Cleansing the body is hugely important. As we know, Ayurveda teaches us that the human body is completely governed by the tridoshic system, which comprises of the three doshas, namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the dosha responsible for all of the body’s mechanical processes, Pitta coordinates and regulates the essential chemical functions of the body and Kapha governs the structural management of the body.
We know that afflictions, illnesses and disease can take hold in the body if the three doshas are out of balance and that there are various factors, both internal and external that can lead to a loss of balance within the tridoshic system.
Accumulated toxic matter and waste products result in ama, which is the cause of most disruptions in the tridoshic system.
Ayurveda and Panchakarma are one of the ways of restoring the tridoshic balance, however, Yoga also has a set of cleansing exercises to maintain wellbeing and overall health within the body. In the science of Hatha Yoga, these particular cleansing practices are called Kriyas, and there are six predominant ones.
The Cleansing Shat Kriyas of Hatha Yoga
Called the Shat Kriyas or Shat Karmas, they are a group of six different kriyas that are utilized to create cleansing processes which are of great benefit to both mind and body.
Made use of by yoga practitioners, sages and yogis since the start of the science of yoga, they have been studied, performed and perfected. They are often used to prepare the body when undertaking a particularly intense practice of yoga. Internal cleaning is essential for physical, mental and spiritual progress.
The Shat Kriyas are an essential part of the eight limbs of yoga practice and facilitate and compliment all of the different disciplines of yoga. These are the kriyas and their benefits.
Kapalabhati – Purifies and Cleanses the Lungs and Respiratory Tract Through Breath
The term Kapalbhati is a merging of two words, Kapal which defines the skull and its associated organs and functions and Bhati which roughly translates into shining, luminous or glowing.
As the name indicates, this particular is focuses on the purification and cleansing of the lungs, in turn leading to the maintenance of healthy brain function. This kriya also assists in detoxification and cleansing of the entire lymphatic system.
Neti – Cleanses and Purifies the Upper Nasal Track by Flushing
Neti kriya is focused on cleansing and purifying the nostrils and nasal passages. This kriya can be performed using a liquid medium to flush out and clean the nasal passages. Homemade saline solution can be used for this cleansing. A Neti pot lets you flush out your nasal passages with a saltwater solution.
The result is thinner mucus that drains more easily. It is very effective for any kind of flu and helps to drain out any impurities which have entered inside the nasal passage from the atmosphere outside.
Performing this kriya is not only beneficial for cleansing the nasal passages but also for combating muscular tension in the facial muscles and creating a youthful, healthy glow in the face. It also assists with relieving anxiety and combating mild depression and mental congestion of various kinds.
Over and above that it promotes balance throughout the body’s entire nervous system.
Trataka – Promotes Eye Health and Focus through Tearing Cleansing
Trataka is a kriya specifically formulated towards developing overall eye health. It is aimed at developing and retaining healthy eyesight and focus and enhancing mental and physical strength and dedication. One performs this kriya by focusing the unblinking eyes on a selected object. In most cases, it is a candle flame that burns in a closed room to ensure a steady flame.
Starting with the eyes closed until they are relaxed, you then open the eyes and stare at the brightest point of the flame above the candlewick without moving or blinking the eyes.
Once the eyes start to tear up they are closed for a short period and then the exercise is repeated. The tear ducts secreting fluid cleanses the eyes. It is important to keep the eyes relaxed throughout the cycles of this kriya.
Nauli – Cleansing the Digestive system using the Abdominal Muscles And Viscera
This essential kriya not only tones the abdominal muscles but also cleanses all the internal organs. It is exceptionally useful for stimulating the entire digestive system, while at the same time cleansing it out completely.
Dhouti – Intestinal Cleansing through Purging
Dhouti kriya is specifically focused on cleansing the intestinal tract. It is particularly rigorous but hugely beneficial kriya. This kriya is performed to induce vomiting and purge the intestine of any blockages or impurities.
Apart from its beneficial cleansing properties, this kriya is highly effective in dealing with gastric issues, constipation and bile disorders. It also enhances renal functions and benefits the liver.
Basti – Cleansing Of The Rectum through Yogic Enema
The abdomen is divided into three sections, the upper, middle and lower abdominal sections. Basti kriya is targeted towards cleansing the lower abdomen specifically, including the bladder and the pelvic region.
This kriya is often referred to as a Yogic enema and is conducted to cleanse and purify any impurities or toxins in the lower abdomen via the colon. This kriya is also adept in treating urinary disorders, digestive complaints, combating irregular bowels and dealing with troublesome issues such as excessive bile and flatulence.
Basti kriya also tones and helps develop the muscles which control the lower abdominal functions.
Ayurvedic And Yogic Living
There are numerous ways to cleanse and detoxify our body’s through Yoga and Ayurveda, and in today’s world, it is becoming more and more relevant and important to do so for the benefit of both body and mind. By following an ayurvedic lifestyle which incorporates the practice of yoga one can remain healthy, resilient and happily balanced mentally and physically.