In addition to the generally accepted external rules of hygiene, the health practices of Yoga advise additional internal cleansing of the body. Consideration of purification also extends to include the whole psyche that eradicates ill thought and feeling.
The first physical practices known as the Shat Kriyas or 6 traditional cleansing practices of Hatha Yoga are used for correcting symptoms as well as for preventing disease. Some are incorporated in common Hindu health practices in the home and others are specifically used in yoga ashrams.
Westerners adopt or adapt these techniques as they choose.
SHAT KRIYAS Neti – Dhauti – Basti – Kapalabhati – Trataka – Nauli
Neti – cleansing the nostrils with water (jala neti) or with a rubber catheter (sutra neti) This is for general nasal hygiene and also to treat epilepsy and sinus, hayfever etc. Ghrita Neti, Tael neti, Dugdha neti, with the use of melted butter, oil and milk respectively. Westerners prefer to use a Neti pot available for use with water.
Dhauti – Waman dhauti drinking warm water and vomiting it up to cleanse stomach (kunjar kriya) purification of alimentary canal, stomach sphincter muscles, useful should any toxic matter or food poisoning threaten.
Swallowing air and belching (plavini or danta dhauti) clears stomach of gases.
Basti – bowel cleansing with warm water using an enema following a normal bowel movement replaces the traditional techniques . An enema should be a regular practice at least to wash the bowel every month or so.
Kapalabhati – brain purification through a vigorous breathing exercise using abdominal muscular control designed to elevate prana to the head centres from the solar plexus region requires personal instruction.
Trataka – visual purification – strengthening the eyes through gazing techniques feeds the brain with a single visual focus (to eradicate confusion)
Unbroken gazing on one thing at a time also develops psychic faculties and clairvoyance. A range of suitable objects can include candle, black spot, gazing at tip of the nose, centre of the eyebrows, crystal stone, sacred symbol.
Nauli – with several progressive stages of abdominal controls – for men
First Agnisara or abdominal beating in conjunction with Uddiyana bandha
Vama nauli – contracting rectus abdominus muscles on the left side
Dakshina nauli – contracting rectus abdominus on the right side
Madhyama nauli – contracting rectus abdominus in the centre
Lauliki nauli – is the complete rapid rotation through the above positions of contracted abdominus many times – to benefit intestines, stomach, sexual energy, and to promote longevity.
ADDITIONAL Minor Kriyas
Cleansing breath vigorous exhalation of air from the lungs – 3x only
Oral cleansing – tongue scraped with special implement,teeth brushing
Massaging gums with the finger using salt, soda or herbs
Cleansing ears (karna kriya) – thumb placed in ear and vigorously vibrated
Skin friction with leaves and soft branches or a bristle body brush
Cold showers after warm
Vaginal washing for women
Barefoot walking on dewy grass
Sunbaking for short periods enjoyed in conjunction with prayer and deep breathing
Moonbathing for a period whilst meditating or walking peacefully in garden at night
Internal purification of the bloodstream can only occur through –
Fasting to cleanse the blood – spring and autumn
Drinking pure water
Easting natural fresh foods and herbs in a diet without animal products
Deep breathing and oxygen intake
Improving digestion and good elimination
Muscular exercise for good circulation
Adequate sleep and rest
Fasting for Westerners – any of us can fast for a day and instinct often tells us to do this when we are not feeling well – a reaction also shown in animals.
Undertaking a 3 day fast only needs a little knowledge and will power to accomplish elimination of toxins through resting the digestive system, taking plenty of liquids to keep the kidneys functioning. Along with moderate exercise, and attention to adequate respiration will not generally require medical supervision.
Subtler psychological purification is based upon ensuring no build-up of negative feelings and emotions – regular dream recording to listen to subconscious mind – relaxation and meditation to allow time to gentle positive programming of your being and to help you rest in your soul centre where it is easy to experience states of peace, security and contentment.