Yoga to cleanse and purify your body

03/10/2019, Absolute Sanctuary, Claire Bostock

The misconception of yoga is that it is all about doing asanas (postures). Once you are doing asanas you are doing yoga. However, there is more to yoga than just doing asanas. The term Hatha yoga itself is to many westerners the act of doing postures or yoga exercises. However Hatha yoga actually refers to a group of techniques used for purifying the body and the mind which work on balancing the flow of “prana” or energy between the solar (Ha) and lunar (Tha) parts of the body. Although yoga asanas help in balancing the flow of prana in the body, it is achieved much more slowly and less effectively than the more direct methods of pranic cleansing methods. According to the classical text of yoga, Hatha yoga also involves “Shatkarmas” or “Shatkriyas”. Cleansing practices are also referred to under the “Niyamas” of the 8 limbs of yoga (Ashtanga yoga).

“Shatkarma “or “Shatkriyas” refer to ancient yoga cleansing techniques. These techniques were developed by ancient yogis not only for health purposes but also to reach higher states of meditation. There are 6 main groups of cleansing practices: Neti, Dhauti, Basti, Nauli, Kapalbhati and Trataka.


Neti or nasal cleansing is divided into: “Jala Neti” (using water), “Dugdha Neti” (using milk), “Ghrita Neti” (using ghee), “Swamootra Neti” (using one’s own urine), and “Sutra Neti” (using a thread). The process of Neti clears the nasal passage, pharynx and the sinus cavities. The two most popular types are “Jala Neti” where the practitioner uses a neti pot with a spout on one side to pour water into one nostril, with the water coming out of the other nostril and “Sutra neti” whereby the practitioner holds one end of a thread while passing the other up the other nostril at a time, pulling it out through the mouth.


Dhauti refers to the cleansing of the entire alimentary canal, including the mouth, food pipe, stomach, intestines and the rectum. There are 11 types of Dhauti but the most popular practice is Vastra Dhauti which removes phlegm, bile and stomach impurities. This involves the practitioner swallowing a 20 feet long cloth, holding it for 5 minutes and then pulling it out slowly so that the bile, phlegm and other impurities will be pulled out along with it. 


Basti is a natural way of clearing the large intestine. There are two types “Jal” (water) or “Stal” or “Shuksa” (dry) Basti. In “Jal Basti”, the practitioner sits in a tub of waist-high water and draws water up the rectum and into the colon and then releases it. The process is similar to a colema. “Shuksa “or “Stal” Basti is reserved only for the advanced practitioner.


Nauli involves the strong engagement of the abdominal muscles to massage the intestines and the abdominal organs. It involves the practitioner projecting the rectus abdominal muscles forward, expanding and contracting them in a way that resembles waves. A difficult exercise involving a lot of abdominal control.


Kapalbhati is actually a practice quite popular with yogis and yoginis but usually thought of as breathing or pranayama practice rather than a cleansing technique. It involves breathing in and out rapidly without pausing in between with forceful exhalations aided by the contraction of the abdominal muscles.


Finally, we have Trataka which means gazing steadily without blinking. The point of focus is usually the naked flame of a candle. The practise helps to improve mental focus and improve the blood circulation to the eyes.

Though the kriyas (short form for Shatkarma or Shatkriyas) may seem daunting at first sight, but after practising them for a few times, the practices become effortless and easily integrated into one’s daily life. This is especially so when one experiences firsthand the benefits of the practices such as the clearing of sinusitis after a few sessions of Jala Neti.


This is a guest blog article by Claire Bostock ex Executive Director at  Absolute Sanctuary, Thailand’s Premier Detox & Yoga resort. Absolute Sanctuary offers yoga classes such as Hot, Hot Flow, Flow, Hatha, Restorative, Pranayma & Meditation, Yin and Pilates daily.

If you would like to book a yoga retreat at Absolute Sanctuary call our wellness 
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