Lesson 12 - Purify your body through Yogic cleansing kriyas

In the previous lessons you learnt about various Yogic disciplines. One of the discipline was Shaucha or cleanliness. This cleanliness refers to keeping body as well as mind in clean and pure condition. Hatha Yoga contains a series of techniques called as Shatkarma (Six Techniques) that helps you to cleanse your internal body parts. This lesson will guide you through these techniques.

As per Yoga and Ayurveda diseases are born because of imbalance of Kapha (Phlegm), Vata (Wind) and Pitta (Bile). With the help of Shatkarma you can maintain equilibrium of this trio.

The techniques involved in Shatkarma are:

  • Neti
  • Trataka
  • Kapalbhati
  • Dhauti
  • Basti
  • Nauli


There are many variations of Neti Kriya, the most common being Jala Neti. In Jala Neti water is made to flow from one nostril to the other. You get a special pot called "Neti Pot" that has a small nozzle to insert in your nostril. Take lukewarm water in the Neti Pot and add some salt to it. Then insert the nozzle in one nostril and tilt your head so that water rushes inside and starts coming out of the other nostril. Repeat the same process with other nostril.

Jala Neti is an excellent remedy for frequent cold and sinusitis. It makes nasal passage and membrane clean and strong. It can be performed daily till the time you get rid of disease symptoms.

I strongly suggest doing Jala Neti after you travel through a polluted road. Knowingly or unknowingly carbon particles, dust and other toxic substances ruin the nasal passage and membrane. Especially people who travel a lot on bike will find it very useful to remove such impurities.

After doing Jala Neti one must perform Kapalabhati (explained later) so as to remove the excess water from the nostrils.


Trataka is exercise for eyes and also improves concentration. Take a candle and light it. Place it around 4 feet away from you and in line of your eyes. Now, start staring at it without blinking. After some time tears will start flowing but still do not blink. Maintain this position for 3 minutes initially and gradually increase to 15 minutes. After performing Trataka do Palming or sprinkle water on your eyes.

One important note for PC users. PC users should start with very small time and increase the time very slowly. Their eyes are already stressed and doing Trataka in excess can cause further stress.

Trataka is a very good remedy for eye diseases and also aids concentration. Students MUST do it regularly. Concentration from Trataka helps to go in meditation quickly.


"Kapal" means skull and "bhati" means to shine. So, Kapalbhati means shining skull i.e. shining face.

Sit in Padmasana or Sukhasana. If you can not fold your legs because of some reason, you can even sit on a chair. Keep your hands on knees. Keep spine straight (very important). Now inhale slowly and with sudden contraction to abdomen exhale with full force. Release abdominal muscles and let breath flow inside again. Repeat these cycles for 10 times initially and then gradually up to 10 minutes.

Kapalabhati is very useful in Cold, Sinusitis. It cleanses nasal passages thoroughly and makes them strong. It also helps in curing stomach problems.


Just like Neti, Dhauti also comes in many flavors, most common being Jala Dhauti. Jala Dhauti is cleansing with the help of water.

Get up early in the morning (no laziness please). Take a big jar full of lukewarm water (around 2 liters). You can add little salt in the water (people suffering from blood pressure should avoid this step).Sit comfortably on a chair (actually in strict Yoga there is a special way to sit in this step but I am giving the simplest technique here). Start drinking the water one glass at a time. Drink to the extent that you can not consume any further. Wait for 30 seconds. Stand and bend forward. Push your abdomen inwards and start vomiting the water. You may apply multiple pushes to vomit all the water. Make sure you vomit everything. Do not stop in between.

Initially you may find it difficult to vomit but after practice you will that you can do it at your will without much physical pressure. Initially you will find that even if you have not eaten anything you vomit "something". That "something" is nothing but impurities in your body. After practicing you will realize that water starts coming out as is. This indicates that cleansing is taking place.

You can perform longer cycles of this process such as 21 days. However, I suggest that you start with much lesser cycles such as 5 days.

Jala Dhauti is an amazing cleansing for people suffering from Indigestion, Cold and Acidity. It thoroughly cleanses the stomach.

Take light food after 3-3 1/2 hours.


Now a days constipation and gastric trouble is a very common thing. Basti is a wonderful remedy for these problems. In ancient days Basti was performed by standing in river water and sucking water in with the help of rectal muscles. However, today very few can perform Basti in this way. Now a days Basti is done with the help of enima pot.

You get a pot called Enima Kit that consists of a big pot, rubber tube and nozzle. You need to put 1/2 to 1 1/2 liters of water in the pot. Then you need to pass the noel in through your rectum and let the water pass inside. After all the water goes in remove the noel and take a thin pillow under your buttocks. Now give a slow massage to your stomach from bottom towards chest and from left to right. This way the water will go deep inside and loosen the accumulated waste. Remain in this condition for 15-25 minutes and then go to toilet to empty the bowls.

Ayurveda also recommends using sesame oil instead of water. Dashamula Basti is one of the best medicines for gastric disorders. However, one must consult Ayurvedic Doctor before taking Dashamula Basti.

In the "Pop a tablet and be healthy" age, Basti may sound weird. However, it is one of the most natural and safe remedy. Instead of consuming various habit forming Churnas that promise to relieve constipation, Basti is much better and safe. Of course one must learn the correct technique of taking it under some guidance.


Nauli involves churning abdominal muscles in left to right and right to left. Nauli is an advanced practice and must be learnt under some guidance and hence I refrain from describing it here. Though Hatha Yoga praises Nauli as "crown of cleansing kriyas", many of the benefits of Nauli can also be obtained from Dhauti, Basti and Shankhaprakshalana (more on that later).

In this lesson you learnt about Shatkarmas. They purify your internal organs and help you to get rid of Kapha, Vata and Pitta disorders. Many time Yoga aspirants start Pranayama or Kundalini Kriyas with lots of impurities in their body and then they don't get much of the benefits. Some even get a "kickback" and start cursing Yoga. So, in summary one must purify the body before starting any advanced Yogic practices.

May the Peace be with you.

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To read more about him go here. More details about his Kriya and Meditation online course are available here.

Posted On : 09 February 2007

Tags : Yoga Patanjali Hatha Yoga Raja Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Courses