At certain times of the year we offer workshops on some of the traditional hatha yoga cleansing practices, or Shatkarmas.
Shatkarmas – 6 actions Some yogic texts, such as the Gherand Samhita, the Hatha Yoga Samhita and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, describe hatha yoga as a set of cleansing practices called the shatkarmas. In Sanskrit, shat = 6, karma = actions
These 6 groups of practices are used to attain physical and mental purification, supporting the removal of toxins and creating harmony between the different energies (prana) said to exist within each of us.
The 6 groups of practices are:
Neti – nasal cleansing
Dhauti – internal cleansing of the intestines and stomach
Nauli – massaging and strengthening the abdominal organs
Basti – washing and toning the large intestine
Kapalbhati – a breathing technique for purifying the forntal region of the brain
Trataka – the practice of intense gazing at one point or object which develops the power of concentration and cleanses the eyes
Ha = sun / vital energy / activity / heat / sympathetic =nervous system Tha = moon / passivity / coolness / parasympathetic nervous system
Certain groups of yogis believed that one needed to purify the body and clear any energy blockages by using the shatkarmas, before one could continue on the spiritual path. In ancient times, the other spiritual schools such as Buddhist and Tantric schools, placed emphasis on meditation and ritual. The Yoga Sutras (a yogic text which states yoga as an 8 fold path), placed emphasis on beginning with moral codes before proceeding with the physical practices (asana). Hatha Yoga said to first purify the physical body, remove the physical and energetic blockages, and then it would be easier to change one’s behaviour, follow moral codes, practice asana and sit still for meditation.
We offer workshops in the following:
Nasal irrigation (neti) A small plastic or ceramic pot is used to wash the nostrils with warm, saline water, helping to remove mucus and pollution from the nasal passages and promote drainage of the sinuses, allowing air to flow more freely. This helps to prevent and manage respiratory tract diseases as well as to relieve colds and other disorders of the ears, eyes and throat. Neti is a safe, simple and effective technique that has a relaxing effect on the eyes and can relieve muscular tension in the face. It can help to relieve emotional tension and can alleviate anxiety, anger and depression. By stimulating nerve endings in the nose, neti can support improved activity of the brain and in the overall health of the individual.
Intestinal Cleansing (Shankaprakshalana) Through drinking a number of glasses of warm saline water and performing a set of physical practices, the intestines are washed from the mouth to the anus. Unprocessed waste products which have accumulated in the small intestinal folds are rinsed through the system, removing these residues and the associated tensions. For a more detailed description of this practice please go here. On signing up to the workshop, more detailed instructions about preparation will be provided.
Stomach Cleansing (Kunjal Kriya) Warm saline water is drunk on an empty stomach and then brought back up. This is done following shankaprakshalana but can be done as a stand alone practice also. Kunjal can have many physical, mental and energetic benefits, including issues with indigestion, nausea, gas and acidity in the stomach, headaches, lethargy, anxiety and depression.
Here is what participants have to say about their experience:
"Despite some apprehension beforehand, the whole experience was enjoyable, pleasurable (afterwards) and I felt supported throughout. As always at Satyam Yoga I really appreciate the personal touch and warmth.
I have to admit that on the day the thought did cross my mind why on earth I had signed up for this, and felt apprehensive and slightly anxious. Weirdly, neti was what I was most concerned about, as it felt strange to pour water into one nostril and have it running out of the other. However, I got something out of all the exercises, both in terms of feeling cleaner, as well as in terms of personal achievement. I certainly will use my neti pot again at home, since as soon as I started neti it just came naturally.
I really appreciated the personal support with all the exercises, and afterwards not only felt 'cleansed', but also immensely proud of myself for attempting and achieving all of these exercises. I had quite a blocked nose for several days before the workshop, but on Sunday night and subsequent nights this has cleared up and I had a very calm and deep night's sleep. I would also like to try the other cleansing exercises again, if the opportunity presents itself.
Thank you very much for arranging this kind of workshop, which gives a more holistic insight into what 'yoga' means (not just the asana). Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to experience this. I never thought I'd be discussing bowel movements with my yoga teacher, but if you ever do another cleansing workshop, I am looking forward to signing up!" RW
"I had good time and found it all interesting and instructive. I will certainly try neti again and let my daughter who has sinus problems know about it." MH