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Shankhaprakshalana Or Varisara Dhauti - Cleansing Of The Entire Digestive Tract In Shatkarma, How to do Shankhaprakshalana Or Varisara Dhauti - Cleansing Of The Entire Digestive Tract, Benefits of Shankhaprakshalana Or Varisara Dhauti - Cleansing Of The Entire Digestive Tract, Precautions, & a note for yoga practitioners

Shankhaprakshalana (Cleansing Of The Entire Digestive Tract)

Shankhaprakshalana or Varisara Dhauti (cleansing of the entire digestive tract) is a cleansing practice mentioned in the book ‘Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha’ written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. It focuses on alleviating digestive problems and toning the liver and other digestive organs and glands.

How to do Shankhaprakshalana Or Varisara Dhauti

Technique I

Preparation

  • It is advisable to take a light, semi-liquid meal the night before undertaking this practice.
  • Plenty of clean, lukewarm water should be available and also extra hot water in case the temperature of the water cools. Add 2 teaspoons of salt per litre to the water, so that it tastes mildly salty.
  • Prepare a special khichari of good quality white rice and mung dal, cooked with ghee, clarified butter. The rice and lentils should be cooked together in water until soft. A little haldi, turmeric, may be added, but no salt. Finally, the clarified butter should be liberally mixed in so that the final preparation is semi-liquid.
  • The khichari should be eaten at the end of the practice, after a 45-minute rest period, and again later in the day. No asana or physical work should be performed, and no food or beverages should be taken before commencing the practice. Not evacuating the bowels prior to the practice helps stimulate the peristaltic movement.
  • Light and comfortable clothing should be worn. Complete intestinal wash: Drink 2 glasses of warm salty water as quickly as possible.
  • Perform the following 5 asanas dynamically, 8 times each in the following sequence.
  1. Tadasana
  2. Tiryaka tadasana
  3. Kati chakrasana (variation)
  4. Tiryaka bhujangasana
  5. U darakarshanasana.
  • This is one complete round.
  • Do not rest between rounds.
  • Drink 2 more glasses of warm salty water and again repeat the 5 asanas 8 times each.
  • Repeat this process a third time.
  • After the third round, go to the toilet and see if there is any movement in the bowels, if they have not yet been emptied. Do not strain.
  • Resume the practice, regardless of whether there has been any movement or not; it is not essential at this point. Drink 2 more glasses and repeat the 5 asanas 8 times. Again go to the toilet, but do not use force to produce a bowel move1nent.
  • Continue drinking the water, performing the asanas and going to the toilet, allowing the pressure to build up. Spend as little time in the toilet as possible, a minute or so is enough. The aim is to build up the internal cleansing pressure.
  • At first solid stool will be evacuated, followed by a mixture of stool and water. As the practice progresses, more water and less solid stool will be excreted. Eventually, cloudy yellow water and, finally, almost clear water will be evacuated.
  • Sixteen glasses are generally required before clear water is evacuated, but it varies from person to person.
  • The speed at which one completes the practice should not be compared with that of others.
  • The practice should be performed in a relaxed way at one’s own pace.
  • Supplementary practices: Kunjal kriya followed by jala neti may be performed 10 minutes after completing the internal wash.

Rest

  • Total rest is essential after completion of the practice. Do not take a shower or bathe.
  • Lie down in shavasana for 45 minutes, but do not sleep as a headache or cold may result. It is important to keep warm during this resting period. Try to maintain mouna, silence. During this time the whole digestive system is given a chance to revitalize itself.
  • Passing urine at this time is perfectly normal.

Special meal

  • Exactly 45 minutes after completing shankha­ prakshalana the specially prepared khichdi must be taken.
  • Eating this meal at the correct time is essential. The rhythm of the body has been temporarily disturbed; however, 45 minutes after completion of the practice the digestive functions resume.
  • The three components of khichdi are helpful in the restoration of correct digestive function. The clarified butter is necessary to coat the intestinal walls until the body produces a new lining. The rice provides a simple, easily digestible packing material in the form of carbohydrate, and creates mucus, which also protects the inner lining of the alimentary canal. The lentils supplement the diet by giving the body an easily digestible source of protein, and make for an all-round nutritious meal.
  • A sufficient quantity of khechadi must be eaten to reline the intestines and keep the walls of the gut stretched, otherwise they may cramp due to the absence of the bulk to which they are accustomed. This bulk not only maintains the tone, but aids the intestines to resume peristalsis. It is also important in order to prevent indigestion, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Further rest

  • Having eaten, further rest is necessary. However, it is important not to sleep for at least three hours after the initial meal. Sleep during this period may lead to physical lethargy and headache. Complete rest should be taken for the remainder of the day. During this period, it is advisable to keep silence, mauna, and avoid physical or mental work. Rest the following day also.

