Updated: Apr 18
Spring is upon us! And for those in the Ayurvedic world, this means Kapha season. Daffodils are popping up, the weather is warming up, and growth is happening all around us. Within all of this fresh spring activity, many of us are recovering from lingering colds, coughs, allergies and even the flu. Even though the Spring brings beauty, light and warmth; the transition into spring weather and Kapha season can be rather challenging for our bodies; especially our respiratory systems. So, what's a yogi to do? Neti and Nasya are two powerful tools that you can use to transition into Spring.
Neti and Nasya are traditional Ayurvedic elements and treatments that are commonly part of the Dinacharya, but can also be a more acute tool for application of medicinal herbs, clearing of the nasal passages, increase the flow of Prana (life force), and deepen your Pranayama (breath work) practice.
The term ‘neti’ literally means ‘to guide’. As Dr. David Frawley explains in his book, Neti: Healing Secrets of Yoga & Ayurveda, neti “refers to the water that guides or draws our energy through the nasal passages, opening them up along the way”. We introduce water to the nasal passages by using a Neti Pot. Neti pots, look like small tea pots, with an extra long spout that happens to fit perfectly in your nostril, and are typically ceramic. The pot is filled with lukewarm water, and often if desired, salt to create a saline like solution. These salt solutions (either store bought or homemade). It is important to only use filtered water, tap water that has been boiled and left to decrease to lukewarm, or distilled water. A good recipe for homemade solution is:
Add 1 teaspoon of kosher, pickling, or canning salt to a 16-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Alternatively, you can use our Neti Salt solution.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the glass.
Stir the solution.
Nasya is the Ayurvedic term for 'nasal therapy'. Nasya can be performed on it's own, or in conjunction with Neti. Traditionally, nasya oil is made up of a blend of sesame oil infused with organic herbs that help clear, uplift and restore the nasal passageways and sinuses. It is appropriate for all doshas and helps to restore the vitality of the respiratory system, oleate the nostrils and promote proper breathing. An herbal-based nasya treatment offers support by quickly reaching the brain, mind, and consciousness, where these sub-doshas reside. By alleviating stress, releasing tension, and clearing stagnation, breathing becomes easier, and prana flows freely. Plus, it feels good!
DAILY USE: Place 1-2 drops on clean fingertip & apply into nostril. Repeat on opposite side.
WEEKLY USE: With head tilted back, apply 3-5 drops of oil into nostril. Inhale Deeply. Repeat on the opposite side.
In our modern world, poor air quality is rampant. Pollution, chemicals and smog are typical in urban environments and negatively affect our breathing. Our noses are amazing filters, but we neglect cleaning those filters out when we don't do things like Neti and Nasya. Through the practice of neti and nasya, we are able to effectively cleanse the nasal passageway, remove excess mucous, improve focus, to support brain function and strengthen vitality.
Some conditions that can greatly benefit from these practices include sinus allergies, deviated septum, nasal polyps, colds and flu, poor digestion, headaches, asthma, constipation, obesity, acne, arthritis, heart disease, insomnia, weak immune function, chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety.1 Please note, the use of neti and nasya alone may not cure these conditions; yet, the use of these simple, effective practices can help reduce symptoms of dis-ease.
Things to Consider
The best time to perform this is in the morning. As we lay down sleeping at night, mucous accumulates. Neti allows us to clear the excess mucous and any other debris in our nasal and sinus passages.
Please note: Avoid nasya when pregnant, feeling ill, or experiencing a sinus infection, and immediately after using a neti pot for nasal rinsing.
While nasya and neti offer many similar benefits, their effects are very different. Just as oil and water do not mix, these practices can create disharmony by introducing opposing energies into the nasal cavity and, by extension, the mind.
It is largely for this reason that we advise allowing some time to pass between these practices. Also, it is important to ensure the full drainage of saline after using your neti pot, so we recommend waiting at least 24 hours before using Nasya Oil in the traditional way. However, you can absolutely use Nasya Oil still, by following the Daily Use directions. Give yourself a day off from Neti once a week, and follow the weekly Nasya directions for optimal benefit. Yoga and Ayurveda teach us that the breath is one of the most powerful tools for transformation that we hold. Neti and nasya help us to breathe deeply and connect fully with our world. The additional health benefits that they can bring are vital and important to an easier transition to Spring.
Frawley, David. Neti: Healing Secrets of Yoga & Ayurveda. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. Lotus Press. 2005.