When it comes to nasal cleansing there are two practices: neti and nasya. Neti is a process where you use salt water to cleanse the nasal passages using a neti pot. With nasya you lubricate the nasal cavities with oil.
You might be wondering why you should cleanse your nostrils, but if you think about it, you’re constantly breathing toxins from pollution in the air, fragrances in perfumes, air fresheners, candles and so on. Much of these toxins fills up your nasal passage and cleansing them can prevent and even heal allergies, colds and flus. You also improve your breathing, cure headaches, release tension and overcome sinus infections. Ayurveda also states that nasal cleansing is important because the nose is the direct route to the brain and the doorway to your consciousness.
When practicing neti, first make sure your neti pot is clean. Then boil one or two cups of water to disinfect and allow the water to cool to a comfortable temperature and pour it into your neti pot. Add 1/2 teason sea salt per cup warm water and stir. Stand over a sink, place the tip of the pot into your nostril and tilt your head sideways without leaning your head forward or backward. The water should enter one nostril and flow out the other. Breathe through your mouth as you work and do half of the water on one side and then the rest on the other.
When you’re done, you can lean forward and practice kapalbhati to get all the water out of your nose. (powerful exhalations through your nose)
If your nose is completely stuffed, you can stand up, reach your arms forward with closed fists and thumbs pointing up, bring your knees all the way up towards your chest as if your running while standing still. Do this for a minute or two and you’ll notice your nasal passage will open up.
The practice kills bacteria and other debris that cause allergies and illness. It is not necessary for every day, but highly recommended during cold, flu and allergy season. If you have sinus infection or allergies, you can practice up to three times a day.
Nasya is a practice to lubricate the nasal passages with oil and its best preformed after neti cleansing. The salt water from neti can dry out your nasal passages, which stimulates your body to secrete more mucus to protect the membranes. Its an effective way of preventing a stuffy nose. It is also said to improve the quality of your voice, improve your vision, promote mental clarity, release tension headaches, heal sinus congestion, and release stress. Nasya oil is typically comprised of sesame oil and medicinal herbs, but if you cant get hold of it, you can just use sesame oil.
There are two ways of practicing nasya. You can either put some oil on your pinky finger and insert it into your nostril. You wont get as deep, but it will still have some effect and is a great starting point.
The other way however is more effectice. Lie down on your back, preferably on your bed with your head backward of the edge of the bed or over a pillow so your head is leaning back. With a dropper, release 5-10 drops of room temperature nasya oil in each nostril. Inhale deeply and lie still for a few minutes so the oil can deeply penetrate your nasal passages. It will feel a bit strange in the beginning, but is worth the benefits!