Prana | If it flows freely, you will be healthy
In the west, Prana, or what the Chinese call Chi and the Japanese call Ki, is often looked at as an impossible force. The truth is, for those of us who grew up being taught about this force, feel it, understand it, study it in ourselves, and call it by name, it is strange to understand why the concept could be so foreign.
As my teacher Dr.Svoboda puts it,
"Prana is the life force, it is the most important relationship we have. If Prana is not circulating, obstruction happens and when things can't flow they promote ill-health.
Air element carries Prana and in its more refined form is called Prana. Life is all about movement, Prana is that movement that causes things to cohere well"
How could we ensure the flow of Prana?! Read on to find out!
The Ayurvedic classical texts describe the fascinating versatility of nasya karma. The most well known form of nasya karma is lubricating nasya drops. Less familiar forms include:
Cleansing (shodhana) Nasya
Powders like calamus powder inhaled through the nose to cleanse out excess kapha
Building (bruhana) Nasya
Ghee or a medicated ghee placed in each nostril to help in states of depletion
Balancing (shamana) Nasya
Specific decoctions or oils given to balance a particular dosha
The many forms of nasya give the treatment a wide therapeutic range and field of action for a multitude of imbalances and challenges that people face every day—including hair loss, sleep disturbances, excess drowsiness, vata nervousness, anxiety, and light-headedness.
The nose is the gateway to the head and to our consciousness. It therefore follows that nasya karma can have profound effects on the head and subsequently, the body. In this post, we will specifically explore the treatment of kapha stagnation in the respiratory tract (prana vaha srotas) with nasya karma as well as other therapies to alleviate the congestion that so many struggle with for months on end.
Bringing flow, prana, to a chronically clogged prana vaha srotas is not always an easy task and can take persistence and patience (sometimes taking months). Retraining the movement of prana and increasing the agni of this channel so that kapha remains balanced can take time. It is important for Kapha not to lose faith and stay motivated.
1. Begin with the Core
All excess doshas in the body first accumulate in the digestive system and from there they spread to the weak spots of the body, such as the sinuses. Some basic recommendations to aid in digestion and prevent accumulation include:
Eating a kapha-pacifying diet and following a kapha-friendly lifestyle
Drinking tea with lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric sweetened with raw, local honey every morning
Taking Kapha Digest before meals
Performing a cleanse, to stoke the metabolic fire (agni) and eliminate excess kapha
2. Bring Freedom Back to Prana Vaha Srotas
This is the hardest step when addressing kapha stagnation. The below DIY techniques can help promote freeing Prana Vaha Srotas:
Take a long, hot bath with eucalyptus bath oil and Epsom salt.
Boil a pot of hot water and remove it from the stove. Place a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water then place your head over the pot, covering it with a towel to retain the steam. Take slow, deep inhalations of the steam and blow the nose as the congestion loosens up.
Wrap a handful of mustard seeds in a thin piece of cloth. Warm the pouch on a low, heated pan. Test the heat on the palm, before gently covering the sinuses with the pouch.
Crush an onion and take a deep inhalation of its scent. Try this after any of the above steps.
3. Sustain Healthy Prana Vaha Srotas
Once Prana is able to flow freely within your system, sustaining a healthy prana vaha srotas requires a combination of herbs and Ayurvedic techniques:
Nasya Karma. Nasya karma moves a substance through the prana vaha srotas, guiding prana.
Consider a neti pot with filtered saline water or a decoction of licorice (must get help from a practitioner)
Five (or up to ten drops initially) of the Nasya Oil in each nostril can be an alternative to the neti pot or a supplemental maintenance practice during a different time of the day. This oil has a blend of essential oils that are highly beneficial for the prana vaha srotas.
Pranayama. Regular practice of Bhastrika (Bellows Breath), Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath), and Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) will ignite the agni of the channel through the movement of prana.
Pippali. Pippali is a profound herb with a strong affinity to the sinuses and lungs, increasing agni and keeping kapha in balance. Take a ¼ teaspoon of pippali with a ½ teaspoon of honey a couple times a day.
Lung Formula. Lung Formula is cleansing and overall supportive to the respiratory tract. The ingredients warm the sinuses, melting excess kapha, and keep kapha in a more dynamic, liquid form so that it can perform its function of clearing irritants optimally, without becoming stagnant and congested.
Kavala Graha. This is a practice of holding a decoction or a medicated oil in the mouth, which acts to draw toxins out of the head. For sinus problems, consider holding a licorice or triphala decoction for twenty minutes. (Boil ½ teaspoon of herbal powder in a cup of water down to half a cup. Strain and cool the decoction.)
Application of the above techniques may be difficult on your own, therefore it is always recommended that you speak to an Ayurvedic practitioner for assistance.