Vastra Dhauti (cloth cleansing) is a cleansing practice that focuses on loosening and expelling the mucus from the chest.
How to do Vastra Dhauti (Cloth Cleansing)
- A cloth is required for this practice, which should be clean and new. Finely woven, unstarched, undyed cotton such as white muslin is best. Synthetic material should be avoided. The fabric should be about 2 1/2 cm wide (no wider than the tongue or it will fold as it passes down the throat) and 3 metres long. After some months of practice, the width may be increased to 5 or 6 cm and the length to 6 1/2 metres. Any frayed edges or loose threads should be removed.
- The cloth should be thoroughly washed and boiled in water before using. It should then be placed in a mug or bowl of lukewarm water. Salt n1ay be added to the water, but is not essential. The water keeps the cloth wet so that it slips s1noothly down the oesophagus into the stomach. The cloth may be soaked in warm milk or even sweetened milk, if this makes it easier to swallow.
- The same cloth may be used several times. After the practice, boil it thoroughly in hot water as it will be thick with mucus. Dry it well, preferably in direct sunlight, and store it in a clean place.
- Squat comfortably, or sit on a low stool.
- Place the bowl containing the cloth on the ground between the feet.
- Relax the whole body.
- Take hold of one end of the cloth, leaving the other end immersed in the water.
- Fold the two corners of the end of the cloth so that it is slightly pointed; this will allow it to pass down the throat more easily.
- Place the pointed end as far back on the tongue as possible. Hold the remaining cloth outside the mouth with the index fingers and thumbs as shown in the diagram. Begin to swallow the cloth.
- If it catches in the throat, take a sip or two of warm water, but just a little, as the stomach is to be filled with the cloth and not with water.
- The jaws should move as though gently chewing the cloth, but do not actually chew it. This will induce copious secretions of saliva and enable the cloth to slip down with ease.
- The cloth n1ay stick in the lowest part of the throat, causing a vomiting sensation to be experienced. Stop for a few moments until this passes and then continue swallowing. Once the cloth passes through the junction of the windpipe and the oesophagus, the problem will end and the cloth will slide smoothly into the stomach.
- Gradually feed more and more of the cloth into the mouth as the end slips down the oesophagus, but do not feed it too quickly or it will bunch up in the mouth and make the practice difficult.
- Do not swallow the whole cloth; allow at least 30 em to protrude from the mouth.
Churning: Stand up.
- Practice dakshina (right) and vaman (left) nauli first, then perform rotations.
- Finally perform madhyama (middle) nauli.
- 3 to 5 minutes of nauli is sufficient for cleaning the stomach.
- Beginners should only practise for one minute.
- As an alternative to nauli, agnisara kriya may be practised. The cloth 1nay be left in the stomach for 5 to 20 minutes, but no longer or it n1ay start to enter the intestinal tract.
- Removing the cloth: The cloth must be slowly removed from the stomach.
- Sit back in the squatting position once more.
- Take hold of the cloth and pull it gently but finely.
- Do not pull too hard or it may damage the delicate walls of the stomach and oesophagus.
- There may be some resistance to the withdrawal of the cloth at first, but this will pass after a few seconds and the cloth will come out easily.
- Remove the who1e cloth and let it fall into the mug or bowl.
- It is necessary to become proficient in nauli before practising vastra dhauti.
Time of practice
- This practice should be performed in the morning before any food or drink are taken. The stomach must be completely empty before commencing.
Precautions while doing Vastra Dhauti – Cloth Cleansing
- Do not talk while practising. Do not attempt this practice without the guidance of a competent teacher.
- This practice should not be performed by people suffering fro1n hypertension, heart disease, stroke, peptic ulcer, acute gastritis, during a time of general illness or when the body is in a weakened state.
- It should not be practised until 6 months after any surgery, particularly abdominal surgery, or during pregnancy.
Vastra Dhauti Benefits
- The mucus from the chest is loosened and expelled, while the muscles of the bronchial tubes are relaxed, improving respiratory functions.
- Vastra dhauti induces strong reflexes in the throat and chest region. The practitioner has to wilfully control the urge to vo1nit which, as a result, tones the autonomic nervous system. One gains self-confidence, willpower and a feeling of detachment from the body.
Practice note while doing Vastra Dhauti – Cloth Cleansing
- It may take some practice before being able to swallow the cloth. Remain relaxed, do not strain and the process wil1 become easier. Do not hurry; just swallow the cloth gently. Once the mind accepts the idea, the technique will soon be mastered.
- After swallowing the cloth, the stomach should be massaged by the churning process of nauli, so that the cloth rubs and cleans the stomach walls.