Shatkarma refers to the six purification techniques in the system of Hatha Yoga. These techniques are designed to cleanse and purify the physical body and the energy channels (nadis) and chakras (energy centers) in the subtle body.
BENEFITS OF SHATKARMA:
- Improved digestion and elimination: Shatkarmas such as Basti and Neti are believed to help improve digestion and eliminate toxins from the body.
- Increased circulation: Certain shatkarmas, such as Nauli and Kapalabhati, are believed to increase blood circulation and improve the functioning of the organs.
- Increased focus and concentration: Trataka, a practice that focuses on a single point for a prolonged period, is believed to improve focus and concentration.
- Improved respiratory function: Kapalabhati, a practice that involves rapid exhaling and inhaling, is believed to improve respiratory function and increase blood oxygenation.
- Improved digestion: Dhauti and Basti practices can help to cleanse the digestive tract and improve the overall functioning of the digestive system.
- Better respiratory function: Kapalabhati can help to strengthen the respiratory system and improve lung capacity.
- Improved concentration: Trataka involves staring at a single point for an extended period, which can help improve concentration and focus.
- Physical purification: Dhauti, Basti, and Neti can help remove impurities from the body and improve overall physical health.
- Mental purification: Trataka and Kapalbhati can help calm the mind and improve mental clarity.
- Abdominal massage and toning: Nauli involves massaging and toning the abdominal organs, which can have several benefits, including improved digestion and circulation.
The six shatkarmas are:
Dhauti is a purification technique in the system of Hatha Yoga that involves cleansing the digestive tract. There are several variations of dhauti, including:
- Vamana Dhauti: This involves the cleansing of the upper digestive tract, including the mouth, pharynx, and larynx, through the practice of drinking water and then expelling it.
- Vastra Dhauti: Cleansing the lower digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines, through a cloth. The cloth is soaked in lukewarm water and then swallowed, after which it is slowly drawn out through the mouth.
- Shankhaprakshalana: This involves the cleansing of the entire digestive tract through the practice of drinking large quantities of water and then expelling it through the practice of specific asanas (postures) and movements.
Basti is a purification technique in the system of Hatha Yoga that involves cleansing the colon through the practice of enema. There are two main types of basti:
- Jala Basti: This involves using lukewarm water for the enema. The water is introduced into the rectum through a tube or hose and then expelled after a short retention period.
- Sutra Basti: This involves using a thin, lubricated, and sterilized thread for the enema. The thread is introduced into the rectum and then slowly withdrawn, pulling any impurities.
Neti is a purification technique in the system of Hatha Yoga that involves cleansing the nasal passages and sinuses through the practice of nasal irrigation. There are two main types of neti:
- Jala Neti: This involves lukewarm salt water for nasal irrigation. The water is poured into one nostril and flows through the other nostril, clearing out any impurities or mucus.
- Sutra Neti: This involves using a thin, lubricated, and sterilized thread for nasal irrigation. The thread is inserted into one nostril and slowly drawn out through the other nostril, pulling any impurities.
Trataka is a purification technique in the system of Hatha Yoga that involves the cultivation of steady gaze and concentration through the practice of gazing at a fixed point or object. There are two main types of trataka:
- BhruTrataka: This involves gazing at the space between the eyebrows, known as the “third eye” or ajna chakra. The gaze is held steady, without blinking, for an extended period.
- Anahata Trataka: This involves gazing at a small object, such as a candle flame or crystal, held at a distance of about one foot from the eyes. The gaze is held steady, without blinking, for an extended period.
Nauli is a shatkarma, or purification practice, in Hatha yoga. It involves the isolation and movement of the rectus abdominis muscle to massage and tone the abdominal organs. The practice is believed to improve digestion, circulation, and overall health of the abdominal organs.
To practice nauli, you will need to be able to perform uddiyana bandha, which involves pulling the abdominal muscles inward and upward. Once you have mastered uddiyana bandha, you can isolate and move the rectus abdominis muscle from left to right and vice versa. This movement is called nauli.
Kapalbhati is a type of pranayama (breathing technique) traditionally practiced in yoga. The word “kapalbhati” is made up of two Sanskrit words: “kapal,” which means “skull,” and “bhati,” which means “light.” The name is believed to come from the fact that kapalbhati is thought to help improve the brightness and clarity of the mind.
There are several variations of kapalbhati, including:
- Anuloma Kapalbhati: In this variation, the exhale is through the nose, and the inhale is through the mouth.
- Vikalpa Kapalbhati: In this variation, the exhale is through the mouth, and the inhale is through the nose.
- Surya Bheda Kapalbhati: In this variation, the exhale is through the right nostril, and the inhale is through the left nostril.
- Chandra Bheda Kapalbhati: In this variation, the exhale is through the left nostril, and the inhale is through the right nostril.
Safeguards against Shatkarma
- Practice Under Expert Supervision: It is essential to have the theoretical and practical knowledge to perform any of the six Shatkarma, as doing so requires expertise in that particular kriya. Therefore, it is suggested that a novice perform these kriyas under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher.
- Shatkarma Isn’t an Everyday Practice: Most people must be aware that ancient yogis never recommended Shatkarma as a daily practice like asana, pranayama, or other yoga disciplines. It should be done weekly or monthly, depending on how well your internal organ system functions.
- Use Clean and Sterile Equipment: When performing Shatkriya, ensure all your tools—including your neti pot, water, rubber thread, cotton cloth, and other items—are clean and sterile. These yogic exercises are meant to cleanse your body from the inside out, so whatever you use for them should also be clean.
- Women Shouldn’t Practice It While Pregnant: It is best to avoid practicing Shatkriya while pregnant. You can perform Jal Neti and Trataka if you want to. Other kriyas, which have to do with the movement or purification of the stomach, could impact the fetus’s health.
- Reduce Your Diet: The six Shatkarmas are extremely energizing exercises for your internal organs. Don’t practice Shatkarma until you lighten up your diet because it will strain your organ system and overwork it.
- Keep Calm While Practicing Shatkarma: If anyone aspires to master Shatkriya, they should make sure not to rush through their practice. Your internal organ system can be harmed by any form of hustle when practicing Shatkarma.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
- Who can practice shatkarma?
- Shatkarma is generally suitable for healthy individuals who have a regular yoga practice. It is important to consult with a qualified instructor or healthcare provider before starting any shatkarma practices, as some techniques may not be suitable for everyone.
- Is shatkarma safe?
- When practiced correctly and under the guidance of a qualified instructor, shatkarma can be a safe and effective way to cleanse and purify the body and mind. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and stop if you experience discomfort or pain.
- How often should shatkarma be practiced?
- The frequency of shatkarma practices will depend on your individual needs and goals. Some people may benefit from daily practice, while others may only need to do shatkarma occasionally. It is important to listen to your body and consult a qualified instructor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. It is challenging to conclude about shatkarma without knowing the context in which it is being discussed. However, in general, shatkarma can be a useful and effective set of practices for purifying the body and mind and improving overall health and well-being. When practiced correctly and under the guidance of a qualified instructor, shatkarma can be a safe and beneficial addition to a yoga or wellness routine. However, it is important to remember that shatkarma is not a substitute for medical treatment and should not be used as such. If you have any health concerns or questions, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider.