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Basti Kriya, second Shatkarma practice.

In our previous article, we introduced the Shatkarma practices. We saw that they are yogic ways to clean and purify the body and mind to facilitate energy flow.

That energy, called Prana, circulates the body via channels. The channels, or Nadis in Sanskrit, are like a whole branch system dividing from Sushumna, the spiritual Nadi. When the energy flows fluidly, the yogi can attain higher states of consciousness and eventually reach Samadhi.

Nadis over the body

The Shatkarma practices are meant to keep the Nadis free from impurities so that the Prana can flow freely. There are six Shatkarma practices, each regulating the function of an internal organ and cleaning the body and mind from waste. Not all of them have to be performed regularly, and most of them need the supervision of a professional until the practices are mastered.

In our last article, we discussed the Dhauti Kriya, which was divided into four categories and aimed at purifying the digestive tract.

This article will dive into the second Shatkarma practice: Basti Kriya.


Basti Kriya, general benefits.

Basti is the second of the Shatkarma practices and is meant to clean and purify the lower intestines.

The Basti practices can provide relief for chronic digestive problems related to the large intestine, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, and fissures of the anal region. Also, since many nadis terminate near the anus, the practice of Basti can increase general energy by activating the nervous system and increasing the flow of Prana in the anal region. It also helps deal with Kapha and Pitta imbalances and improves muscular control in the pelvic floor.


The practices are divided into two types; the Jala Basti, using water, and the Sthala Basti, using air.


Jala Basti, cleansing with water.

In Jala Basti, the yogi stands in water up to his navel in Utkatasana, or chair pose, and takes water inside his anus by contracting and expanding the anal region. The Utkatasana position favorises an optimal contraction and expansion of the anus in coordination with the breath. With the contraction and expansion, water is taken in and out of the anus. With the water comes the impurities, waste products, and excessive wind caught in the anus.

Utkatanasana

It is similar to the Western enema, where the patient inserts a spout into the anus and pushes water into it. The difference is that the Basti practitioner will develop muscular control in his perineal area instead of staying passive while using the spout.

The practice of Jala Basti is known in the yogic culture to remove wind disorders and urinary and digestive problems. It is also known to help reduce internal heat and manage dry dermatitis in the anal region.

In Western medicine, an enema is used solely to relieve constipation, clean the bowel before specific medical procedures, or administer certain medications to cure other digestive problems.


Sthala Basti, cleansing with air.

Sthala Basti, on its part, is done in a dry place. In this practice, the yogi sits in a simple Paschimottanasana position, legs extended, grabbing his toes, and keeping his spine straight. He takes air inside his anus by contracting and expanding it in coordination with his breath, as in Jala Basti.

Paschimottanasana

For those who have difficulty sucking air in the anus, a rubber tube of around 3 to 6 cm long and 1 to 1,5 cm in diameter can be inserted carefully in the anus with the help of ghee. Once the tube is partly inserted, the practitioner must focus on his breath. The inhalation will engage the diaphragm, automatically engaging the pelvic floor muscles. Negative pressure will be created, and air will be automatically sucked up through the pipe into the anus. With the exhalation, the diaphragm releases, and the air is pushed out.

According to the yogic culture, Sthala Basti removes stomach and bowel diseases and increases digestive fire. It also helps to gain control over the abdominal muscles.


Requirements and precautions

It is crucial to refrain from practicing these daily. Some bacteria are essential for the body's general health, and a too regular practice would impact the growth of bacteria and harm the intestine and the pelvic muscles.

The Basti Kriyas have to be practiced under the guidance of a teacher and only when necessary. The experienced teacher can analyze the required practices and how to prepare the practitioner according to his needs, skills, and environment.

The Basti practices shouldn’t be undertaken by people suffering from high blood pressure, hernia, and serious digestive diseases.

A teacher can recommend the regular practice of Basti if the yogi suffers from persistent digestive problems. Whereas the Shankhaprakshalana practice, seen in our previous article about Dhauti, can also help relieve the same conditions as Basti, it can only be practiced every six months. Under a teacher’s guidance, the Basti practices can be done more regularly if needed.

The Basti practices are better done in the morning before breakfast, and the practitioner shouldn’t eat for at least one and a quarter hours after the procedure.



Japam has Yoga Therapy classes for people suffering from specific health conditions. We also teach Shatkarma practices to those who need them. Our teachers are experienced in practicing and teaching them. The Basti Kriyas can be taken on appointment with our teachers and are done in a safe and private space. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to book an appointment.

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