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Shatkarma- the six purificatory exercises in Hatha Yoga

Shatkarma- the six purificatory exercises in Hatha Yoga

Postby mohan » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:32 am

One should become perfectly desireless and should be full of Vairagya before attempting to awaken Kundalini. It can be awakened only when a man rises above Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and other impurities. Kundalini can be awakened through rising above desires of the senses.
The Yogi, who has got a pure heart and a mind free from passions and desires will be benefited by awakening Kundalini. If a man with a lot of impurities in the mind awakens the Sakti by sheer force through Asanas, Pranayamas and Mudras, he will break his legs and stumble down. He will not be able to ascend the Yogic ladder. This is the chief reason for people going out of the way or getting some bodily infirmities. There is nothing wrong in the Yoga. People must have purity first; then a thorough knowledge of the Sadhana, a proper guide, and a steady, gradual practice. When Kundalini is awakened there are many temptations on the way, and a Sadhaka without purity will not have the strength to resist.

A thorough knowledge of the theory is as essential as the practice. Some are of opinion that theory is not at all necessary. They bring one or two rare instances to prove that Kundalini has been awakened even in those who do not know anything about Nadis, Chakras and Kundalini. It might be due to the grace of a Guru or by mere chance. Everyone cannot expect this and neglect the theoretical side. If you look at the man in whom Kundalini has been awakened through the grace of a Guru, you will not at once begin to neglect the practical side and actually waste your time in passing from one Guru to the other. The man who has a clear knowledge of the theory and a steady practice, attains the desired goal quickly.

Kundalini can be awakened by Pranayama, Asanas and Mudras by Hatha Yogis; by concentration and training of the mind by Raja Yogis; by devotion and perfect self-surrender by Bhaktas; by analytical will by the Jnanis; by Mantras by the Tantrikas; and by the grace of the Guru (Guru Kripa) through touch, sight or mere Sankalpa. Rousing of Kundalini and its union with Siva at the Sahasrara Chakra effect the state of Samadhi and Mukti. No Samadhi is possible without awakening the Kundalini.

For a selected few, any one of the above methods is quite sufficient to awaken the Kundalini. Many will have to combine different methods. This is according to the growth and position of the Sadhakas in the spiritual path. The Guru will find out the real position of the Sadhaka and will prescribe a proper method that will successfully awaken the Kundalini in a short period. This is something like the doctor prescribing a proper medicine to a patient to cure a particular disease. One kind of medicine will not cure the diseases of different patients. So also, one kind of Sadhana may not suit all.

There are many persons nowadays who foolishly imagine that they have attained purity, commit errors in selecting some methods and neglect many important items of Sadhana. They are poor, self-deluded souls. Self-assertive, Rajasic Sadhakas will select some exercises of their own fancy in an irregular manner and leave all the exercises when they get some serious troubles.

After Kundalini is awakened, Prana passes upwards through Brahma Nadi along with mind and Agni. You will have to take it up to Sahasrara Chakra through some special exercises such as Mahabheda, Sakti Chalana, etc.

As soon as it is awakened, it pierces the Muladhara Chakra (Bheda). It should be taken to Sahasrara through various Chakras. When Kundalini is at one Chakra, intense heat is felt there and when it leaves that centre for another Chakra, the former Chakra becomes very cold and appears lifeless.

Freedom from Kama, Krodha, Raga and Dvesha and possession of balance of mind, cosmic love, astral vision, supreme fearlessness, desirelessness, Siddhis, divine intoxication and spiritual Ananda are the signs to denote the awakening of Kundalini. When it is at rest, a man has full consciousness of the world and its surroundings. When it is awakened he is dead to the world. He has no body-consciousness. He attains Unmani state. When Kundalini travels from Chakra to Chakra, layer after layer of the mind becomes opened and the Yogi acquires psychic powers. He gets control over the five elements. When it reaches the Sahasrara Chakra, he is in the Chidakasa (knowledge space).

