Kriyas is a much-requested subject from our Samyak Yoga Alumni Community. The 6 Yoga Kriyas (Six Cleansing Techniques) are also known as Shat Kriya or Shat Karma as outlined in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. There are 6 types of Yoga Kriyas for complete purification.
As the same suggests, 6 Yoga Kriyas are preliminary purification techniques that are excellent immunity boosters.
There are six kriyas & their purpose is to remove impurities, flush out toxins & prepare the body for the flow of vital energy or ‘Prana’.
Our internal organs comprise 11 effective systems, i.e. circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, and endocrine.
The cleansing of these organs is vital to make sure the body & mind is healthy, calm & disease-free.
Essentially kriyas can be defined as the building blocks of our yoga journey as they help create a heightened sense of awareness beyond the physical level.
These Kriyas are essential preparations, and we practice them before any pranayama, asana, mudra or meditation.
The six kriyas help in the complete detoxification of the alimentary canal, starting from the mouth to the anus.
The Shat Kriyas described in Hatha Yoga include:
धौतिर्वस्तिस्तथा नेतिस्त्राटकं नौलिकं तथा।
कपालभातिश्चैतानि षट्कर्माणि प्रचक्षते ।। २.२२।।
- Dhouti – cleansing of the mouth & food pipe
- Basti – Cleansing of the large intestine (lower abdomen)
- Neti – cleansing of the nasal passages
- Nauli – Strengthening of the abdominal organs
- Trataka – purification of the eyes
- Kapalbhati –Cleansing of the frontal area of the brain
6 Yoga Kriyas for complete purification
1. Dhauti Kriya
In Sanskrit, Dhauti means ‘washing’ In this process, water is consumed to total capacity, letting the impurities flush out from the food pipe by vomiting.
Dhauti kriya helps the internal organs to work efficiently and removes excess mucus from the stomach.
Moreover, consistent practice of Kriyas balances the Kapha, Pitta & Vata doshas in the body.
Some standard dhauti practices include:
Vamana Dhauti –Consuming a large quantity of lukewarm water and then vomiting it out to expel impurities from the food pipe.
Vastra Dhauti – A clean muslin cloth soaked in lukewarm water is swallowed and held in the stomach for a few minutes. Then it’s pulled out from the mouth which brings along out impurities from the intestinal tract.
Other techniques are Danta dhauti (teeth washing), Jihva Dhauti (tongue scraping) and Karna Dhauti (ear cleansing).
2. Basti Kriya
It is a technique that involves replenishing the body internally by cleansing the large intestines.
Basti is practised by sucking in water or air through the anus. Basti literally means “To Hold” and refers to the urinary bladder.
This technique helps treat disorders related to digestion, elimination & flatulence. Jala Basti is one of the common practices among all the types of basti.
Jala Basti –Traditionally, this was practised squatting in a river. “Jala” means water. In this cleansing technique, water is used to clean the bowels.
The process involves taking a tub of water until the navel and sitting over it in Utkatasana.
- Lean forward resting the hands on the knees.
- Suck the water via the anus into the large intestines.
- Exhale & perform Uddiyana bandha & Nauli kriya (abdominal cleanse) simultaneously to create a vacuum-like suction. It draws the water into the lower abdomen & contracts the abdominal muscles.
- Stand up, holding the water inside the bowel for anywhere between 5-30 min.
- Exhale & expel the water through the anus.
- The above steps complete one full round. You can repeat it until the bowels are completely cleansed.
DISCLAIMER – Since this is an advanced kriya please practice this under the watchful guidance of a teacher. This is followed up by Savasana & mudra sequences to expel any remaining water or air.
3. Neti Kriya
Purifies nasal cavities from accumulated impurities. It is very important to clear the nasal cavities as it is the pathway to ‘Prana’ or vital energy. This kriya is done using a clean neti pot.
Neti is of 2 types –
a. Jala Neti – Jala (water) is used as a cleaning tool to remove the impurities from the nostrils.
Using the neti pot, water is poured in through one nostril & then under the effect of gravity, it is expelled out through the other nostril.
Water that comes out from other nostril removes impurities from nasal pathways.
b. Sutra Neti – In this neti, a rubber thread (sutra) is used to massage the nasal pathways so that it opens any blockages present in the nostrils.
4. Trataka Kriya
Trataka Kriya is one of the easiest & effective eye cleansing techniques that involve steady & continuous gazing at any external or internal unmoving point. An illuminated candle at eye level works best.
Consistent and correct practice increases concentration power and purifies the mind from fluctuated thought patterns.
- Internal Trataka is when the focus is rested on the Third eye (located between eyebrows). This helps to awaken the third eye or the 6th chakra – Ajna chakra.
- External Trataka is the practice of gazing at an external object for a continuous period of time. Eg –the illuminated candle is at eye level.
5. Nauli Kriya
It is an abdominal cleansing kriya that involves the movement of the lower abdominal muscles to stimulate the digestive fire.
It is a necessary kriya that maintains movement in all muscles of the body. Nauli practice provides a massaging effect & purifies the liver, spleen, urinary bladder, pancreas, gall bladder, and intestines.
When all these internal organs regularly move, the digestive system and appetite improve. It is done standing with the feet apart & knees bent.
- Madhya Nauli – When left and right, both sides & muscles are concentrated at the centre
- Vama Nauli – When both ab muscles are aligned to the left side from the centre wall.
- Dakshina Nauli – When both ab muscles are aligned to the right side from the centre wall.
6. Kapalabhati Kriya
It is the last of the six kriyas that work on improving the brain’s functioning.
Kapalabhati translates to “Skull Shining”. Often referred to as a pranayama technique, it is a cleansing kriya to improve respiratory health, energise the body & keep the mind alert.
In Kapalabhati, the abdominal wall rapidly draws in and out in conjunction with breathing.
The inhale is passive & the exhale is active, unlike the normal breathing technique. This kriya is performed seated in a legged position.
During your 200 Hrs Yoga Teacher Training Courses at Samyak Yoga Ashram, you will be practising & learning essential kriyas such as Kapalbhati, Neti & Trataka. 300 Hour Training courses which are level – 2 (advanced training) includes Sutra Neti, Vamana Dhauti etc.
Kriyas are best performed under the guided supervision of a teacher.
They bring about a beautiful harmony between the body, breath & mind, enhance vitality & promote bliss.