Hatha Yoga – Yogic Kriyas in a Nutshell

Article by Shailja Kapur

Hatha Yoga is the branch of Yoga which emphasises on the purification of the body by practicing certain physical techniques.
The term Yoga has such a depth itself that to understand its true essence one must practice with principles.
To my understanding, the art of Hatha yoga can simply be described in two contexts:

In literal context, Hatha is a Sanskrit word which means “force” but here force is not the pressure but effort you put in for physical discipline to practice the techniques that leads to the path to attain the Supreme state of Bliss.

The spiritual meaning, Hatha is derived from the Sanskrit syllables “Ha” and “tha”. “Ha” means the Sun and “tha” means the moon. It is the union of these energies that brings the balance to the energy channels in our body and makes us whole and complete.
Hatha Yoga is divided into two segments: Yogic Kriyas and Yogic Asanas.

Hatha Yoga - Yogic Kriyas in a Nutshell
Image by Wonderlane

In this article, I will try to spread the awareness of Yogic Kriyas.
Yogic Kriyas also known as Shatkarma or the six purification techniques in the Hatha yoga. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Shat means six and Karma means process or technique.
Shatkarma are powerful techniques, though works in the physical body but ultimately creates great impact on emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.

Yogic Kriyas require precautions therefore it is not meant for everyone or people with certain health conditions. All these practices must be learned after consultation and under guidance from a Yoga Guru, teacher or practitioner. With most of the Yogic Kriyas there are so much hidden benefits which one must realise only by practicing in a disciplined way.

Neti

It is a yogic nasal wash or purification of the nose. It is a yogic practice to cleanse the nasal passage and detoxify the sinuses with warm saline water. This practice helps in removing the dirt from the nostrils and clears the mucous lining. In scientific term it is called Nasal irrigation.
It can either be performed by water (Jala Neti) or special thread of cotton or soft rubber catheter (Sutra Neti). There are various modifications to this technique; as it can be performed by milk (known as Dugdha Neti) or Ghee (Ghrita Neti).

Benefits: Beneficial for those with ailments like sinus headache, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, hay fever and tinnitus.
It moistens the eyes and makes vision clearer by cleaning the tear ducts.
This practice brings the free flow of Prana, The Universal Life force energy which helps in improving concentration and memory by balancing the left and right brain hemispheres. It also brings balance to the chakras.

Dhauti

It is one of the yogic practices of purification of the upper digestive tract; the stomach and oesophagus. It is of so many types but the popular ones are Jala Dhauti and Vastra Dhauti.
Jala Dhauti (Kunjala Kriya) involves drinking of warm saline water in an empty stomach; water quantity depends on individual’s capacity (litre to two) and then vomiting it out.
Vastra (cloth) Dhauti is performed by swallowing finely woven cotton cloth (at least a meter in length and not wider than the tongue) which is dipped in saline water and then pulling it out slowly. It is always advisable to leave a few centimetres of cloth hanging out of the mouth. It MUST be learned and practice under expert guidance.

It is beneficial for those with allergies, asthma and acidity problems but not recommended for those with eye problems or high blood pressure.

Kapalabhati

It is Sanskrit word Kapal means skull or cranium (including all its organs) and Bhati means shining.
This technique is also called skull shining breathing. Some classified it as Pranayam but in Yogic terms it is a breathing technique for cleansing. It is practiced on an empty stomach with alternating short and forceful active exhalations and passive inhalations. Inhalations happen naturally.
It should also be performed after Neti. But if the nose is blocked try Kapalabhati first.

Benefits: This technique helps in balancing the water element in the body. It helps in weight loss, strengthens the stomach or abdominal muscles, improves blood circulation, calms the mind, treats stress, anxiety and energises the nervous system, cures insomnia and much more.
If practiced in a disciplined way may lead to awakening of the Third Eye chakra as it clears the subtle energy channels.

Trataka

It is a Sanskrit word which means “to gaze” or “to look”. It is also known as Yogic Gazing or concentrated Gazing.
It is one of the Yogic Kriyas (techniques) of meditation where we bring the moment of stillness by focussing on an object without moving or blinking the eyes till the point where we cannot avoid to blink the eyes or they became watery and then visualising the image of the same object in the third eye (Ajna Chakra) by closing the eyes.
“Candle flame” is being the best object to visualise.

BenefitsThis technique of Hatha Yoga calms the mind that helps in meditation and improves will power and concentration. This leads to the development of intuitive or psychic abilities.
It is believed to improve eye health as it purifies the eyes and strengths eye muscles.
To me this technique of meditation greatly helps in a journey towards your inner-self as it greatly helps in disconnecting from the outer world for a while.

Nauli

It is one of the powerful techniques of Hatha Yoga.
It is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘nala’ meaning tubular vessel which is related to rectus abdomini (six abs muscles).
It is yogic abdominal massage of isolating the rectus abdomini muscles which require turning of the abdominal muscles. It should be learned in stages and Uddiyana Bandha or Agnisara is the first step towards it.
The best time to practise is with empty stomach in the morning.

Benefits: This technique gives good massage to the abdominal organs, stimulates kidney functions, reduce indigestion and excellent in reducing the belly fat. It activates the Solar Plexus chakra, strengthens the abdominal muscles and overcomes certain Gynaecological problems as well.

Basti

In another words it is Yogic enema. It is yogic process of cleaning the colon and lower intestine. It is difficult technique to learn. It should be learned only when the person is able to perform all the other Yogic kriyas as this practice requires excellent control of certain organs and muscles.
It is of two types: Jala and Sthala.

Jala Basti: It is the process of cleaning the colon by sucking water into the anus and then expelling it. It is easier as compared to Sthala basti.
Sthala basti: also called Vata basti or air enema. It is the process of cleaning the colon by sucking air into the anus by contracting the sphincter muscles.
To perform Sthala basti one must be perfect in Jala Basti.
As this process removes heat from the body it should not be performed in cold days or weather.

Benefits: It balances the air element in the body, stimulates the Root chakra, excellent against colic problems, helps in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and makes digestive system better.
This technique is not meant for everyone as it involves certain precautions for e.g. those with high blood pressure or serious digestive disorders.

All yogic practices should be performed with hygienically clean water in a clean area.
The sole purpose of the article is to raise the awareness and spread the knowledge that gives inspiration to learn depending on the individual need or requirements. All these practices must be learned from Yoga Guru, teacher or practitioner.

I bow at the lotus feet of my Sadguruji, “Shri Chaman Lal Kapur Ji Maharaj” for his divine guidance and blessings.

Shailja Kapur
Shailja Kapur

Shailja Kapur is a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Healer. She got passion for various Reiki practices and other healing modalities. She also practices Candle Healing, Distant Healing, Crystal Healing, Dowsing, Magnified Healing, Yoga and Guided Meditation. She always felt a strong connection with Reiki. She had started practicing Reiki since her childhood without knowing what she used to do is called Reiki. As possibilities are endless with Reiki, her enthusiasm to experiment Reiki and share her experiences with the world. She believes self- purification, self-dedication and selflessness enhances your Reiki experiences. Shailja can be reached via her e-mail address divinereikiblessings@gmail.com.

One thought on “Hatha Yoga – Yogic Kriyas in a Nutshell

  • February 13, 2017 at 10:24 am
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    This article is really knowledgable for every yoga practitioners.

    Reply

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