Awakening of the Kundalini Sakti, its union with Siva, enjoying the nectar and other functions of the Kundalini Yoga that are described in the Yoga Sastras are misrepresented and taken in a literal sense by many. They think that they are Siva and ladies to be Sakti and that mere sexual union is the aim of Kundalini Yoga. After having some wrong interpretation of the Yogic texts, they begin to offer flowers and worship their wives with lustful propensities. The term “Divine intoxication that is derived by drinking the nectar” is also misrepresented. They take a lot of wine and other intoxicating drinks and imagine to have enjoyed the Divine ecstasy. It is mere ignorance. They are utterly wrong. This sort of worship and union is not at all Kundalini Yoga. They divert their concentration on sexual centres and ruin themselves. Some foolish young boys practise one or two Asanas, Mudras and a little Pranayama too for a few days, in any way they like, and imagine that the Kundalini has gone up to their neck. They pose as big Yogis. They are pitiable, self-deluded souls. Even a Vedanti (a student of Jnana Yoga) can get Jnana Nishtha only through awakening of the Kundalini Sakti that lies dormant at the Muladhara Chakra. No superconscious state or Samadhi is possible without awakening this primordial energy, whether it is Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga or Jnana Yoga.

It is easy to awaken the Kundalini, but it is very difficult to take it to Sahasrara Chakra through the different Chakras. It demands a great deal of patience, perseverance, purity and steady practice. The Yogi who has taken it to Sahasrara Chakra, is the real master of all forces. Generally Yogic students stop their Sadhana half-way on account of false Tushti (satisfaction). They imagine that they have reached the goal when they get some mystic experiences and psychic powers. They desire to demonstrate such powers to the public to get Khyati (reputation and fame) and to earn some money. This is a sad mistake. Full realisation alone can give the final liberation, perfect peace and Highest Bliss.

Different methods of awakening the Kundalini by Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga will be described one by one. Some aspirants will not get perfection by only one method. A harmonious combination of all methods is necessary for the vast majority of persons. In the following pages I will tell you the different exercises that are intended to awaken the Kundalini. If you are wise enough, after a perusal of the different exercises, you can easily pick up the right method of Sadhana that suits you best and attain success.

Rousing of Kundalini and its union with Siva at the Sahasrara Chakra effect the state of Samadhi and Mukti. Before awakening the Kundalini, you must have Deha Suddhi (purity of body), Nadi Suddhi (purification of Nadis), Manas-Suddhi (purity of mind) and Buddhi Suddhi (purity of intellect). For the purification of the body, the following six exercises are prescribed:
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Re: Shatkarma- the six purificatory exercises in Hatha Yoga

Postby mohan » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:36 am

Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Nauli, Tratak and Kapalabhati. These are known as Shat-Karma or the six purificatory exercises in Hatha Yoga.

1. Dhauti
Purification is of two kinds: Antar-Dhauti (internal cleaning) and Bahir-Dhauti (external cleaning). Antar-Dhauti can be made in three ways. Take a fine piece of muslin cloth, 3 inches wide and 15 feet long. The borders should be stitched well and no pieces of loose thread should be hanging from its sides. Wash it with soap before use and make it clean. Dip it in tepid water. Squeeze out the water and swallow one end of it little by little. On the first day swallow only one foot. Keep it there for a few seconds and then take it out very slowly. On the next day swallow a little more and keep it for a few minutes and then take it out slowly. Thus little by little you can swallow the whole length, retain it for about 5 minutes and then take it out. Do not be hasty. Do not injure your throat by rough handling. When the Kriya is over drink a cup of milk. This is a sort of lubrication for the throat. This exercise should be done when your stomach is empty. Morning time is good.

You need not practise this every day. Once in 4 days or a week is sufficient. This exercise cannot at all do any harm if gradually practised. Everyone will feel a little vomiting sensation on the first 2 or 3 attempts. As soon as the Kriya is over, wash the cloth with soap and keep it always clean. This is an excellent exercise for those who are of a flabby and phlegmatic constitution. Gradual steady practice cures Gulma, gastritis, dyspepsia, diseases of the stomach and spleen, disorder of phlegm and bile. This exercise is also known as Vastra Dhauti. This is one variety of Antar-Dhauti.

