Ever had those times when those buggers in your nose were bugging you? When you kept wanting to pick your nose? Maybe you live in a dry climate and got that problem all year round or you find yourself in the dry season of late summer and fall, your nose dries up and you just want those babies outta there. Too bad that picking your nose isn’t socially acceptable. Grr. What to do?
Some people turn towards the neti pot thinking that pouring salt water through the nose will clear it. And it does no doubt, but it also dries the mucous lining of the nose and sinuses. Over time the neti pot is depleting and long term will keep those buggers around. Oil is coming to the rescue in the form of a practice called Nasya.
Nasya is a sanskrit word which simply translates as nose, belonging to or being in the nose, or snuff. For our purposes here it refers to a practice where oil is applied or snorted up the nose. Yep that’s right, just like the old cowboys snorted that tobacco, only you are going to snort oil. It is way better for ya.
The nose is the doorway to prana (=lifeforce) and thus a very important part of the body that should be nourished. Lifeforce is what keeps us alive. Have an abundance of it, well circulated in the body, and you will feel vibrant. Have none of it and your are dead. Anything in between will KEEP you alive but not make you FEEL alive. A well lubricated entrance door is a great welcome for that lifeforce. In a way, you greet the guest of honor like a king. In return, the guest will also honor you, feed you and nourish you.
Why in the world would I want to snuff oil up my nose?
Nasya is part of the daily Ayurvedic self care routine called Dinacharya. Dr. Frawley, who is an authority on Ayurvedic medicine, claims that of all of the daily practices nasya is the most important for maintaining health. This is likely because the uninhibited flow of prana in the body is key to health of the body overall. We gotta keep the entrance door clean and clear. Also nasya improves the circulation of prana to the brain, which means more oxygen in the brain, which means you will feel more awake, alive and vibrant, which in turn means you will do all your other self-care practices with more ease, which brings you great health. Puhh, that is some long chain reaction. Dr. Lad, who is yet another authority on Ayurvedic medicine, says that Nasya unfolds intelligence. Well, I definitely want that!!!
Here is what the ancient Ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita has to say on the subject.
“Nasya removes clouding or dullness of the sense-organs, imparts a sweet aroma to the mouth, and strength to the teeth, jaw bones, head and neck, arms, and the chest, and guards against an attack of baldness. It also can prevent Vyanga, premature graying of the hair and the premature appearance of wrinkles and furrows.”Sushruta Samhita 
On the most practical level nasya lubricates the nose which means bye bye buggers. It also reduces anxiety, like any application of oil on or into the body will. It also clears and strengthens the mind and stimulates the nervous system in a gentle way, not in a sharp way like coffee would.
Indeed, from my own experience I can say that daily nasya is quite extraordinary in waking up the brain and bringing mental clarity. I can focus much better at work and my mind is more focused and calm overall. Here is what else nasya will do for you:
- Relieves discomfort from the shoulders upward meaning anything off kilter in the shoulders, neck, face and head
- Improves headaches, allergies and congestion
- Improves the sense of smell. According to medical journals smell is the first sense to go. Not the eyes or the ears, but the sense of smell which of course will have a profound effect on taste and thus your enjoyment of life.
- Improves vision…another great benefit as we get older
- Enhances the voice
- Breaks up old belief patterns….I can personally attest to that.
- Cleanses the sinuses
- Improves sinusitis… another one I can personally attest to. See story below
- Removes fatigue, tiredness and weakness of the body
- Improves sunken and puffy eyes
- Removes dark circles under eyes…. drop a bunch of years off your back, look younger and feel more fresh
Here is my brief success story of how nasya has recently helped me control pain behind my eyes and in my face, and reduce inflammation in my sinuses. A while back I noticed an intense pressure behind my left eye. Very uncomfortable and concerning. After a visit to the dentist, I came to the conclusion that it was either a tooth or a sinus infection. I had to go to a specialist to confirm. During the days I was waiting for an appointment, I snorted an anti-infection nasya oil up my nose, twice a day. The pressure and pain reduced by 80% almost immediately. I thought that was remarkable. The specialist confirmed a week later that it was a tooth infection after all (which nasya wouldn’t be able to get rid off) but what it did do is reduce the inflammation in the nearby sinuses and relieve the pain and discomfort I was feeling.
Who should not do nasya
Before we answer this question we need to distinguish between “little nasya” and “big nasya”. Little nasya is when you put some oil on your finger and rub it around in your nose. Big nasya is when you lie down, tilt your head back and snort the stuff up the nose big time.
Little nasya can be done by anyone, at any time of day. Big nasya is more profound in its effect and thus should be avoided by a few people and certain circumstances as not to disrupt the flow of natural prana or reverse it too quickly. Here it goes:
- Young children
- Immediately after exercise
- After vomiting or acute diarrhea
- When pregnant
- While intoxicated
- During fever
- During menses
- On a full stomach
- When dehydrated
What Nasya Oil to use
The simplest oil you can use is sesame oil, sunflower oil or ghee. Sesame oil is heavier and more grounding and well suited for Vata imbalances. Sunflower oil is lighter and less warming. Therefore well suited for Pitta and Kapha imbalances. Ghee is cooling and therefore best suited for Pitta imbalances.
Medicated nasya oils are also widely available now from different practitioners and companies. Thank you internet. You can choose an oil that is specific for your needs. For example, when I suspected a sinus infection I chose a nasya that was anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious. Now that I am done with that, I choose an oil that expands my consciousness. The addition of the herbs has an extremely profound effect on the brain, mind and consciousness. I am all about that.
How to do Nasya
Nasya just takes a couple of minutes, literally!!! You have no reason not to do it. We all can find 2 minutes in our day and you can feel the results right away. Here is how to do it most properly:
- Lie down flat with your neck extended so that the nostrils are facing up and are open. Lying on your bed with the head hanging down on one side works well.
- Ideally use an eye dropper to administer the oil
- Place 3-5 drops of oil into one nostril, close the other nostril with the fingers and stiff up lightly to bring the oil deeper into the nasal passages
- Do the other side
- Then wait about 1 min 15 seconds (just telling you what the ancient texts say) to allow the medicated oil to sink in
- Go to a place where you can spit out any remaining mucous or oil. A toilet boil works good for this purpose.
Do not swallow the mucous-oil combo. Spit it out, and then rinse and gargle with water. You likely will feel the need to blow your nose quite often over the next hour or so. That is good, mucous is being released and your sinuses are being cleared.
As I said this whole procedure does not take more than a couple of minutes. But I know how it goes, we are often in a rush, aren’t we? If that is the case, you can also do nasya standing up. It will not penetrate as deeply, however, and will thus not have the same astounding effects. But it still works.
When and how often should I do it?
The best time to do big Nasya is in the morning one hour before breakfast and in the evening before bed. Stay clear from food by at least one hour.
Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta is an expert on nasya and nasya oils. She has developed a number of extraordinary nasya oils for different applications. Her guru said: “There is big nasya and little nasya. Do Big Nasya twice a day. Do Little Nasya 10 times a day.” That seems about right. Just keep a small, leak proof container in your purse and every-time after you go pee do little naysa. That way it is easy to remember and 10x will be an easy pacey task ….and it keeps the buggers away.
 David Frawley,Neti: Healing Secrets Of Yoga And Ayurveda (Publisher: Natl Book Network 2005/10/30) 89
 Dr. Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 3, pg 102
 KavirajKunjalalBhishagrantna, Susruta Samhita Set Of 3 Vols (Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan 2002) 784
 Dr. Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 3, pg 102