Winter Care for the Yogi – Part 1, Nasya Oil

Pick up some nasya oil for the season at either TYB location!

Okay yogis, what is your most important tool in yoga? This is not a quiz, but think about it. Move away from props and poses. Take a deep breath. That’s right; your breath.

Our entire respiratory system begins at the tips of each nostril. Ayurveda calls the respiratory system as a whole the Prana Vaha Srotas – The bodily channels that take in and carry prana, or life force.  The root, or múla is the left chamber of the heart and the mukha, or opening, are the nostrils.

Yogis pay close attention to their respiratory system as we understand its value and power to heal, to transform energy. When the nasal passages dry out, the sinuses can overproduce mucus to compensate, leading to congestion and even infection. There are many reasons why nasal passages dry out (from the environment, one’s constitution or neti pot usage with salt), leaving us all more prone in the cold, dry months of fall and winter.

Oiling the nasal passages is a lipid layer of protection, swaddling the pranic body. It comforts the nervous system and acts as a physical barrier from the elements. Uncongested breathing is essential to smoothly move prana through the body and mind, thus nasya oil promotes mental clarity.

Protection against the cold, dry, rough qualities of air is especially important in the winter. Ever been in dry and cold conditions and experienced burning nostrils? Or even a nosebleed, or dry nasal crust? Oiling the nostrils has an instant effect of comforting these symptoms. Nasal oil, or nasya in Sanskrit, delivers lubrication that is also helpful for ailments above the shoulders such as head, jaw and neck pain and aiding good sleep and stress reduction. Wow, that’s a lot of benefits for ‘just’ putting oil up your nose!

Nasya, or nasal, oil can be done with organic sesame oil. Plain ole sesame oil! Or herbs and essential oils are added to the nasya oil to deliver additional subtle effects to nourish and soothe the mind.

Application of oil is best done one of two ways. Applying oil to a fingertip and massaging the inner lining of the nostrils is the first method. This can be done multiple times. Great for beginners! Second method, using an eyedropper place 3 drops in each nostril, gently sniffing and massaging to allow absorption further into each passageway.

There are nasya oils on the market made by tried and true providers of quality Ayurvedic products.  The Yoga Bar offers nasya oil from Elemental Ayurvedic Apothecary, available now at both Cincinnati OTR and Newport KY studios.

Lisa Snowden is a certified ERYT yoga teacher and NAMA certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor living in Kentucky and Cincinnati. Hear her practical Ayurveda and yoga wellness tips via Facebook and visit Ayurvedayogalife.com to sign up for her newsletter.

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