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The hatha yoga cleansing processes have been placed into six groups of purification practices known as shatkarmas, ‘Shat’ meaning six and ‘karma’ meaning action. They are described in the ancient texts of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gherand Samhita. The six shatkarmas are neti, cleansing of the nasal passages, dhouti, cleansing of the alimentary canal, nauli, strengthening of the abdominal organs, basti, cleansing of the large intestine, kapalbhati, cleansing of the frontal area of the brain and tratak, intense gazing of a point developing concentration and cleansing the mind. A variety of practices come under these categories. We will look at the following cleansing practices that can be helpful for many problems.
1. Bindu Tratak – Concentrated Gazing on Dot
2 .Jyoti Tratak – Concentrated Gazing on Flame
3 . Kapalbhati – Frontal Lobe Cleansing
4. . Agnisar Dhouti – Fire Breath
5 . Jal Neti – Nasal Cleansing with Water
6 . Danda Neti – Nasal Cleansing with Tube
7 . Vaman Dhouti – Stomach Cleansing
8 . Danda Dhouti – Stomach Cleansing with Tube
9 . Vastra Dhouti – Stomach Cleansing with Cloth
10 . Laghu Shankarprakshalan – Partial Cleanse
11 . Poorna Shankarprakshalan – Master Cleanse
As well as the yogic cleansing techniques there are some other recommendations to take into consideration when trying to purify the body. A natural, wholefood, preferably vegetarian, diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, both raw and cooked, whole grains, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds. Try to fill between half to two thirds of the diet with fruit and vegetables. Avoid salt, sugar, saturated fats, fried and fast foods, alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.
Make sure you drink enough fluids. If you are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables then the fluids needed are less. Don’t drink just to complete the daily two litres of water like many books say. It is important to listen to the body. It tells you when it needs water and you can also check your urine so you will know if the amount you are drinking is sufficient. The urine should be a very pale yellow. If you drink too much water it can lead to loss of electrolytes as well as water retention.
Once a week have a fruit and vegetable fast, eating only fresh fruit and steamed or raw vegetables. It gives the digestive system a little break and will also help to clear any old waste. Drink warm water with lemon or herbal teas. If you find it difficult to do this all day then substitute just one meal with fruits and vegetables.
Regular exercise is also important, whether it is sun salutations as exercise or walking, swimming or other forms of exercise. There are so many ways to cleanse and detoxify the body and it is becoming increasingly necessary to do this both for our body and mind. By following a yogic lifestyle we can remain happy, healthy and free of disease.