Satkarma  { Purificatory Techniques }


Satkarma  { Purificatory Techniques }

Yoga has several parts- asana, pranayama and shatkarma. Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are quite popular and widely practiced but today only a few people practice Shatkarmas (Yoga cleansing practices).

Shatkarmas according to hatha yoga are the six yogic cleansing processes of the body- Neti, Basti, Tratak, Kapalabhati, and Nauli. These kriyas (processes) clean the eyes, respiratory system, food pipes, and tone up abdominal viscera and the small intestine.
The body works like a machine and has to be continuously cleaned and maintained. The body releases toxins in the form of mucus, gas, acid, sweat, urine and stool. It is these toxins that have to be removed and cleaned for the proper functioning of the body.
Earlier, these practices were undertaken by yogis to prepare their bodies for advanced practices of yoga. They were not designed for therapy alone, but to create harmony of body and mind. As shatkarmas detoxify the body, resulting in many benefits, they are very relevant to us today and make a lot of sense if we learn and follow them.


Helps to build resistance to diseases by eliminating the toxins.
Sharpens the mind
Washes the colon, sinus tracts, the stomach etc.
Provides massaging effects to the areas applied
Increases vital capacity
One’s capacity to think, digest, taste , feel express etc. increases and greater awareness develops
1.      Jalneti


Out of the six shuddhikriyas, the shuddikriya for the cleaning of the nasal path is known as neti. The aim of the process is to purify the breathing path right from the nostrils to the throat. If the aim is achieved using water, the process is known as Jalneti. If the aim is achieved by using a thread of cloth ( sutra ), then it is known as Sutraneti. If with the help of modern science, a catheter is used instead of sutra, then it is known as Dandneti. In short, neti is the process of cleaning the nasal path. In this syllabus, we will see how it is done with the help of the water. That means we will study only Jalneti.

Traditionally, the process is performed by dipping the face into the river water, inhaling the water through the nostrils and letting it out through the mouth. The reverse process is sucking the water in by mouth and exhaling it through nostrils.

If it is not possible to visit the river everytime, then the process maybe performed by taking the water into the folded palms and inhaling it through nostrils or sucking it by mouth.

If the process is to be performed in this manner, there are too many difficulties. If the water is to be inhaled through nose, sneezes occur and the water is let out through the nose only. Or if the water cannot be thrown out by way of mouth, it gets stuck and can cause trouble. The water can deposit itself into the sinus and can cause headaches. Hence, there is another method which can be practiced by all without such difficulties and it is easier and useful to practice it.

In this method, a feeding cup of china with a pout is used. Earlier, there were pots with the pouts, they can also be used. In fact, a utensil which can easily pour water into the nostril can be used. A utensil with stainless steel or brass is prepared specially for the process, which has double barrel pout with a little broad tip.

Put warm water into the utensil and add a little salt in it. Tilt the neck and touch the tip of spout to one of the nostrils. Open the mouth and continue breathing through it. Gradually pour water into the nostril. Since the breathing is continued through the mouth, the water straightway goes through the food pipe into the throat to the stomach. Just as we drink water through the mouth, in the same way it can be drunk through the nose. When some water is drunk though one nostril, perform the process with the other one. This is process is not neti, but when one is accustomed to drinking water through nose, then practicing neti is easier.

Instead of swallowing water drunk through the nose, tilt the neck further and take it out through the other nostril. It is essential to find the pose of the neck here. When the pose is found, the rest of the process is easier. The water poured through one nostril can easily come out of the other. The breathing is naturally through the mouth at this time. Pour water into the left nostril and take it out of the right, then drink it by the right one and take it out of the left.

Then stand bent at the waist, put the hands onto the waist, move them in half rotation and perform a process similar to Kapalbhati.

The duration or the reiterations of the process cannot be stated. But the amount of water to be used can be stated. For one nostril, generally half a liter of water is to be used. The water should be used at a stretch or with some rests. Since this is a shuddhikriya, one should not include it in daily lifestyle. Whenever, the nasal path needs cleaning, the process can be used. However, till the process is learnt thoroughly, it may be practiced daily. Once learnt, it should be used as per the need.  
Yogic claims:  
The process achieves cleaning of the nasal path with the help of the water, but this is not the only aim behind the process. The texts state that the process eliminates kaphadosha and diseases occurring in the old age.

