Kriyas : The Cleansing Techniques of Yoga

kriyas and doshas

Ayurveda has defined three doshas of the body, which are actually constituents of the body. Human body is made up of three doshas –

  1. Vata Dosha – Constituents of the body responsible for mechanical functioning.
  2. Pitta Dosha – Constituents of the body controlling the chemical functioning and make up.
  3. Kapha Dosha – Constituents which comprise the material configuration. When these components of the body are in equilibrium the body functions properly and is healthy.

Yoga has a process for keeping the balance of the doshas. The recommended process comprises of six steps and is known as Shat Kriyas. The six step process is a cleansing technique to purify the whole body. All the Kriyas have effect on all the doshas. The Kriyas are:

  • Neti – These are techniques to cleanse the nasal passage. In Yoga pranvayu (Breath) passes through the nasal passage hence its cleaning has to be done. Various forms of Neti are Jal Neti, Dugdha Neti, Ghrita Neti and Sutra Neti.
  • Dhauti – The technique of cleansing the stomach and the digestive tract is known as Dhauti. It consists of four parts antar Dhauti, danta Dhauti, hrid Dhauti, and moola Dhauti. After practicing this yogic kriya stomach and digestion are in equilibrium.
  • Nauli – This cleansing technique is performed through massage of the abdomen. The aim of this kriya is to purify the digestive organs and the small intestine and is done by circular movement of the muscles of the stomach. There are four different variations of Nauli. They are
    1. Madhya Nauli – The movement of the muscles in the center of the abdomen.
    2. Vama Nauli – The movement of the muscles of the left part of abdomen.
    3. Dakshina Nauli – Moving the muscles of the right part of the Abdomen
    4. Nauli Kriya – The complete movement of the muscles of the Abdomen.
  • Kapalabhati – The cleansing of Lungs and the esophagus. It is done using the breathing in to contract the abdominal muscles while exhaling. This will result in the stomach going inside. Then it involves forceful exhaling through the nostrils making a hiss sound. It helps in keeping the mind clear and cleanses the impurities of the Kapala (Head).
  • Basti – This cleansing technique is to purify the colon. The toxins are moved out of the body through defecation, and the colon has high concentration of toxins. Medicated oils and Ghee are used as Enema to clean the colon. This kriya cleanses the colon removing toxins and strengthens the digestive systems and increases the immunity.
  • Trataka – Trataka is a kriya which requires constant gazing at an object. It is a forerunner of meditation and involves concentrating on the gaze. This helps the mind to come to a halt. The gaze is done first on an object and then on a candle flame. Trataka helps in strengthening the retina muscles which helps in curing eye problems. It is also effective in removing stress and fatigue.

These Shat Kriyas are very essential practices in Yoga and are taught at most of the genuine Yoga Teacher Training Schools in Rishikesh. It helps keeps the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha in equilibrium which is essential in keeping the human body.