Yogic Cleansing Practices for Beginners
How do we cleanse our body in yoga? We can use yogic cleansing practices for beginners. In Hatha yoga, we learn about Kriyas which are intended to help cleanse the body and balance the three bodily humors, or doshas. When we are in balance, we ensure good health. In classical yoga, there are six kriyas. The four yogic cleansing practices for beginners can be utilized by anyone, with or without a teacher. These are Skull Shining Breath, Candle Gazing, Saline Nasal Irrigation, and Abdominal Churning. Two of the kriyas require personal instruction, dhauti, cleansing the stomach with water or a thin strip of cloth, and vasti, the practice of washing the large intestine with water or air.
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4 Yogic Cleansing Practices for Beginners
According to Hatha Yoga, candle gazing cures diseases or the eyes and removes tiredness. It can focus the mind, improve concentration, and is calming. It is a good preparation for meditation. In India, candle gazing is practiced with a flame of a small oil lamp as it is steadier than a candle.
- Light a candle or oil lamp and place it on a low table so it is level with the eyes. Sit on the floor with a meditation posture and keep the back straight and the shoulders relaxed.
- Begin with 30, 45, or 60 seconds of gazing. Do your best to stick to the time without looking turning your gaze to a clock. Try not to blink. This can be hard at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. Gradually increase your time with practice.
- Gaze at the flame without blinking or moving your eyes. Keep your attention focused on the flame. Your eyes may wander, that’s normal. Keep a steady mind and resist the urge to blink. When your set time is up, close the eyes gently.
- With your eyes closed, an after image of the flame may appear behind your eyelids. Observe it like a focal point for your meditative mindset. When it disappears, start your next round of gazing.
- At the end of three rounds, rub your hands together to build up friction and warmth. Cover your eyes with the cupped palms and let the eyes relax in the soothing darkness. This practice is called palming.
Saline Nasal Irrigation
Saline Nasal Irrigation is one of the yogic cleansing practices for beginners that cleanses the skull. It removes mucus congestion and grit from the nasal cavity. The yogi pours water into one nostril and lets it run out the other. All you need is a Neti Pot (paid link). It will have a specially designed spout that fits inside the nostril so you can pour in water without splashing too much.
- Fill the Neti Pot with warm, salted water. Bend forward over the sink and tilt the head to one side. Relax! Breathe through the mouth and gently pour water through the upper nostril. Gravity will take care of the process. Inhale through your mouth. Blow your nose when the pot is empty and repeat the process in the other nostril.
- Dry out the nasal passages after you have finished with the cleanse. Try closing one nostril with your finger and blowing out of the other.
Skull Shining Breath
Skull Shining Breath is a gentler form of Bellows Breath in our yogic cleansing practices for beginners. Exhale rapidly and once the lungs have been forcibly emptied, a vacuum is created, which means fresh air will naturally flow into the lungs. Next take a slow, unforced inhalation. Practice ten to thirty breaths per round and rest in between.
According to Hatha Yoga, Abdominal Churning fans the gastric fire, improves digestion, and removes all disease. Many use this to start a morning practice. This kriya strengthens the abdominal muscles and massages the abdominal organs. First, practice the abdominal lock, uddiyana bandha, before attempting abdominal churning.
- From the abdominal lock, keep your abdomen drawn in and keep your chin pressing in. Press down on the hands against the thighs and push out the abdominal recti. Relax the recti, then the abdomen. Inhale gently and stand up to rest. This is the first stage, which should be mastered before moving into the second stage.
- For the second stage, press down the right hand only, pushing only the right rectus out. Sway your hips slightly to the left. Then press on the left hand, pushing only the left rectus out. Over time you will gradually learn to push the recti out left, both, right, both, left, both and so on. This will create a wave like motion of the abdominal wall that massages the internal organs. Try practicing three to five rounds, stand to rest, and take recovery breaths between rounds.
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