If the process is studied by differentiating the temperature of the water used and also the amount of the salt used, the skin in the nasal path gets used to the osmotic pressure. Also, the organs get used to the different temperatures and can continue working without any disturbance. The nasal path does not suffer from any changes in the season, hence can get freed from the long duration cold or sinus troubles. If the water is heated a little bit more and contains extra salt, then it can also absorb the water from the swollen parts of the nasal path or the fluid in the sinus and these parts can get purified.

Apart from the purification of the nasal path, the other attached sensory perceptive organs such as eyes, ears can also be affected in a good manner and their efficiency is increased.

If the mouth of the Eustachian tube in the throat is swollen and clogged, it also gets opened up. It is also experienced that the study proves useful in case of many diseases of the nasal tract.

For the practice of pranayama, both the nostrils should be open, that can be achieved through this process.






2.     Vaman Dhouti


It is another easy method of dhouti. The washing up of the entire track starting from the mouth to the digestive path at the beginning of the small intestines, that is mouth, esophagus, stomach etc are included in this process. One can wash one’s mouth, but in the daily routine one cannot wash the esophagus or the stomach. The impurities residing there are carried along with the food particles and are mixed in some proportion with the blood. This has adverse effects on the body. In the case of some patients, the stomach wash is effected by introducing rubber tube into the stomach. This process is done in Yoga without any external instruments, only with the physical movements of the internal organs in the body. This process of stomach wash is done with the help of dand (catheter), water or cloth. We will consider the process done with the help of water.


Heat pure drinking water till it achieves the body temperature and put a pinch of salt in it
Initially, the proportion of salt can be kept a little high.
Start drinking this water sitting at one place. Generally, nothing is felt till a liter of water is consumed.
Keep on drinking the water. Afterwards, the weight of the water is felt into the stomach, which gradually causes
After intake of 1.5 to 2 liters of water, there is a nauseating feeling. Keep on drinking.
While drinking the water (salted and heated as described herein above), it should be drunk sip by sip consuming it from a glass.
Ultimately, there is a feeling that no further quantity can be consumed and there is an intense feeling to vomit.
Try to consume another glass by keeping the feeling in check with mental efforts.
Then stand up with a distance of 1 to 1.5 ft in the legs and bend down slightly.
Insert the fore or index finger, middle finger and the small finger of the right hand into the mouth and press a little at the end of the tongue.
This aggravates the feeling to vomit.
The water in the stomach will come out in gushes.
Try to bring out the entire quantity by inserting fingers into the throat.
When the entire quantity of water comes out, the nausea stops and the feeling to vomit vanishes.
Wash the mouth and perform shavasan.
Shavasan should be performed for 10 to 15 minutes as per the need and then one can resume the normal routine.
After one hour, a drink may be allowed.
The feeling to vomit becomes intense within 10 to 15 minutes of the start of drinking the water. The actual process of vomiting lasts for only 2 to 3 minutes. That means the entire process of vamandhouti lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. However, shavasan must be performed as per the need for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This process is not to be reiterated. It is a one time process at a given time. Also, it is not to be performed daily. This is to be performed as per the need under proper guidance. It is said in the texts that the process is to be performed after having food. However, for learning the process, it should be performed early in the morning, on empty stomach. After learning the process thoroughly, if it is to be performed with specific purpose in mind, it may be performed after having food.
Yogic claims:
In this process, the stomach is filled with the water and then the same water is turned out from the mouth. Hence, the stomach and the esophagus are washed clean from inside. The impurities are thrown out. In the general digestion process, when the food and the water are consumed, they travel from the stomach to the small intestines and then absorbed into the blood. That means, poisonous substances when swallowed through the mouth or if generated in the stomach due to some internal problems, travel with the food to the small intestines and are absorbed into the blood in at least certain proportion. This process helps to bring out such poisonous materials. Also, the water drunk in the process includes salt. The osmotic pressure in the stomach is increased due to such water and instead of such water getting absorbed, the water in the blood gets absorbed into the stomach. Hence, the poisonous substances on the inner wall or lining of the stomach are brought into the stomach and thrown out along with the water.

