Shatkarma Meaning, Types, Benefits, Precautions and Contraindications

What is Shatkarma?

Shatkarma is a Sanskrit term comprises of two words: Ṣhaṭ means ‘six’ and Karma means ‘actions or practices’. Shatkarma is also known as Shodhana Kriya, which as per Haṭhayogic texts; cleanses the body internally by removing accumulated toxins, impurities and poisonous substances from the body. These are the preliminary yogic practices, which are performed before yogasana, pranamaya and other higher level of yogic practices. If you want to experience fast positive impacts of yoga on health, it is better to start with Shatkarma i.e. Kunjal, Kapalbhati, Dhauti, etc.

Shatkarma types

As per Haṭhapradipika, there are six purification practices, which are mentioned below.

  1. Dhauti
  2. Basti
  3. Neti
  4. Trataka
  5. Nauli
  6. Kapalabhati

Shatkarma health benefits

  1. Cures diseases of phlegm and also helps to removes (excess) phlegm and bile- Kunjal.
  2. Beneficial to treat cough, asthma, diseases of spleen, leprosy; and also the diseases caused by excess mucus. It also increases digestive fire along with restoration of strength and cheerfulness-Vastradhauti.
  3. Cures diseases like inflammation of spleen, abdominal disorders and disorders caused by imbalance of three humors viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
  4. Cures enlargement of the glands and spleen and eliminates the diseases arising from excess of wind, bile and mucus- Jalabasti.
  5. Cleanses the cranium; bestows good health to the ENT region and destroys all diseases which manifest in body region above the throat- Neti.                                                                                  
  6. Eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway of creating these problems – Tratak.
  7. It is the panacea of all digestive related disorders, removes indigestion, cures
    all disorders arising due to vitiation of three humors thereby brings good health -Nauli.
  8. It is the cure of all types of diseases. Practicing this Shatkarma, one feel energetic, helps to burn belly fat and weight loss-Kapalbhati.
  9. Alleviates the diseases of stomach and enhances gastric fire -Agnisara.
  10. Cures constipation, provides vigor and energy to the body -Mulshodhana.

Shatkarma precautions

  • One shouldn’t drink the water in a standing posture during kunjal.
  • Lukewarm water should be taken during Kunjal.
  • Clothes shouldn’t touch the roof of the mouth, in fact, it should be remained on the tongue during Vastradhauti.
  • Rice-milk pudding should be taken immediately after finishing this kriyā
  • Yogic enema should not be performed during cloudy, rainy or windy weather.
  • The sutra in Sutraneti should be clean and it should be inserted and pulled very slowly and gently.
  • During Jalneti, one shouldn’t blow very hard as it may push water into the ears.
  • Salt should be added to the water in appropriate proportion as too much and too little salt will cause burning sensation and pain in case of Jalneti.
  • Breathe through the mouth throughout the practice during jalneti.
  • The flame should be still and should not flicker at all in case of Taratak.
  • Inhalation should be spontaneous i.e. without effort; and the exhalation should be with force but at the same time it should not make the person feel breathless in Kaplbhati.

Shatkarma contraindications

  • Those who have heart diseases should avoid performing Kunjal.
  • Person suffering from stomach/intestinal ulcers, hernia, high blood pressure and heart diseases must not practice Kunjal.
  • Basti should be avoided in case of rectal bleeding and diarrhoea.
  • Persons suffering from nose bleeding shouldn’t practice Sutraneti and Jalaneti
  • Persons having glaucoma or chronic eye disorders should seek medical advice before practising Taratak.
  • Those suffering from heart disease, hernia, hyper tension, gastric or duodenal ulcers (and during pregnancy) should not practise Nauli. People recovering from internal injury or surgery of the abdomen also should not perform it.
  • Nauli should be discontinued immediately if pain is felt in the abdomen during practice.
  • Kapalbhati should be avoided by the person suffering from cardiac conditions, giddiness, high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, stroke, hernia and gastric ulcers.
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