There are some people who can drink plenty of water and pass it through the anus immediately. It is called Varisara Dhauti. This is an effective method. This exercise is also known as ‘Sang Pachar Kriya’. Yogi Sambhunathaji of Kishkindha is an expert in this Kriya. This is not possible for the vast majority of persons. Nauli and Uddiyana Bandha should be combined for performing this exercise. Even the smoke of a cigarette can be passed out through the anus.

Drink a large quantity of water and shake the abdominal portions. Contract the stomach and vomit the water. This exercise goes with the name ‘Kunjara Kriya’. This is also a kind of purificatory exercise.

Internal cleaning can be made also by swallowing air. Fill up the stomach with plenty of air. It is done by hiccough. Just as you swallow food little by little, so also you can swallow air and fill up the stomach and intestines. You will have to learn this from the man who can do this Kriya. When you contract the abdominal muscles, the air will pass away through the anus as Apana Vayu. Those who can fill up their stomach with air, can float on water just like a dead body and can also live on air and water alone for some days without any food. Those who can do Antar-Dhauti in any way, need not go in for any purgative or laxative. They will never suffer from indigestion or constipation.

There are some other Dhautis, viz., Danta Dhauti (cleaning the teeth), Jihva Dhauti (cleaning the tongue), Karna Dhauti (cleaning the ears), Mula Sodhana Dhauti (cleaning the anus), etc. These are being done by you all everyday. I need not tell you much about these.

2. Basti
‘Basti’ exercise is intended to serve the purpose of ‘enema’ to pass out the accumulation of faeces from the intestinal canal. There are two varieties, viz., Sthala Basti and Jala Basti.

STHALA BASTI: Sit on the ground and catch hold of your toes with fingers. Do not bend the knees. This is exactly like the Paschimottanasana, but here you need not bring your head to the knees. Assuming this posture, churn the abdominal muscles and dominal muscles and expel the water. It cures uriter muscles. This is Sthala Basti.

JALA BASTI: This is more effective than Sthala Basti. Take a small bamboo tube, five inches long. Lubricate one end of it with vaseline, oil or soap. Sit in a tub of water or in a tank in knee-level of water in Utkatasana. Insert the bamboo tube about 2 or 3 inches into the anus. Contract the anus. Draw the water into the intestines slowly. Shake the abdominal muscles and expel the water. It cures urinary troubles, dropsy, constipation, etc. You should not do this everyday and make it a habit. This is only for occasional use. Do this in the morning hours before taking meals. If you do not know how to draw in the water through the tube, then you can use the ordinary syringe that is available in the market. By the use of the bamboo, you will know the method of drawing water through the anus. But in the enema syringe water is being pushed in by the help of air. That is only the difference but the result is the same in both cases. By using the bamboo tube you can have mastery over the intestinal muscles by drawing in and pushing out the water at your command.

3. Neti
‘Neti’ exercise is intended for the purification of the nostrils. The nostrils must be kept always clean. Unclean nostrils will lead you to irregular breathing. Irregular breathing will make you sick.

Take a fine piece of thread about 12 inches long. There should not be any knot in the middle of the thread. It should not be too thin and weak. Insert one end of it into the right nostril and catch hold of the other end firmly. Make a forcible, continuous inhalation and pass it inside. Then slowly pull it out. Again in the same way pass it through the left nostril and take it out slowly. Do not injure your nostrils through violent pulling. After some practice, pass the thread through one nostril and take it out through the other. In the beginning you will begin to sneeze profusely when you insert the thread into the nose. This passes off after 3 or 4 attempts. This can be practised when you find that your nostril is blocked from cold.

There is another easy method of cleaning the nostrils. Take some cold water in your hand or in a wide-mouthed cup. Draw the water slowly through the nose and expel it forcibly through the nose. There are many who can do this quite easily. After one or two attempts some persons may suffer from slight cold and cough when they begin to learn this. As soon as they are all right, again, they can practise.