Due to some sort of problem, certain poisonous materials or deformed juices are generated in the stomach after consumption of food. This hinders proper digestion. If this process is performed immediately after having food, such poisonous materials are thrown out of the body and they do not get mixed into the blood. This vamandhouti process is useful for patients suffering from acidity.

This process cannot be learnt from reading it in a book. It should be learnt under the guidance of the expert and then may be performed independently when learnt properly. Also, like asanas and pranayama, this process should not be performed daily. It should be performed according to the need under the expert guidance.

People suffering from heart trouble, blood pressure – high or low, diseases of the nervous system, or trouble from ulcers, should not perform the process. It should be done under expert advice and to the extent prescribed by them.

While performing the process, the same amount of water as consumed should be thrown out. However, if the exact quantity is not thrown out, there is no need to get scared. The water then travels across the digestive track and is thrown out of the body by way of diarrhea. It does not cause any trouble to the body.

It is necessary to perform shavasan for 10 to 15 minutes. Also, if any food is to be consumed, it may be taken after 1.5 to 2 hours after the process.







  1. Basti

The Sanskrit word ‘basti’ (written as ‘vasti’ or ‘wasti’) is a general word that relates to anything pertaining to the lower abdomen, belly, pelvis and bladder. The practice of basti karma is a process of cleaning the lower abdomen, especially the colon. The word ‘sthala’ means ‘ground’. Sthala basti is a practice where one stands on dry ground, i.e., one sucks air into the anus instead of water- The technique is also called ‘sushka basti’, ‘sushka’ meaning ‘dry’. Another name for air basti is vata basti where the word ‘vata’ means ‘air’. It is the practice which cleans the colon by sucking air into the body. In this practice, no external aid in the form of a catheter or tube is to be used.

The word ‘jala’ means ‘water’. Jala basti is the practice whereby one sucks water into the anus. It is also called ‘vati basti’ which also means water. Vari basti is the process of cleaning the colon with water. The method for both sthala and jala basti is exactly the same, the only difference being that sthala basti is practised in air and jala basti in water. In this practice, unlike sthala basti, hatha yoga permits the use of a catheter tube.


Jala basti

If a river is not available, the practice can be done over a bucket or basin of water. Beginners will have to start by inserting a 0.8cm catheter into the rectum. Traditionally, a bamboo tube was used. Plastic tubing or a catheter are suitable but organic material is always preferable. The tube should be at least 13-15cms long, preferably smooth and hollow. Lubricate it with beeswax or a non-irritating oil such as vaseline or ghee.

Insert 4cms of the tube into the anal passage or as much as possible, then squat over the bucket or basin in utkatasana. Exhale and perform uddiyana bandha. If the water is not sucked up through the tube into the bowel, then do madhyama nauli and hold. If the water is still not sucked up do vama, or dakshina nauli. When you can no longer hold kumbhaka, remove the catheter or tube without exhaling. Then stand up and exhale slowly through the nose. When you expel the water it is best to squat over the toilet because stool in the lower intestine will also come out. If the catheter is not removed before exhaling, the water will pass out and the tube may get blocked by pieces of stool.

After much practice the catheter will not be necessary as you will be able to suck water into the bowel directly, but that is a very advanced stage which may take years to perfect. When practising without the catheter you have to push the rectum out as far as possible, then draw it in with uddiyana. First you open the sphincter muscles with the fingers, perform uddiyana and remove the hand. Maintain kumbhaka for as long as possible and then slowly exhale.

After the practice, make sure all the water is expelled. Then lie in shavasan on a blanket. Slowly assume pashinee mudra, placing the knees beside the ears and balancing or the backs of the shoulders, hands clasped behind the back of the knees. This releases air from the bowel and induces a bowel action if there is any water remaining.

Come out of the position slowly and lie in shavasana again. Then fold the knees to the chest, hold them and slowly rock from side to side, or rock with the arms stretched out to the sides at shoulder level. Lie in shavasana again, and when you are ready, perform bhujangasana slowly 3-5 times. This exerts pressure on the lower intestines and releases any remaining water or air. Those who are able should perform mayurasana. Pashinee mudra is the most suitable counter-pose.

