Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Ayurveda for Healthy Sinuses


It’s estimated that over 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year. While many people automatically reach for over the counter medicine, the ancient practice of Ayurveda, instead, outlines multiple natural remedies for allergies. Shiro-Abhyanga-Nasya (SAN) is highly effective treatment for Sinusitis, or sinus congestion. It includes a head, neck, face and shoulder massage that stimulates the lymph in the head and helps drain the sinuses. Eucalyptus steam is administered along with medicated nose drops. The whole treatment is about 50-60 minutes and brings clarity and purity to not only the sinuses, but the entire body and mind. 

To fully understand how Sinus/SAN works, we first must understand a little bit about the sinuses. Sinusitis, or sinus congestion, is categorized by the inflammation of sinuses (air spaces) located behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and nose. There are four types of sinuses: frontal sinuses above the eyes, ethmoid sinuses behind the nose bridge and between the eyes, maxillary sinuses in the cheek bones, and sphenoid sinuses in the upper nose and behind the eyes. All four sinuses open into the nose and join the nasal passageway through a continuous mucus membrane. The sinuses are responsible for maintaining pressure, air filtration, air circulation, and internal balance, as well as provide protection of the skull through shock absorption. Although sinus blockage can be caused by anything such as the shape of one’s septum, it is most commonly acquired from allergies and common colds, and from the Ayurvedic perspective low agni/digestive capacity and/or accumulation of ama/toxins and stagnation.    

The first portion of Sinus/SANs treatment is Shiro Abhyanga, a head, neck, face, and shoulder massage followed by a facial lymphatic massage. This portion of treatment lasts about 15-30 minutes. Shiro-Abhyanga drains, opens, and clears the impurities in the sinuses. Following Shiro-Abhyanga comes Nasya, which means nose and refers to herbalized nasal drops, followed by an aromatic steam, which further facilitates the cleansing and removal of accumulated fluids in the sinuses and improves agni/ama. With all of the sinuses connected to the nasal passageway, Nasya is an essential part of SAN treatment. Nasya Oil soothes and protects the nasal passage while nourishing the tissues and is made with a variety of Ayurvedic herbs to balance prana and one’s constitution. Depending on the severity of symptoms and the person’s constitution and condition, there are multiple different types of Nasya preparations, varying in dosage, and each bringing about a fortitude of benefits.

The entire SAN treatment brings about a balanced flow of air and prana through the whole body. Prana is the subtle life force energy stored within the body, primarily from the nasal breath. Healthy uncongested breathing is important to ensure proper flow of prana throughout the head and body. A smooth flow of prana ensures healthy living by promoting an energized body and clear and calm mind. The benefits of Shiro-Abhyagnga-Nasya, therefore, extend far beyond the sinuses and physical body, but instill complete harmony of the body, mind, and soul.  

The same is true for Pranayama, or the control of prana flow through breathing exercises. Kapalabhati, also known as the skull-shining breath, is extremely beneficial for sinus blockages. Kapalabhati focuses on the exhalation and with passive inhalation through the nose. You may want to have a tissue nearby because this practice efficiently clears out the nasal passages of excess mucus. Other benefits include balanced circulation bringing cleansing and nourishment to the tissues, purification of the lungs, strengthening of the abdominal muscles, regulating the nervous system and calming the mind. 

Everyone who has experienced sinus congestion knows how much blocked sinuses affects their quality of life. A clear nasal passageway, healthy uncongested breathing, and drained sinuses are the keys to clear and healthy living. Ayurveda outlines a number of treatments and daily practices to keep the breath and prana flowing freely, like SAN and Pranayama.   

Our next Sinus/SANS program is December 11, 2021. Learn more here. 


10 Ways to Beat Allergies with Ayurveda | Kripalu

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