You have seen many who draw the smoke of a cigarette through the mouth and pass it by the nose quite easily. If cigarette users try, they can draw the smoke through one nostril and pass it out by the other nostril or by the mouth. In the same way water also can be passed quite easily.

Drawing water and expelling it through the nose is known as ‘Seet-Krama’. If you draw water through the nose and expel it through the mouth, it is called ‘Vyut-Krama’. In Gheranda Samhita it is stated that this Neti Kriya purifies the skull and produces clairvoyance (Divya Drishti). Rhinitis and coryza are also cured thereby.

4. Nauli
Nauli Kriya is intended for regenerating, invigorating and stimulating the abdominal viscera and the gastro-intestinal or alimentary system. For the practice of Nauli you should know the Uddiyana Bandha. Uddiyana can be done even in a sitting posture; but Nauli is generally done while standing.

Stage I: Do a strong and forcible expiration through the mouth and keep the lungs completely empty. Contract and forcibly draw the abdominal muscles towards the back. This is Uddiyana Bandha. This is the first stage of Nauli. Uddiyana Bandha terminates in Nauli.

For practising Nauli, stand up. Keep the right leg a foot apart from the left leg. If you keep up the feet close together, at times you may lose the balance and stumble down. Rest your hands on the thighs, thus making a slight curve of the back. Then do Uddiyana Bandha. Do this for one week before proceeding to the next stage.

Stage II: Now allow the centre of the abdomen free by contracting the left and right side of the abdomen. You will have all the muscles in the centre in a vertical line. This is called Madhyama Nauli. Keep it as long as you can with comfort. Do only this much for a few days.

Stage III: Here you should contract the right side of the abdomen and allow the left side free. You will have the muscles on the left side only. This is called Vama Nauli. Again contract the left side muscles and allow the right side free. This is Dakshina Nauli. By having such gradual practices, you will understand how to contract the muscles of the central, left and right sides of the abdomen. You will also notice how they move from side to side. In this stage you will see the abdominal muscles only in the central, right or the left side. Practise this stage for a week.

Stage IV: Keep the muscles in the centre. Slowly bring to the right side and then to left side in a circular way. Do this several times from the right to left side and then do it in a reverse way from the left to right side. You should turn the muscles always with a circular motion slowly. When you advance in the practice you can do it quickly; but you can derive full benefits of this Kriya when you do it very slowly and gradually. This last stage of Nauli will appear like ‘churning’ when the abdominal muscles are isolated and rotated from side to side.

Beginners will feel slight pain of abdomen in the first two or three attempts. They need not fear and stop the practice. The pain will vanish away in 2 or 3 days. When Nauli is demonstrated by the advanced Yogic student, the onlookers will be extremely surprised to look at the movements of the abdominal muscles. They will feel as if an engine is working in the abdominal factory.

When beginners want to do Dakshina Nauli, they should slightly bend towards the left side and contract the left muscles. When they want to do Vama Nauli, let them bend a little to the right side. In Madhyama Nauli, push the entire muscles forward by contracting the two sides.

This exercise is not at all possible for those who have a barrel-like belly. When they find it difficult to carry their own belly, they cannot at all dream of getting success in this Kriya. They can also try by gradual slow practice. For getting success, they must exert hard and have rigorous practice for a long time. Those who have a tender body can very easily learn and perform this Kriya in a beautiful and efficient manner.

In the famous Hardwar cosmopolitan platform where Punjabis and Bengali Baboos stroll in the evening with their ladies, on the banks of the Ganges, some persons demonstrate Nauli and various other Asanas and Mudras for the sake of a few pies only. They pass on from one exercise to the other very quickly. You will find the same in Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Madras and in all the busy centres. This is only a sort of profession. It is not at all Yoga. It is only a variety of physical feats. From the very condition of their body you will find that they do not possess all the qualifications and aims of a Yogi, They do not even appear physically better, since they are habituated to intoxicant drinks, Ganja, Bhang, etc.