It is extremely important that the water used in basti is perfectly clean and neither too hot nor too cold. In cold weather lukewarm water should be used. It is not necessary to add salt to the water but the catheter must be sterilised before and after use. Basti car be done in warm or hot weather, especially if you are also doing intense pranayama and bandhas. Basti generates energy but also removes heat from the system. It must not be done during cloudy, rainy, windy or stormy weather.

Sthala basti

Sthala or dry basti is performed while lying on the back. Assume Vipareeta karani mudra but position the back at a 60° angle to the floor. Then bring the knees down to the chest. Push the sphincter muscles out and in, so air is sucked into the bowel. This is not an easy practice and jala basti has to be perfected first. Sthala basti can also be practised in pashinee mudra or paschimottanasana, performing ashwini mudra. Uddiyana may also be required in the beginning. In paschimottanasana it is not easy to suck in air as there is pressure on the anus, so it is best to start in an inverted asana. The ‘Hatharatnavali’ says “After practising basti, do not take food for three ghatis (72 minutes)

Yogic claims:

According to the ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’, ‘Enlargement of the glands and spleen and all diseases arising from excess wind, bile and mucus are eliminated from the body through the practice of basti.’ With reference to jala basti it states, “By practising jala basti the appetite increases, the body glows, excess doshas are destroyed and the dhatu, senses and mind are purified.”

Basti completely washes the bowel and removes excess bacteria, old stool, thread worms and heat from the lower intestines. Most importantly, it pushes apana vayu upward. When the apana, rises it can be felt in the navel and as a great pressure on the stomach. Basti cures digestive disorders and is particularly useful for removing constipation, controlling nervous diarrhoea and strengthening the solar plexus. It also improves muscle tone and blood supply as well as purifying the blood.

Basti should not be practised by anyone with high blood pressure, hernia or any serious digestive ailments. It is useful in treating ailments such as colitis and dysentery. However, in some cases it may be too drastic, so if you suffer from these types of disorders you should seek expert guidance.



  1. Nauli

The Sanskrit nauli comes from the root word ‘nala’ or ‘nali’, which means a tubular vessel, vein or nerve of the body; a reed or hollow stalk. The word ‘nala’ is also the Sanskrit for the rectus abdomini, (in the Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary it is literally defined as the ‘navel string’). It is also interesting to note that the Sanskrit word ‘nau’ means ‘ship’, for when nauli is perfected then the abdominal muscles seems to flow like the rolling waves of the ocean. The muscles create the same wavelike motion produced by a ship. Nauli is the practice of contracting and isolating the rectus abdominii muscles. In the “Gherand Samhita” it is known as ‘laulika’. Laulika comes from the word ‘lola’ which means ‘to roll or ‘agitate’. When the rectus abdominii muscles are rotated from left to right (anticlockwise), it is called ‘dakshina nauli.’ When they are rotated from right to left (clockwise), it is ‘vama nauli’. When the muscles are pulled together and the middle group of muscles protrude, it is ‘madhyama nauli’. Before attempting nauli you must be able to perform uddiyana bandha properly.

The rectus abdominii are the two long vertical muscles situated in front of the abdomen, which run under the centre of the ribcage near the diaphragm to the pubic bone. Though these are the muscles you are manipulating in nauli, the external oblique and traverse abdominii are also utilised. At first nauli is practised with the hands just above the knees and the body bent forward. Once this is perfected you can practise in a more erect position, with the hands placed on the upper thighs.

Technique 1

Stage 1

Stand with the feet 1½ to 2 feet apart – bend the knees and rest the palms of the hands just above the knees, thumbs on the insides of the thighs and finders touching the outsides, or as shown in diagram – keep the head up and the eyes open – breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale quickly through the mouth, slightly pursing the lips – perform jalandhara bandha while maintaining bahiranga, (external) kumbhaka – suck the abdomen and stomach in by performing uddiyana bandha – lift the right hand slightly off the knee, keeping all the pressure on the left hand and knee, but do not lean to the left side – this will automatically isolate the rectus abdominii muscles on the left – release uddiyana bandha – raise the head slowly – stand up and inhale slowly – this is vama nauli – practise in the same way on the right side – keep the right hand resting above the knee and slightly lift the left hand to isolate the rectus abdominii muscles on the right – this is dakshina nauli – in between each round of nauli, release uddiyana first, then jalandhara – raise the head – stand erect and breathe in very slowly through the nose – take a few normal breathes before practising the nest round.

