to gauge how hot it is before using it.


Steps to use Nasya Oil with a Dropper

  1. Lie down in a supine positing (on your back).

  2. Place a pillow under your neck and angle nostrils to face the sky or ceiling.

  3. Open the bottle and use 2 or 3 drops or the quantity specified in the product packaging.

  4. Coat every side of the nostril with the drops. Take a good whiff for the oil to penetrate.

  5. Pinch the nose with gentle pressure and massage the nostrils from the outside.

  6. Take a few deep breaths.

Nasya Oil Benefits

  1. Moisturizes the nasal cavity and mucous membranes

  2. Improves sense of smell and functioning of sensory faculties

  3. Clears sinuses and may prevent respiratory allergies

  4. Strengthens the teeth and provides relief from a stiff jaw or neck

  5. Pacifies (balances) Vata Dosha

  6. Delays or prevents greying of hair.

  7. Alleviates headaches caused by migraines

  8. Reduces the harmful effect of fumes, pollutants, and dust.

  9. Long term use maintains eye health

  10. Enhances the flow of prana in the higher faculties of the brain

Nasya Oil and Pranayama


Life-energy or prana enters us with each breath we take. The nasal cavity, its inner walls, and the passages are a part of a complex network. The nose interacts with the air we breathe to filter and warm it. Lubrication of the nasal passages moistens the in-breath. It has a subtle but significant effect on our sense organs and higher faculties.


Nasya promotes clarity, enhance the intake of prana, and soothes the nervous system. Generally, Nasya can be done upon waking up, after brushing, or after exercise. In our context, the ideal time to do it would be after yoga asana – right before you settle down for pranayama or meditation. Do it, get into Corpse Pose, and practice three-part breathing for a few minutes.


How to apply Nasya Oil to enhance yoga breathing and meditation?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

  • Take organic sesame oil or cow ghee (clarified butter).

  • Dip your little finger in the oil and insert it into one nostril while pinching the other.

  • Gently massage the inner wall/passage of the nostril to apply it evenly.

  • Do the same procedure with the other nostril

  • Take a few deep breaths and allow it to settle.

In Ayurveda, this is called Marshya or Pratimarsh Nasya. There may be an instance when you feel the taste of the oil in your throat. That’s normal. If there is excess oil, you can spit it out. You can use Nasya oil every day.


We recommend doing it a few minutes before your pranayama session using cold-pressed, ghee (clarified butter) or organic sesame oil of the highest quality. Alternately, you can identify your dosha and use a dosha-balancing nasya oil (from a reputable brand) as per their instructions.


Use no more than 2 to 3 drops of oil in this method of nasya. It can be self-administered. Moreover, nasya oil can be used twice a day – once during the morning hours and again during the late afternoon. Keep the contraindications in mind while choosing and using nasya oil.


Contraindications

  • Nasya is contraindicated in nasal infections, flu, pregnancy, indigestion, and Kapha dosha.

  • It is not advised while recovering from nasal or oral surgery.

  • Avoid Nasya during rains, after a bath, or after sunset, especially before bedtime.

  • Wait for 30 minutes before you eat food. Don't do it for an hour after meals.

  • Children below 8 years and people above 75 should not use nasya oil.

  • It should not be combined with any other nasal products.

  • Avoid if you are allergic, hypersensitive, or get easily irritated.

  • Keep a gap of 30 minutes between Jala Neti and Nasya.