The Six Cleansing Kriyas

The shat-kriyas refers to the purification practices which are designed to assist the all areas of the body with elimination and detoxification. These six processes are often overlooked in the practice of yoga in the west.

When practised routinely they promote intense feelings of lightness and wellbeing:

1) Kapalahbhati: skull-clearing (kapala = skull, bhati = light)

  • a deep diaphragmatic breathing technique that purifies the mind
  • cleanses the lungs and respiratory systems, increasing oxygen to the cells
  • improves digestion
  • releases negative emotions and toxins

2) Neti: sinus cleaning (jala neti = with water, sutra neti = thin surgical tubing)

  • warm salt water passed up one nostril and exit from the other; or
  • thin rubber tube inserted in one nostril and out through the mouth
  • releases trapped mucus and dirt
  • can improve sinusitis, headaches, allergies and asthma
  • for the mind – can reduce tension and depression and bring clarity

3) Dhauti: stomach and esophagus clearing (jala dhauti = with water, sutra dhauti – with tubing)

  • drink warm, salted water to induce vomiting; or
  • swallow thin long cotton strip and retrieve back via mouth
  • relieves nausea when stomach is too acidic, or when eaten bad food

4) Basti: colon cleansing (enema)

  • use lukewarm salt water to perform enema 
  • washes the bowel and removes excess bacteria and old stool
  • cures digestive disorders and promotes feelings of lightness

5) Nauli: small intestine cleansing (with uddiyana bandha)

  • use of all 3 bandhas to massage the internal organs and improve digestion
  • lock mula bandha (pelvic floor) and  jalandhara bandha (throat) and use uddiyana bandha to roll the abdominal muscles in a wave-like motion
  • tones abdominal muscles and assists in toxin removal

6) Tratak: gazing meditation (candle-gazing)

  • improves concentration which is the first stage of meditation
  • increases energy to the pineal gland, thereby enhancing function
  • improves mental clarity and capacity – along with all other benefits of meditation

Alex