Stage 2

Practise vama or dakshina nauli as in stage 1 – start to roll the muscles to the other side, but before they reach the opposite side, hold them in the middle – in order to roll the muscles, slowly bring the weight back onto the hand which was lifted from the knees – this is madhyama nauli.

Stage 3

Practise in the same way as for stages 1 and 2 but learn, to control the contraction of the muscles and to isolate the muscle groups without lifting the hands from the legs – first try by just releasing the pressure off the hand without moving it from the leg – gradually begin to control the practice so that the hands remain fixed on the legs – practise with the hands on the thighs.

Technique 2

Stand in the same position as in technique 1 – keep the hands on the legs above the knees throughout the whole practice – practise vama nauli and then roll the muscles to the right and back to the left – continue rotating the muscles in a clockwise direction – this is known as ‘churning’ – start by practising 3 times consecutively -then release – practise dakshina nauli in the same way, rotating the muscles anticlockwise – when this churning is perfected, practise it 3 times with vama nauli, then 3 times with dakshina nauli and release – when this is perfected you can increase to 10 and 90 rounds.

Technique 3

Practise techniques 1 and 2 in siddhasana or siddha yoni asana, with the buttocks raised slightly by a cushion – initially it will be difficult to control the muscles in the sitting position, so it is better to first perfect the practice of nauli in the standing position.

Nauli should only be practised when the stomach is empty, i.e., at least 5 to 6 hours after meals. The best time to practise is early in the morning before break fast. If you feel any pain in the abdomen during nauli you should immediately stop the practice. Try the following day or when the pain subsides, but if it persists you should consult your teacher or doctor. Nauli should not be performed by those suffering from heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, gallstones, hernia or peptic or duodenal ulcer. Pregnant women should not practise. However, after childbirth it is highly recommended in order to strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles and readjust the position of the inner organs.

Yogic claims:

According to Yogi Swatmarama “Nauli is foremost of the hatha yoga practices. It kindles the digestive fire, removing indigestion, sluggish digestion and all disorders of the doshas, and brings about happiness”. Nauli quickly tones the abdominal muscles, nerves, intestines, reproductive, excretory and urinary organs. Every part of the internal system is stimulated by this practice. It balances the endocrine system and helps control the production of sex hormones. Nauli, is especially useful for alleviating constipation, indigestion, nervous diarrhoea, acidity, flatulence, depression, hormonal imbalances, sexual and urinary disorders, laziness, dullness, lack of energy and emotional disturbances. Through its practice one can control sensual desires and strengthen one’s willpower.



  1. Trataka



Trataka is a. deceptively simple but powerful practice. Trataka means ‘to gaze steadily at a fixed point’ and there are two forms of the practice. One is ‘bahiranga’ or external trataka and the other is ‘antaranga’ or internal trataka. Bahiranga is easier to practise because one simply has to gaze at an object or symbol. However, antaranga trataka involves clear and stable inner visualisation of an object.

In the practice of trataka an object is gazed at until its subtle form manifests in front of the closed eyes. The point of concentration is usually a symbol or object which activates the inner potential and can absorb the mind. The symbol most commonly used is a candle flame, because even after the eyes are closed, the impression remains naturally for some time, and then antaranga trataka can easily be performed. The purpose of focusing the eyes on an external object is to arouse the internal vision and make it absolutely steady by stopping the eye movements.