Second meal

  • Khichari should also be prepared for the late afternoon or evening meal, about 6 hours after the first special meal. The stomach must be filled to capacity at both meals, even if there is no feeling of hunger.

Place of practice

  • The best place to practise shankhaprakshalana is in an ashram, in an open area where there is plenty of fresh air. Ensure that adequate toilet facilities are nearby.
  • The practice is best undertaken with a group of people. The atmosphere should be relaxed, friendly and light­ hearted, with no apprehension concerning the practice, as this can create tension and prevent free bowel movement.

Climate

  • Shankhaprakshalana should not be performed when the weather conditions are exterme. Those who live in cold climates should practise in the sum1ner when the days are warm and dry. This is important, as it is easy for the stomach and intestines to become chilled. On the other hand, do not practise when it is very hot as this would produce too much sweat and the experience would be exhausting.
  • Very cloudy, windy or rainy weather is also to be avoided.
  • The best time to practise is at the changeover of seasons.

Frequency

  • This practice should not be performed more than twice a year.

Duration 

  • The whole day should be put aside for this practice and the following day for rest.

Food restrictions

  • For at least one month after the practice, all chemically processed, synthetic, pungent, spicy, acidic, rich and non-vegetarian foods must be strictly avoided.
  • No pickles, sweets, chocolates, ice cream or soft drinks should be taken. Milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and all fruits, especially acidic fruits such as lemons, grapefruit, oranges or pineapples are restricted. Alcohol, cigarettes, tea, coffee, betel nut preparations such as paan and any type of intoxicant or drug should not be taken.
  • The diet should be as pure, simple and neutral as possible. It may include foods such as rice, wheat, bread, vegetables with a low acidic content, nuts, lentils and other pulses.
  • Common sense must be used in this regard. After shankhaprakshalana the digestive system is very vulnerable and extra care should be taken to protect it.

Warning

  • This practice should only be attempted in an ashram or yoga centre under the guidance of a competent teacher. All guidelfnes and restrictions must be followed strictly to avoid experiencing harmful side-effects. Those who are unable to follow these restrictions should not practise shankhaprakshalana. They will find the simplified version, laghoo shankhaprakshalana, more appropriate to their needs.
  • Strong medication such as antibiotics should be avoided for one month. Regular medication can be discontinued during the practice and recommenced 2 or 3 days after the practice.

Shankhaprakshalana Benefits

  • Physically, shankhaprakshalana alleviates digestive problems and tones the liver and other digestive organs and glands. It strengthens the immune system, reduces excessive mucus and purifies the blood.
  • Shankhaprakshalana recharges the entire prank body, removes blockages from the nadis and purifies all the chakras. The harmony of the five pranas is restored and the energy level is raised.
  • Mentally, it calms the mind and prepares the way for higher states of consciousness. Any sadhana performed after this cleansing practice gives manifold results.
  • Practice note While Doing: The five asanas which form the core of the practice activate intestinal peristalsis and enhance the cleansing process. When performed in the correct sequence, they progressively open the pyloric valve at the outlet of the stomach, then the ileocaecal valve at the exit of the small intestine and finally the sphincter which forms the anus.
  • Tadasana acts mainly on the stomach and stretches the colon; tiryaka tadasana acts on the small intestine and colon; kati chakrasana massages the small intestine; tiryaka bhujangasana and udarakarshanasana squeeze and mas­ sage the caecum, sigmoid colon and rectum, and also stimulate the urge to defecate.
  • Those who have difficulty drinking rapidly or develop a feeling of nausea should reduce the quantity of water from two to one glass before each round. The quantity of salt may also be reduced.

Precautions while doing Shankhaprakshalana Or Varisara Dhauti – Cleansing of the Entire Digestive Tract 

  • It is important not to exceed the point beyond which almost clear water without specks of solid matter is being passed, as the system may start producing bile, indicated by bright yellow water. It is better to stop when the water is still slightly cloudy. While resting for 45 minutes after terminating the practice, one should not sleep as a headache or cold may result.
  • No water or other fluids should be taken until at least 2 hours after the first special meal. Cold liquid will chill the digestive system. Drinking or eating anything before the prescribed period will dilute and wash away the new protective layer which is being reproduced by the body on the stomach and intestinal wall.
  • Fans and air-conditioning should not be used until the evening as the body must be kept warm to prevent chills and fever. If the room is cool, the body should be covered with a blanket to maintain the inner body temperature. Sitting in the hot sun, near a fire or doing physical exercise should be avoided.
  • Rest periods should be maintained very carefully.
  • Mental strain and stressful situations should be avoided.

