types of kriyas

A human body is composed of three doshas commonly named as Vata (one that governs the perfunctory function), Pitta (one that keeps the body’s chemical functions in check) and Kapha (the structure manager of the body). These ‘tridoshas’ (three doshas) need to remain balanced in the body for maintaining a sound health and well-being of an individual. There can be a number of external or internal fluctuations that can lead to a lost balance between these doshas. Gathered waste, harmful toxins are some of the major causes of this disrupted rhythm.

Through the practice of certain cleansing practices, you can restore the body to its natural health and well being by eliminating all the accumulated radicals. These cleansing practices are referred to as the Shat-kriyas in yoga science. Shatkriyas (or Shatkarmas) signifies six types of kriyas that are practiced for ultimate purification of the entire body and mind. These kriyas have been the studied and practiced by sages, gurus and yogis since the evolution of yoga. You can also decipher them as the methods of preparing the body for undergoing intense practice of yoga. Being internally cleansed is of the essence for mental, physical and spiritual beautification.

Shatkriyas form a vital component in the study of eight limbs of yoga. The yogic kriyas are also explained in the ‘Niyamas’ denoting how a swachh (clean) body is closest to the divine. So, if you wish to undergo this celestial route of purification then you can learn about it by undertaking a yoga program or perform it under the guidance of a serious practitioner. Let us discuss the six types of kriyas and their benefits:   

Kapalabhati (Stimulating the brain cells by purifying the brain)

The KAPALBHATI type of kriya is a quaint amalgamation of two words, where KAPAL denotes ‘skull and the functions, organs associated with it’ and BHATI that denotes ‘Glow, Sheen, and Luminosity’. Hence, this category of shatkriya is dedicated to the purification of brain cells and polishing the mind. It is an intense breathing technique which removes all the respiratory blockages from the tracts and detoxifies the entire lymphatic system.

If you are attempting for this cleansing route then ensure not to go beyond 150-200 repetitions.

Neti (Upper Nasal Track)

Neti Kriya denotes purification of the nasal passage and the nostrils. Neti kriya is performed using four types of tools which you can choose from. These tools are Water (Jal), Thread (Sutra), Milk (Dugdha) and Ghee (Ghrita). This style of kriya is highly beneficial in releasing muscular tension from the facial muscles and imparts youthful glow to it. It is also helpful in relieving anxiety, depression and various types of mental congestion. It also balances the entire nervous system.

Trataka (Eye Exercises)

Trataka is a specific type of kriya that works towards promoting good eyesight, developing focus and enhancing physical and mental dedication. It is performed by freezing the vision on a particular object without blinking the eye. There are two types of Trataka kriyas that you can choose from, Jatra and Jyoti. Keep your eyes relaxed at all times while performing it. This would lead to secretion of tear glands which would further purify the visual system.

Nauli (Abdominal muscle and Viscera)

Nauli is an essential kriya implemented for the purification and toning of abdomen and its internal organs. This type of kriya is highly essential in simulating digestive system while cleansing it completely.

Dhouti (Cleansing the intestine)

Dhouti kriya is particularly specific to cleansing of the upper intestine. It is one of the most rigorous yet highly beneficial types of kriya after Nauli ShatkriyaThis kriya is performed with the intention of inducing vomiting in order to clear any impurities or blockages in the intestine.  There are three categories of Dhouti kriya namely, Jala Dhouti, Vastra Dhouti and Danda Dhouti. Specifically advantageous in treating constipation, gastric troubles, and bile disorders, Dhouti Kriya is also helpful in enhancing renal functions and eliminating worm from the liver. Obese people with a loose stomach and poor phlegm benefit greatly from this kriya.

Vasti (Cleaning of the Rectum)

As the abdomen is divided into three parts – upper abdomen, middle abdomen and lower abdomen, Vasti kriya is implemented to purify the lower abdomen. This includes the pelvic zone and bladder too. This is also referred to as the ‘Yogic Enema’ as the process is conducted to clean all the impurities through the colon. This shatkriya is highly advantageous for curing urinary disorders, digestive flaws, treating irregular bowels, and eliminating diseases like flatulence, bile, etc. Vasti kriya is also performed to tone the muscles in lower abdomen.

Learn and practice these soulful kriyas for complete purification of the mind and body. Be sure to practice these under the supervision of a professional yoga teacher only.