If the Yogic exercises are done in the right way with the right mental attitude, it will surely lead you to spiritual growth. Nauli Kriya eradicates chronic constipation, dyspepsia and all other diseases of the gastro-intestinal system. Nauli helps Sang Pachar and Basti Kriya also. The liver and pancreas are toned. The kidneys and other organs of the abdomen function properly. Nauli is a blessing to humanity. It is a sovereign specific ‘uni-all’ or an ideal ‘pick-me-up.’

5. Trataka
‘Trataka’ is steady gazing at a particular point or object without winking. Though this is one of the six purificatory exercises, it is mainly intended for developing concentration and mental focusing. It is very useful for the students of Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. There is no other effective method for the control of the mind. Some of the students who claim that they belong to Jnana Yoga, neglect such important exercises since they are described under Hatha Yogic portions. Sri Ramana Maharshi the famous Jnani of Tiruvannamalai, was doing this exercise. You could have seen it clearly if you had been to his Ashram for his Darshan. While seated on his sofa in his room, he used to gaze on the walls. When he sat on the veranda in an easy-chair, he steadily looked at the distant hills or at the sky. This enabled him to keep up a balanced state of mind. Nothing could distract his mind. He was very calm and cool always. He was not at all distracted by any one even though his Bhaktas might be talking and singing by his side.

EXERCISES
(1) Keep the picture of Lord Krishna, Rama, Narayana or Devi in front of you. Look at it steadily without winking. Gaze at the head; then at the body; then at the legs. Repeat the same process again and again. When your mind calms down look at a particular place only. Be steady till tears begin to flow. Then close the eyes and mentally visualise the picture.

(2) Gaze on a black dot on a white wall or draw a black mark on a piece of white paper and hang it on the wall in front of you.

(3) Draw the picture Om (!) on a piece of paper and have it before your seat. Do Trataka on it.

(4) Lie down on an open terrace and gaze at a particular bright star or on the full moon. After some time, you will see different colours of lights. Again some time later, you will see only a particular colour throughout, and all other surrounding stars will disappear. When you gaze at the moon, you will see only a bright moon on a black background. At times you will see a huge mass of light all around you. When gazing becomes more intense, you can also see two or three moons of the same size and at times you cannot see any moon at all even though your eyes may be wide open.

(5) Select at random any place in the open sky in the morning or evening hours and gaze at it steadily. You will get new inspirations.

(6) Look at a mirror and gaze at the pupil of your eye.

(7) Some people do Trataka at the space between the two eyebrows or at the tip of the nose. Even during walking, some persons do Trataka at the tip of the nose.

(8) Advanced students can do Trataka at the inner Chakras, (Padmas). Muladhara, Anahata, Ajna and Sahasrara are the important centres for Trataka.

(9) Keep a ghee-lamp before you and gaze at the flames. Some astral entities give Darshan through the flames.

(10) Very few Yogins do Trataka on the sun. It requires the help of an experienced man by their side. They begin to gaze on the rising sun and after gradual practice they do Trataka on the sun even in the midday. They get some special Siddhis (psychic powers) by this practice. All are not fit for this Sadhana. All the first 9 exercises will suit everyone and they are harmless. The last one, sun-gazing should not be attempted until you get the help of an experienced man.


INSTRUCTIONS
When you do the practice in your meditation room, sit in your favourite Asana (posture), Siddhasana or Padmasana. At other times you can do in a standing or sitting posture. Trataka can be profitably done even when you walk. As you walk along the streets, do not look hither and thither. Gaze at the tip of the nose or toes. There are many persons who do not look at the face when they talk to others. They have their own gaze at a particular place and talk. No particular Asana is required for this Sadhana.

When you gaze at a picture, it is Trataka. When you close your eyes and mentally visualise the picture, it is Saguna Dhyana (meditation with form). When you associate the attributes of God such as omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, purity, perfection, etc., the name and the form of the object of Trataka will automatically disappear and you will enter into Nirguna Dhyana (abstract meditation).

Do Trataka for two minutes to start with. Then cautiously increase the period. Do not be impatient. Gradual steady practice is required. Gazing at a spot even for three full hours continuously counts for nothing, if the mind is wandering. The mind also must be on the spot. Then only you will advance in this practice and attain many psychic powers.