Trataka is a process of concentrating the mind and curbing its oscillating tendencies. The one-pointed concentration of mind is termed ‘ekagrata’. There are numerous distractions which obstruct ekagrata. Association and identification through the eyes and sight are major contributing factors to this leakage. Furthermore, the eyes move constantly, either in large movements (saccades), or tremors (nystagmus). Even when the eyes are focused on an external object the perception is always fluctuating due to these spontaneous movements. When the same object is constantly seen, the brain becomes accustomed or habituated, and soon stops registering that object. Habituation coincides with an increase of alpha waves indicating diminished visual attention to the external world. When alpha waves are produced it indicates that particular areas of the brain have ceased functioning. This is the case,, not only with trataka, but with any practices of concentration. When the awareness is restricted to one unchanging sense stimulus, like touch or sound, the mind is ‘turned off’. Complete absorption in a single perception induces withdrawal of contact with the external world.

In trataka the result is a ‘blanking out’ of visual perception, and in the wake of this suspension, the central nervous system begins to function in isolation. This is known by yogis as sushumna. When the brain is isolated from the sense modalities and from the associated mental processes, ideas, memories, etc., triggered by these thought impressions, spiritual consciousness emerges. The higher brain, liberated from time and space, is experienced-There are many other equally effective symbols for trataka apart from the candle flame, such as a crystal hall, a shiva lingam, yantra, mandala, the full moon, a star, the rising or setting sun (when it is orange, not yellow), a chakra, the symbol om or your own shadow. These are the most effective, but trataka can also be done on a rose, a tree, a mountain, the sea, the sky, a rock, a black dot or any object of your choice. However, one should be careful when selecting the trataka symbol. If for example, you concentrate on the form of Kali you will arouse that aspect of your inner being if you are not beyond it. You may even manifest Kali and be terrified by her fearsome form. A steady flame of light is the most practical and safest, unless your guru advises you otherwise.


Bahiranga trataka

Practise in a dark room which is free from drafts and insects – place a candle at arms length in front of you with the flame at eye level – it is important that the flame does not flicker in the least – sit in a comfortable meditative pose, preferably siddhasana/siddha yoni asana and place the hands on the knees in either gyana or chin mudra – relax your whole body, close your eyes and prepare yourself as for any meditative practice -make yourself cairn and quiet and be prepared to keep your body perfectly still throughout the entire practice -practise kaya sthairyam for a few minutes – open your eyes and gaze at the middle portion of the flame (ideally one should focus on the red tip of the wick as it does not move due to draft) – gaze for as long as possible without blinking and without strain until the eyes begin to water or tire – you will be able to increase the time gradually with practice to ten minutes – remain the silent witness (sakshi) throughout, observing all thoughts and feeling which may arise – when you close your eyes keep them fixed an the impression in chidakasha – if the afterimage moves, bring it back to the centre and continue gazing until the impression disappears -once you can stabilise the afterimage, study it and look intently at its colour.

Antaranga trataka

Prepare yourself as in the technique for bahiranga trataka – keep the eyes closed throughout and concentrate on your symbol – if you have no symbol try to visualise a point of light, like a twinkling star, or a crescent or full moon – try to see the object clearly and steadily in the dark space or chidakasha, in front of the closed eyes – practise for five to twenty minutes. (This practice has to be cultivated over a long time.)

Trataka can be done at any time but is more effective when performed on an empty stomach. The most suitable time is between four and six in the morning after asana and pranayama practice. If you wish to delve deeper into the mind, trataka should be done late at night before going to bed and before japa or meditation. If there is an uncontrollable How of thought during trataka, mantra japa should also be done at the same time. One can also imagine that one is breathing in a straight line from, the point of concentration through the eyebrow centre and straight back to ajna chakra at the back of the head. When you close your eyes to gaze at the counter image, continue with this awareness.

Yogic claims:

According to the ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ of Swatmarama, ‘Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway creating these problems. It should carefully be kept secret like a golden casket.” Trataka benefits not only the eyes but a whole range of physiological and mental functions. It is therapeutic in depression, insomnia allergy, anxiety, postural problems, poor concentration and memory.

Trataka unlocks the inherent energy of the mind and channelises it to the dormant areas of the unconscious. Yogi Swatmarama mentions the arousal of clairvoyance but other capacities such as telepathy, telekinesis, psychic healing, etc., can develop. Not only that, further results of one-pointedness of mind are strong willpower, improved memory and concentrative ability. Physiologically, trataka relieves eye ailments such as eye strain and headache, myopia, astigmatism and even early stages of cataract. The eyes become clear bright, able to see the reality beyond appearances.






