If you have ever been curious about taking your yoga practice to another level, consider learning about shatkarmas and their incredible benefits.
Translating from Sanskrit as “six actions”, the shatkarmas are a series of Hatha yoga purifications that serve a number of incredible purposes.
Said purpose of the six shatkarmas is to take away “gross impurities”, cure a range of different diseases, and prepare the body for pranayama (trapping the breath to force vital energy into the central Sushumna channel, allowing kundalini to rise and attain moksha (liberation).
Let’s take a look at the six shatkarmas – Netī, Dhautī, Naulī, Basti, Kapālabhātī, and Trāṭaka – and their incredible purpose and benefits.
- If you have ever been curious about taking your yoga practice to another level, consider learning about shatkarmas and their incredible benefits.
- Tell Me The Good News’ interesting facts about the shatkarmas:
- Other notable mentions
- Your questions answered about the shatkarmas
Tell Me The Good News’ interesting facts about the shatkarmas:
- There are six different shatkarmas – Netī, Dhautī, Naulī, Basti, Kapālabhātī, and Trāṭaka.
- These six shatkarmas draw inspiration from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. They incorporate herbal remedies, purifications, and therapies to achieve balance and health.
- Each shatkarma serves a different purpose, from clearing the nasal passages to strengthening the abdominal muscles and beyond.
- The overall purpose of the six shatkarmas is to take away any impurities and toxins from the body and cleanse the mind.
- It is recommended to practice and experience the shatkarmas under the guidance of a professional, experienced healer for proper execution.
6. Netī – cleansing of the nasal passage and sinuses
Netī is a practice that involves cleansing the nostrils using a neti pot. This is a small pot with a spout filled with warm saline water.
The benefits of this shatkarma are incredible for those who suffer from hay fever, colds and flu, sinus inflammation, nasal blockages, irritations in the nasal passage, and many more. There are also great benefits for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Carrying out this process can balance the autonomic nervous system, protect the upper respiratory functions, reduce headaches and migraines, and more. Mentally, this process can improve focus and mental congestion.
The two most common types of Netī are Jala Netī (using water) and Sutra Netī (using a thread).
5. Dhautī – digestive cleansing technique
The next of the six shatkarmas is Dhautī. Dhautī involves the cleansing of the digestive tract by drinking large quantities of saltwater. It also helps to alleviate ailments of the pancreas, liver, and kidneys.
Then, after performing a series of yoga asanas, the water moves through the digestive system and should be expelled orally by simultaneously pressing on the abdomen and extending fingers down your throat.
Benefits of this shatkarma include a massage of the abdominal organs. It also aids digestion and maintains a healthy gastrointestinal system.
Note that this should only be practised in the presence or from the advice of a professional. Do not perform this shatkarma if you have severe digestive disorders or are pregnant.
4. Naulī – abdominal stimulation
Similarly to Dhautī, Naulī involves massaging and stimulating the abdominal muscles. Typically performed on an empty stomach, Naulī is often incorporated into pranayama or yogic breathing exercises.
This practice has several fantastic benefits, including improved digestion, constipation relief, reduced bloating, weight loss, a calm mind, and reduced anxiety levels.
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3. Basti – colon and large intestine cleansing
This process involved cleansing the colon with warm water or herbal solutions. This practice is immensely beneficial for people who suffer from digestive issues and other disorders relating to the gastrointestinal system.
The benefits include better digestion, a strengthened immune system, pain relief, hormonal balance, better skin, and better respiratory health. This practice is often referred to as the “yogic enema” or “yogic cleanse”.
2. Kapālabhātī – rapid abdominal breathing
Kapālabhātī involves a process of rapid inhalation and exhalation where the yogi fills their stomach with air and empties the lungs in rapid succession by pulling in breath effortlessly through the nose.
This powerful practice is said to strengthen the respiratory system, improve digestion, and boost metabolism. It is probably the shatkarma that requires the least effort and little contact with other elements.
This process has a calming effect on the mind and can effectively reduce stress and anxiety.
1. Trāṭaka – eye gazing
The word Trāṭaka translates from Sanskrit as ‘to gaze’. It involves setting your sights on a fixed point or object, like a candle flame, an image, or a point on the wall.
Trāṭaka aims to help improve concentration and focus. It increases blood circulation to the eyes and has many benefits, including improved eye health, concentration, and mental clarity.
It is also considered a form of meditation that is said to help reduce stress and anxiety. To practice, you simply sit cross-legged with your eyes fixed to a certain point. Then, stare without blinking or moving your eyes for an extended period of time.
As you practice more, you will find that you can focus for longer without straining your eyes or without your eyes watering.
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Other notable mentions
Energy levels: Practicing the six shatkarmas can boost energy levels and improve vitality. These practices are known to rejuvenate individuals.
Potential risks: These shatkarmas should only be carried out under the supervision of professionals. For example, when practising Kapālabhātī, be careful not to strain. For the Kriya, practice in the morning on an empty stomach.
Holistic and mental well-being: While the shatkarmas have many great physical benefits, they also encompass mental and spiritual aspects of health.
Your questions answered about the shatkarmas
If you still have questions, don’t worry! In this section, we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about the six shatkarmas online.
What are the six shatkarmas?
The six shatkarmas are Netī, Dhautī, Naulī, Basti, Kapālabhātī, and Trāṭaka. Each individual shatkarma has unique and incredible benefits.
What is meant by Shatkarma?
The word shatkarma comes from two Sanskrit words, ‘Shat’, meaning six, and ‘Karma’, meaning action. As such, it translates to “the six actions” in Hatha Yoga.
What is the order of Shatkarma?
Also known as shatkriyas, the six shatkarmas are Netī, Dhautī, Naulī, Basti, Kapālabhātī, and Trāṭaka, but there is no specific order in which they should be practiced.
Each shatkarma has its own benefits, so read about the target areas and benefits and practice the right one for you.
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