Those who cannot gaze steadily for a second in spite of several attempts, need not worry much. They can close their eyes and gaze at an imaginary spot at the space between the two eyebrows.

Those who have very weak eye-capillaries should do Trataka after closing their eyes on any imaginary spot within or without. Do not tax your eyes by over-practice. When you feel tired, close your eyes and keep your mind on the object of Trataka. When you sit and do Trataka do not shake the body.

Trataka improves eyesight. Many who had some eye-troubles have realised immense benefits by Trataka. Going beyond one’s own power and gazing at the sun without any help may produce serious troubles. For gazing on the sun you must have your guide by your side. The Guru will prescribe some oil to rub on your head to avoid such serious troubles and to cool the system. You should apply honey to your eyes at night when you practise sun-gazing.

The same object of gazing will appear as something else during the practice. You will have many other visions. Different people have different experiences. You will not even believe certain things when others tell you of their experiences. Trataka alone cannot give you all Siddhis. After the control of the mind, when it becomes steady, you will have to manipulate the mind by prescribed methods for the attainment of powers. Therefore the powers that are obtained by this practice may vary in different persons. It depends upon the further training of the mind, in a particular way.

Young aspirants, who pose as big Yogins, neglect such practices and ask whether this practice is Moksha. Certainly that practice itself is not Moksha. Different practices are for the attainment of Moksha. One can attain the goal by a particular method, others by different methods. Remember this point always. Otherwise you will be neglecting all the methods. You will be misguided and lose the goal if you neglect the Sadhana.

By the practice of Trataka, diseases of the eyes are removed. Eye-sight improves. Many have thrown away their spectacles after taking to this practice. Will-power is developed. Vikshepa is destroyed. It steadies the mind. Clairvoyance, thought-reading, psychic cure and other Siddhis are obtained very easily.

Once again I will tell you that Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, etc., are not incompatibles like Cocaine and Soda Bicarbonate. They are not antagonistic to each other. Do not neglect this exercise for the mere reason that it comes under Hatha Yoga portions. Even though you may claim to be a student of Jnana Yoga or Bhakti Yoga, you can take to this practice. It is a very effective powerful remedy for a wandering mind. It prepares the mind undoubtedly for perfect Dhyana and Samadhi. This is assuredly a means for the end. You must ascend the Yogic ladder or stair-case step by step. Several persons have been benefited by this useful exercise. Why not you, also, dear friend, sincerely attempt to practise this from this moment? I have given you different exercises for Trataka. Select any one of the methods that suits you best and realise the spiritual benefits. Do this for one month regularly and let me know your experiences, benefits and also troubles, if any.

6. Kapalabhati
Kapalabhati is an exercise for the purification of skull and lungs. Though this is one of the Shat-Karmas (six purificatory exercises), yet it is a variety of Pranayama exercises.

Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana. Keep the hands on the knees. Perform Puraka (inhalation) and Rechaka (exhalation) rapidly. Those who can do Bhastrika Pranayama can easily do this. In Bhastrika there is a Kumbhaka (retention of breath) for a long time at the end of the required rounds. But in Kapalabhati there is no Kumbhaka. Again in Kapalabhati, Puraka is very long and mild, but Rechaka is too quick and forcible. In Bhastrika, Puraka is done as quickly as Rechaka. This is the only difference between Kapalabhati and Bhastrika. In Kapalabhati, Rechaka should be done forcibly and quickly by contracting the abdominal muscles with backward push. To start with, have only one expulsion per second. In the beginning do 10 expulsions per round. Gradually increase 10 expulsions to each round till you get 120 expulsions for each round.

It cleanses the respiratory system and nasal passages. It removes spasm in bronchial tubes. Consequently Asthma is relieved and cured also in course of time. Consumption is cured by this practice. Impurities of the blood are thrown out. The circulatory and respiratory systems are toned to a considerable degree. Shat-Karmas are intended for the purification of the body. When Nadis are impure Kundalini cannot pass from the Muladhara to Sahasrara Chakra. Purification of Nadis is effected through Pranayama. For Pranayama, you should know well about Prana.
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