Introducing the Technique :-

The yogic technique of washing the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) involves, the use of lukewarm water, com­mon salt, yogic postural exercises and ‘ghee’ in the form of clarified butter. The use of saltish water can also be substituted by lemon water.fruit juice, vegetable soup etc. as the intake of salt is associated with high blood pressure and water retention.

The use of salt for GIT – washing is preferred over the other suggested things as the salt has the quality of dissolving mucous and cleansing the internal linings. Furthermore, the use of salt in lesser amounts has a soothing effect on the inflammed GIT—linings. Indeed, the amount of salt assim­ilated during GIT—washing is very small, as most of it is excreted through the rectum. Some people however prefer the taste of lemon in their GIT— washing juice as lemon is considered as a cleanser, alkalizing agent and container of vitamin C. Lemonated saltish water, taken first thing in the morning, is considered as a preventive measure against constipation.

The Yogic method of GIT— washing is named as Shankhaprakshalana (Shankha—meaning conch refers to the conch-shape of stomach, small and large intestines; Prakshalana—meaning clean­ing) or Varisara (Vari—meaning water, Sara—meaning internal washing). This method of GIT—washing is a thorough process of cleansing stomach, intestine, colon and rectum and has to be performed under the supervision of skilled guide.



This unique practice is performed by drinking a large quantity of saline water and then performing the diaphragm raising exercise followed by four Yogic postural exercises of (i) Sarpasana (Cobra Posture), (ii) Urdhva – hastottanasana (Upstretched Arms  Posture),   (iii)     Katichakrasana (Lumbar      Wheel      Posture), and (iv) Udarakarshasana (Belly-Suction Pos­ture). These postural exercises are claimed to transport the water downward through the gastrointestinal tract. After completing each of these postural exercise approxi­mately eight times the individual drinks more of saltish water followed by the performance — of the above said postural and diaphragm raising exercises. This is ^repeated until the urge for evacuation of bowels is initiated. The procedure of drink­ing saltish water followed by the above said yogic exercises is continued till clear water is evacuated. After undertaking the prac­tice of GIT–washing more water is drunk to be vomitted out. This is followed by nasal washing techniques.  Following this the practitioner is advised to take rest for about 30-45 minutes without going to sleep and then, to eat a porridge made out of rice, lentils/mung beans with clarified butter or ‘ghee’. This oily preparation is consid­ered to be highly important as it coats and lubricates the freshly washed internal GIT-linings. This special preparation of por­ridge mixed with butter also   provides a protective soothing and nourishing effect to the internalmucosal layer.without which the intestinal linings are likely to yield to the corrosive effects of acids and alkalies as well as drying out and cracking of the internal linings. Presence of salt also allows the ‘ghee’ to coat the intestines, lemon prevents the lubrication. Therefore,  the use of salt is preferred.


  1. Precautions to be Observed

(i) A light meal is eaten on the preceding night.

(ii) No bathing is permitted during or after GIT-washing.Hence, a bath should be taken early morning before starting GIT-flushing.

(iii) After completing the GIT-flushing.stomach washing ‘Kunjal’ and nose washing Neti techniques should be performed.

(iv) A compulsory 30-45 minutes rest without going to sleep is a primary requisite and hence must follow GIT-washing.

(v) After rest,a sufficient amount of liq­uid type porridge made up of boiled gram pulse with little tur­meric along with 15-20gm of clarified butter must be eaten. The same porridge may be eaten again when the hunger is felt.

(vi) Sufficient amount of water should also be drunk for 3-4 hours after the practice. No other food, drink, sweets,milk products should be tak­en.

(vii) Medicines of any type are to be avoid­ed for few days at least on the day of performing Shankhprakshalana.

(viii) Excessive movements involving ex­citement and tension or exposure to hot or cold environments must be avoided. The day should be spent by resting quiet. Strenuous walking, bathing, sports, outings, sitting under a fan or in an air-conditioned room must be strictly avoided.