Note

  • The word shankhaprakshalana comes from two words: shankha, meaning ‘conch’, and prakshalana, meaning ‘to wash completely’. The word shankha is intended to represent and desc1ibe the intestines with their cavernous and coiled shape. Traditionally, this practice was known as varisara dhauti, but nowadays it is better known as shankhaprakshalana. The word varisara comes from two words: vari, meaning ‘water’, and sara, meaning ‘essence’. This practice is also a pari of kay a kalpa, which is an ayurvedic technique for physical purification and transfor11Ultion, kaya meaning ‘body’ and kalpa, ‘transformation’.

Technique 2: Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – Short Intestinal Wash

  • Two litres of warm salted water should be prepared as for poorna shankhaprakshalana
  • Quickly drink 2 glasses of the prepared water.
  • Perform the following 5 asanas 8 times each:
  1. Tadasana
  2. Tiryaka tadasana
  3. Kati chakrasana (variation)
  4. Tiryaka bhujangasana
  5. Udarakarshanasana.
  • Drink 2 more glasses of water and repeat the asanas 8 times each.
  • Repeat the process for a third and last time.
  • Go to the toilet, but do not strain, whether there is a bowel movement or not.
  • If there is no motion immediately, it will come later on. Additional practices: Kunjal kriya and jala neti may be per­ formed immediately after completing the practice.

Time of practice

  • Laghoo should be practised in the morning when the stomach is completely empty, before any food or drink is taken.

Duration of Doing Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – Short Intestinal Wash 

  • Allow an hour for this practice.

Frequency

  • Once a week is sufficient for general purposes. In cases of constipation, however, it may be practised daily until the condition improves.

Rest

  • On completion of the practice, rest for half an hour before taking any food or drink.

Restrictions

  • There are no special food restrictions and no special food has to be taken following this practice, although a light vegetarian diet is preferable for that day.

Benefits of doing Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – Short Intestinal Wash

  • The laghoo or short method is intended to encourage normal functioning of the intestines. 
  • It is an excellent method of encouraging good bowel movement and is ideal for regular use and for those who are unable to practise the full version. 
  • Laghoo is recommended for digestive disorders and to flush out the kidneys.

Precautions while doing Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – Short Intestinal Wash

  • Do not try to force a bowel movement; it should be completely natural.
  • People with heart or kidney problems, or high blood pressure, should not practise shankha­ prakshalana. 
  • Those suffering from any medical condition should seek guidance from their doctor before attempting it, especially those taking medication. 
  • This practice should also be avoided during pregnancy.

Practice note while doing Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – Short Intestinal Wash 

  • Greater benefits may be derived by combining this practice with light food. Medication may be safely continued.

Technique 3: TTK solution

  • One litre of warm salted water should be prepared as for shankhaprakshalana, or pure unsalted water at room temperature can be used if the weather is not too cold.
  • The first 3 asanas of the shankhaprakshalana series are used:
  1. Tadasana
  2. Tiryaka tadasana
  3. Kati chakrasana (variation)
  • Quickly drink one glass of the prepared water.
  • Practise tadasana 1 0 times and drink a second glass of water.
  • Practise tiryaka tadasana 1 0 times and drink a third glass of water.
  • Practise kati chakrasana 10 times and drink a fourth glass of water.
  • Go to the toilet, but do not strain, whether there is a bowel movement or not. If there is no motion immediately, it will come later on.

Time of practice

  • The TIK solution should be practised in the morning when the stomach is completely empty, before any food or drink is taken and before other asanas.

Frequency

  • Once a week is sufficient for general purposes. In cases of constipation, however, it may be practised daily until the condition improves.

Restrictions

  • There are no special food restrictions and no special food has to be taken following this practice.

Benefits of doing Technique 3: TTK solution

  • This practice helps to prevent constipation and related digestive problems. It makes the body feel light and ensures a healthy intake of water first thing in the morning.

Precautions while doing Technique 3: TTK solution

  • Do not try to force a bowel movement; it should be completely natural.

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