Purificatory Practices In Yoga
   Date :16-Jun-2024

Purificatory Practices In Yoga
 Y oga envisages that Prana or vital energy flows in the entire body. There are numerous Nadis or channels through which vital energy flows in the human body. Free flow of vital energy ensures good physical and mental health. Any blockage in the flow of energy causes ailments. These blockages take place in forms of impurities and toxins in the body. So it is mandatory to remove these impurities to restore and nurture health. The concept of Ayurvedic medicine is also based upon it. Hence both Yoga and Ayurveda have devised different techniques to remove impurities from the body. The Shat Shuddhi Kriyas or six purificatory practices of Yoga aim at cleansing the entire human body. They are Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Nauli, Trataka and Kapalabhati. Dhauti means cleansing. It is mainly cleansing of the digestive tract. It is of many types. The most common is Vamana Dhauti.
This process involves drinking tepid and salty water and vomit. It removes the toxins from the digestive system. The second one is Vastra Dhauti. A white and medicated cloth three metres in length and ten centimetres in width is gulped and gradually taken out of the mouth. The impurities of the stomach come out with the clothe. These are highly technical practices so they must be done under the guidance of a Yoga expert. Neti is the cleansing of nasal passages with water or a thread. It must also be done under someYoga expert. Basti is one type of enema. Nauli is rotating the lower part of the abdomen. It restores the energy in the abdomen. Trataka is fixing the gaze upon one small point. It increases the focus and enhances the energy flow near the eyes. Kapalabhati is rapid and forceful expulsion of breath. It removes the residual carbon dioxide from the lungs. These purificatory practices are called Pancha Karma or five purification activities in a modified version in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The Ayurvedic purificatory practices are basically therapeutic, whereasYogic purificatory practices are aimed at achieving the highest dimension of consciousness. Yoga is basically calming the mind so that the mind becomes focused and goes inward. The inward journey of the mind leads to tranquillity and ultimately to bliss.
This state of consciousness can’t be achieved without purification of the body and mind. So the first step in theYogic practises is to purify the physical and mental systems. All types of Yoga advocate these purificatory practices in one way or another. The AshtangaYoga of Patanjali has prescribed Yama and Niyamas as the first and second steps of the eighth fold Yoga. Yamas are Satya or truth, Ahinsa or non-violence, Asateya or non stealing, Brahmacharya or control over senses and Aparigraha or non hoarding . These are social norms which ensure purity of our social conduct. Niyamas are Shauch or cleanliness, Santosha or contentment, Tapah or austerity, Swadhyaya or self reflection and Ishvarapranidhana or surrender to the Almighty. These are the personal observances for purity of the body and mind. They are also purificatory practices to elevate the human consciousness.

(The writer is Former DG Police & CG, Homeguards, Maharashtra) ■