(ix) All dairy products including milk, cheese, curd (yoghurt), sweets are strictly prohibited. Items like tea, coffee, processed and refined food; sour, bitter, pungent and spicy foods, seasoning of food with condiments such as chili, onion, garlic, egg, potatoes or any other underground vegetable, tomatoes and eggplant etc. aue strictly prohibited. Items such as fish, fowl, meat, alcohol and tobacco are prohibited.

(x) GIT-washing should be done on a clear sunny day. Otherwise there is likelihood of cough,cold or fever etc.

(xi) The GIT-washing should not be done during fever.

(xii)   The patients suffering from ulcers, heart disease, blood pressure high or low, epilepsy and kidney failure should not perform GIT-washing except under medical as well as yogie supervision.

(xiil) On the day of GIT-washing, if head­ache or vomiting sensation is felt, stomach and nose washing tech­niques followed by rest in the form of Corpse posture (Shavasana) should be performed.


  1. Scientific Explanation of Bene­fits of Gut-Washing.

The continual movement of warm saltish water through the stomach and intestines,  besides emptying the gas­trointestinal tract of all its faecal contents alongwith the mucus lining encrusted over faeces, opens the various ducts or chan­nels of flow including (a) the sphincter of odi-located at the junction where gall bladder joins the duodenum (b) channels for secretion of acids and enzymes within the stomach (c) the hormones from the pancreatic glands and (d) the channels for secretion of mudous from the mucosal lining of the stomach which indeed protects the inner lining of the stomach from its own acid secretion. The latter not only prevents but can cure peptic ulcers.

  1. ii) The thorough cleansing of nearly twenty two to thirty feet of gastro­intestinal tract from within permits the processes of absorption, assimi­lation and excretion to function op­timally.

iii) In a clinical setting, the useful effects of GIT-washing are manifold for di-vergent conditions including diabe­tes, boils, acne, worms infestation, indigestion, chronic dysentery, con­stipation, muscular dystrophy, epi­lepsy, cancer and so forth.

  1. iv) The action of GIT-washing on the bowel is much more powerful than laxative and purgatives, which take more time to induce their effects, and are addictive.
  2. v) The manipulation of the various or­gans of alimentary canal both me­chanically from outside and neuro-logically from inside it in the form of internal stimulation of the various cavities of stomach, intestines and colon etc. besides intensifying the cleansing action, also affects the micro-structure, chemicals, enzymes and energy pathways at molecular level. In addition previously non-vo­litional body organs are brought into the field of conscious awareness.
  3. vi) Salt used in GIT washing process reacts in the stomach where it mixes with acids and enzymes and forms a more diluted and less potent acid solution. Salt acts as a very potent and efficient means to dissolve the mucous and thus helps cleanse the intestinal linings.

vii) Salt used in small quantities also has a soothing effect on inflammed inter­nal gastrointestinal linings.

viii) The amount of salt assimilated dur­ing GIT-washing is in fact quite small i.e. very little of it is absorbed and most of it is excreted through rectum

  1. ix) Scientifically, a hypertonic or isoton-ic saline water is absorbed only in minor quantities in the intestines. On the contrary, it may even help extract osmotically, the fluids from the local areas. Thus, the hypertonic saltish water if taken through the alimentary canal in sufficient quantity (as is done during the act of GIT-washing), caus­es a water diarrhoea until eventually a clear watery solution is expelled through the rectum. While passing through the intestinal tract the so­lution takes up waste substances like urea and lactic’ acid which diffuse from the blood through the intestinal wall.  Though,  the intestinal inner membrane is less permeable, but this is compensated by a much higher-contact surface. In this manner, the induced water diarrhoea during the act of GIT-washing also turns out 10 be a practicable method of replacing the kidney function.



The act of practising GIT-washing process may, thus, work out to be a prac­ticable, low cost alternative to dialysis, though as a temporary replacement, but most probably as a sufficient treatment alone for many kidney patients. GIT-wash­ing may also serve as an effective and practicable approach for managing cases of cholera as the central theme of GIT-washing is to continuously supply the bowels from above with the liquid to be excreted from the body fluids in greater amounts.’This, thus, prevents .