ShatKarma – The Six Yogic cleansing

Those shatkarma which effect purification of the body are secret. They have manifold, wondrous results and are held in high esteem by eminent yogis.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2:23

The first step to gain mastery in Yoga is through purifying the body of toxins. Shatkarma (sometimes referred as Shatkriya) consist of six groups of purification practices. ‘Shat’ means ‘six’ and ‘Karma’ or ‘Kriya’ means ‘art’ or ‘process’. The word kriya or karma is used in Hatha Yoga in a special technical sense regarding the techniques of cleaning. The practice of shatkarma is also used to balance the internal disorders (doshas) of the body i.e. kapha – mucus, pitta– bile, and vata – wind. According to both Ayurveda and Hatha yoga, an imbalance in the doshas results in illness. The aim of Hatha Yoga and, therefore, of the shatkriyas is creating harmony within the major energy channels (ida & pingla) thereby attaining physical and mental balance.

There are many cleansing techniques for purifying different systems in our body – bathing, washing the face, brushing teeth etc; in that sense, we all practices them. But yogic cleansing refers to special Yoga techniques meant to cleanse and also heal the inner organs. Hence, these purificatory processes are both preventive and curative and so occupy a significant space in the field of Yoga Therapy.

The Shatkarmas affect and activate almost all of the vital systems in the body, especially the digestive, respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. Every individual organ of importance, like the food pipe, stomach, colon, lungs, eyes and ears, receives equal attention. Among several Kriyas available in the Yogic lore, six major Kriyas are comprehensive. Each of these consists of a variety of practices. I am mentioning only the most common practices:

  1. Trataka for eyes – practice of intense gazing at one point or object which develops the power of concentration
  2. Neti for cleansing upper nasal tract i.e from throat to nostrils
  3. Kapalbhati for lower respiratory tract from nostrils to lungs – a breathing technique for purifying the frontal region of the brain
  4. Dhouti series of cleansing techniques for digestive track. Some of them are:
    • Varisara – cleansing of the intestines
    • Vahnisara (agnisara) for activating the digestive fire
    • Vaman  – cleansing stomach with water
    • Vatasara – cleansing intestines with air
  5. Nauli technique of massaging and strengthening the abdominal muscles and viscera
  6. Basti a technique for washing and toning the large intestine i.e lower Gastric Intestine (GIT)
Therapeutic benefits of these practices are:-
Neti(1a,b) – Removes cold, hypersensitivity, headache, sinusitis, bronchitis
Dhouti(2a,b,c,4a,b) Good for flatulence and dyspepsia (indigestion), Cures asthma and bronchitis
Basti(3) Keeps health of abdominal organs by removing all impurities, cures chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorder, mal-absorption syndrome, dyspepsia and piles.
Nauli(4c) – Panacea for many abdominal and stomach ailments including constipation, piles, gastritis, indigestion and diabetes, alleviate depression, dullness and lethargy
Trataka(5)Errors of refraction get corrected, strengthens the ability of the lens to adjust better to distances
Kapalbhati(6a,b,c)Nice massage to all abdominal organs. People with digestive problems are highly benefited. It cleanses the lungs and also entire respiratory tract. It is good for asthmatics and for other respiratory disorder

The effects of the shatkarma can be summed up in one word – purification! When the different systems of the body have been purified, the overall result is that energy can flow through the body freely without blockages. One’s capacity to work, think, digest, taste, feel, experience, etc., increases and greater awareness develops preparing the practitioner for successful progression along the Yogic path.

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32 thoughts on “ShatKarma – The Six Yogic cleansing

    1. Yoga is a practical discipline! I purposely refrained from explaining ‘How’ in this article. Reason being its better learnt from a teacher in person/ or if online- after being personally assessed… There are many nuances that one need to consider while teaching/ recommending for these practices. Needs/limitations are unique to individuals!!
      My online classes/Therapy on/for specifics will take somemore time! Thanks for your interest, I hope I’m able to start sooner🙏

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  1. Starting to read it again is the most pleasant part of my life. The practice of this variant of yoga is highly positive to relieve the physical part of the body. Sometimes the medication is not as effective in relieving discomfort. You have such a complete vision of this technique that it is easy to follow your classes. The photos help a lot to better understand your article. As always, this post is the best. On the other hand, I apologize for the delay in responding, but I had to solve many problems in a short time. Now I can catch up. Greetings.

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    1. It’s so wonderful to see you back. Thank God you’re alright. You’ve been totally silent even on your blog! But like I said, thank God you’re okie and I’m very very glad to have you back. I missed you, your blogs and your readings of my heavy stuff ☺️😍😇

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      1. Leaving more than 40 years of life, friends, home, has not been easy. I stopped using the blog because the system left for a long time due to censorship. Politics entangles everything and then moving to another country was not easy to assume. I didn’t have much courage to say things until I started using your teachings and looking at your smile, it gave me the strength to return to action. There is nothing better than feeling good about yourself and knowing that you can admire a smile just for the photo, it is a step forward to hope that the sky is blue anywhere.

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      2. Mmm… I am sure it must have needed a lot of strength and courage; but I’m glad you’ve settled and probably are where you intend to. I will always pray and wish best for you. God bless you always 🌸
        & Your unique poetic appreciations always uplifts my already big ego and bring smile to me 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you for your prayers and wishes. You have no idea how much I need your communication. When I want to find the traces of spiritual tranquility, your smile guides me on the right path. Someday, looking at the vastness of the universe, some star will tell me what it means. And if my palms approach my chest and my knees touch the softness of the clouds, then I shut up and I am present in yoga classes.

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      4. You know very well I’m no writer! Can’t respond as beautifully as your comments ever. Your ways of motivating/appreciating is as beautiful as the person that you are. Thankyou so much. I’m so happy to see you back 😊💕🌸

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    2. Btw thankyou for your appreciation. This one, anyone from not Yoga world usually finds it unusual. My friends outside yoga world make all kinds of faces 😂… Thankyou for understanding the science and looking beyond into their benefits… You’re always valued and I cherish your comments. Very happy to have you back 🙏😍🌸

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      1. I am convinced that your blog is a success. In addition to making this philosophical doctrine known, its teaching makes us reach a spiritual peace that we had no idea existed. By the number of followers, it is seen that your blog is welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thankyou for your motivation! You are one of those bloggers who inspire fellow bloggers along the way to continue in their efforts…
        You are wise enough to know numbers on the virtual world say nothing! I’ll be happy if im able to influence a handful genuinely by the end of it… 🌸🙏🌸

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      3. The numbers or statistics are cold, but at least you know that your teaching is going in a good direction. I am sure that he has already touched the soul of many because I have read all the answers to his publication widely. You have a special charisma for your classes and you cannot hide that you are a very beautiful woman in body and spirit. A good weekend. Now I think of you.

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      1. You’re welcome Gunjan. Wow! over 5000 years of knowledge is wonderful to know, it’s a treasure of wisdom. I think information can be a great medicine too, so great that it’s being acknowledged/proven beneficial.

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  2. Well written and it felt to me like an introduction. After this post will you next do posts to explain in more detail in short posts, a method for all six? You could poll your readers to determine the order if you chose.
    I am looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First of all thank you for being here. It feels great to be read and feels even better if it creates inquisitiveness in readers to know more…
      I wasn’t thinking to further write on them right now. But I am working on developing some Yoga Therapy modules for various illnesses. That will have relevant kriyas in more detail. So should be able to cover some details on them then. But it’s still time for that. Going one step at a time.
      Thankyou for your encouraging words. It felt good 🌸🙏🌸

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