Shatkarma: yoga cleansing techniques
Shatkarma is also known as Shatkriya and it refers to the yogic practices involving purification of the body. Prior to kundalini awakening, you must have purification of body, purification of nadis, purification of mind and purification of intellect. Shatkarma are the six methods to purify your body which are mentioned in the ancient hindu scriptures.
Shatkarma is called six-actions in English. The yogic kriyas or cleansing practices are six in number hence called shat-karma. It is believed that these practices cleanse the body and prepare it for hatha yog. Before going to these six methods of cleaning I want to make one thing sure that these methods are very much difficult and they should be performed under and experienced or professional person who is already in the field of yoga.
Dhauti: It is the first method of Shatkaarka and it is intended to purify abdominal area and more particularly the digestive system. Purification is of two kinds: Antar-Dhauti (internal cleaning) and Bahir-Dhauti (external cleaning). This is the most difficult exercise. This method is for cleaning the mouth, throat and stomach.
Basti: This method is also very much difficult and should be performed under the supervision of professional. This method involves drawing water in to the lower intestine via the anus and then expelling it. This aims to cleanse the lower part of the colon upto the sphincter.
Neti: This is the third method and this practice involves cleaning up the nasal passages as well as the throat. It can be done with water (jala-neti), where water is poured into one nostril and it automatically comes out through the other.
Tratak: This kriya is for cleansing and strengthening the eyes. The eyes are focussed usually on a small object or the flame of the lamp in a dark room, without blinking, until they water.
Nauli: The rectus-abdominii (abdominal column) is churned left and right in this kriya. Nauli Kriya is a shatkarma which is intended for regenerating, invigorating and stimulating the abdominal viscera and the gastro-intestinal or alimentary system.
Kapalbhati: This is a cleanser for the respiratory system, especially the lungs. It involves forceful breathing in and out repeatedly. The lungs work like the bellows of a blacksmith. The body is kept in different positions for different effects.