By Simon Borg-Olivier, 1st April 2014
The sat-kriyas of hatha yoga are six kinds of ‘cleansing processes’ for the body and the mind. They have many manifestations. One of the best explanations of these sat-kriyas and their many variations can be found in the Yoga Makaranda of Sri T. Krishnamacharya.
The kriyas are of six types:
1. Dhauti Kriya,
2. Basti Kriya,
3. Neti Kriya,
4. Nauli Kriya,
5. Trataka Kriya, and
6. Kapalabhati Kriya.
There are many variations of each kriya. According to Sri T. Krishnamacharya some kriyas are as simple as brushing your teeth (Dantamula Dhauti) and some are as complex as pushing out part of your large intestine through your rectum and washing it with your hands (Bahish Kritha Dhauti)!
The sat-kriyas are also ancient yogic cleansing processes that can totally clean the digestive system. One kriya involves swallowing salty water and then passing through your bowels and out of the rectum (Vari Sara Dhauti). Another kriya involves swallowing a long cloth and the stomach is then ‘washed’ with the cloth (Vastra Dhauti).
In this short video filmed at the Yoga Synergy Teacher Training Course in Goa India this year, I demonstrate how to use Nauli Kriya (abdominal churning) as well as external pressure from my hands and by balancing my abdomen on my elbows (Mayurasana) to massage my internal organs. This yields some surprising results.
Please note this video was filmed on the 1st of April 2014.
On a more serious note in the following video I demonstrate the ‘essence’ of Kriya (cleansing exercise) during mudra (energy controlling activity). You can see me doing special types of the following six kriyas in their usually more accessible postural form:
1. Dhauti (in the form of external pressure in postures such as Mayurasana as well as the use of the tongue being lengthened and then pressed into the back of the throat as in Danda Dhauti)
2. Basti (chest and pelvic floor expansion with exhalation retention that can allow air to enter into the rectum during practice in order to oxygenate the internal walls of the large intestine),
3. Neti (in the form of prana neti – conscious breath control from right to left side of body and left to right, and citta neti – conscious mental observation of the body parts from right to left side of body and/or left to right during postures),
4. Nauli (controlled hyperventilation with abdominal control in viparita karani mudra (inversions)),
5. Trataka (eye control in the form of dristi , e.g. in dog pose keeping the gaze on the navel and during the salute movements allowing the gaze to move upwards to the third eye centre on inhalation and then downwards to gaze at the tip of the nose on exhalation as described in our recent blog on Drishti),
6. Kapalabhati (controlled hyperventilation throughout the postures).
You can learn more about kriyas, mudras, bandhas, pranayamas, vinyasas and asanas in our online courses entitled ‘Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga’ and ‘Teacher Training Essentials: Yoga Fundamentals’.
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