Skip to main content

Shatkarma (six inner body cleansing techniques): a way of disease-free life



In the yogic tradition, this cleansing is known as shatkarma or shatkriyas. Kriyas or yogic cleansing procedures are an important part of yoga as they help eliminate toxins accumulated in the system. Kriyas also help to rejuvenate the body and put it in the proper condition for the proper functioning of yogasana and pranayama.


The purpose of the present qualitative study was to discuss in detail the various aspects of cleaning techniques (shatkarma) and their implication of disease-free life.


The present article has discussed scientifically the various aspects of shatkarma or six cleansing techniques and their importance in human health. The purification of inner bodily chambers is very important to detoxify our body and remove waste materials. In order to bring balance to tri-dosh vata, pitta, and kapha and empower our internal systems such as blood circulation, digestion, respiratory system, and defense the role of shatkarma, one cannot be ignored.


Yoga is believed to increase the neurotransmitter dopamine (natural anti-depressant) and strengthen your nervous system. A strong mind–body connection, a healthy body, and focusing inward can help towards greater happiness. Most yoga practitioners report a huge reduction in the amount of hostility they feel as well as a sense of control when anger and stress reduction. Moving tension out of the body, de-stressing, meditating, and breath control reduce stress considerably. Shatkarma removes impurities of the internal body, organs which got accumulated by regular intake of external matter through different sensory organs. To make sure of the proper flow of prana (life force), shatkarma ensures there is not any physical/mental knot present in nadis.


There is growing concern about the health effects of environmental degradation. Biological changes affect the functioning of the ecosystem and significant environmental disturbances can lead to life-sustaining environmental impact. The production of fortified food and irrigation, fertilizer application, crop protection (pesticides), or the introduction of plant varieties and planting patterns affect biodiversity and thus affect global nutritional status and human health. To facilitate the loss of habitat, the extinction of species often increases the risk to communities as a function of environmental health acceptance (WHO Report) [1].

At the beginning of human life or on earth, God created the human mind pure and clean, full of all righteousness. It was the cleanness and purity of the human mind that produced the best results of integrity in the world. But in time, pollution began to enter the human mind and body. Naturally, integrity is defined as a state of well-being centered on noble intentions. Cleaning is the process of removing impurities from an object, which may adversely affect the quality of the item, or contaminate the actual quality. Cleansing one’s mind by remembering the teachings of purity can enlighten us on chastity [2].

The concept of cleanness can be viewed in a broader sense as physical and mental cleanliness. Ancient writings, such as “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” and “The Gheranda Samhita,” describe concrete experiments aimed at the creation and preservation of the purity (shaucha) mentioned by Patanjali. This experiment gave the name shatkarma (Sansk. shatkarman: shat, six; and karma, action). Six actions mean 6 types of exercise aimed at maintaining a healthy and specific concrete body for these psychologists and energy influences [3, 4].

Limbs, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. can be termed as external parts of the body. There are many more internal organs in our body. We clean our external parts twice or thrice a day or whenever any dust or dirt accumulates on them. We do so because we see them. Then what about internal organs? The dirt accumulated on or in them is not visible, so we do not pay any attention to keep them clean as we do for our external organs. Cleanliness of internal organs or parts is much more important than the external ones. Our saints and Yogis have prescribed many processes to clean and remove out the unwanted matter accumulated in the internal organs of the body. These may be done either before or after practicing yogasanas [4].

Healing methods in yogic science are based upon inside-out purification, holistically operating upon the mind, body, and soul. Asana, physical exercises to attain this purified state, and pranayama or breathing exercises to build energy into the body are the two main supplementary techniques in yoga. Without proper cleansing, your body and mind will never be ready to receive maximum benefits from the yogic practices which are meant to propel the soul towards a higher sense of consciousness [5].

What is shatkarma (six purification techniques)?

Shatkarmas (Sanskrit: षटकर्म {ṣaṭkarma}, six literal acts), also known as shatkriyas [6] is a set of purifying Hatha yoga for the body, in preparation for the ultimate yoga practice in relation to moksha (freedom). These practices, described by Svatmarama in Haṭha Yoga Pradipika as kriya, are Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Basti, Kapalabhati, and Traṭaka [6,7,8,9].

The Haṭha Ratnavali cites two other purifiers, Cakri and Gajakarani, criticizing Hatha Yoga Pradipika for describing only the other six [5]. Their aim is to remove “excessive pollution,” cure various ailments, and prepare the body pranayama, to trap air or prana of vital energy in the central sushumna station, allowing the kundalini to rise, thus gaining moksha, freedom [9]. The purpose of performing these actions is to create harmony between the vast flow of pranic energy, Ida and Pingala, thus achieving physical and mental purity and balance. These practices are also used before pranayama and other advanced yoga practices to cleanse the body of toxins. Shatkarmas are made to promote the health of yogis, directing energy to the body and deep mind [10]. Swami Swatmarama, the author of Hatha Yoga, HYP’s ancient writings have determined the shatkarma practice of only these people:

People with excess fat or mucus accumulate in the body, where there is inequality, it comes with doshas. Apart from this, the sequence of each shatkarma practice in HYP is mentioned in this verse:

Dhautirbastistathā netistrātakam naulikam tathā

Kapālabhātiśchaitāni shatkarmāni prachakshate—HYP 2.23

Meaning — Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli, and Kapalabhati are called shatkarma.

Sage Gheranda is another prominent author of Hath Yoga teaching who emphasized the practice of shatkarma in the first phase of yoga.

Yoga Sage Gheranda is also distributed as Ghatastha Yoga with seven limbs, unlike the yoga with eight limbs [11] from the Yoga Sutra [12]. The seven parts mentioned in the Gheranda Samhita are as follows: according to Sage Gheranda, our body and mind are like a ship (a compound called Ghata) that carries our soul and our gunas [13] signals like water inside a ship.

Ghatastha Yoga for the first time aims to cleanse the body or vessel that carries the soul, using six cleansing methods containing shatkarma.

Therefore, the practice of shatkarma is important for everyone who should start a yoga journey according to Gheranda Samhita.

Gheranda Samhita is a step-by-step guide on the subject of yoga taught by expert Gheranda [14]. Unlike other hatha yoga texts, the Gheranda Samhita mentions yoga in seven stages [15, 16],

  • Shatkarma for cleansing the body

  • Asana for fitness

  • Mudra for strengthening the body

  • Pratyahara dementia

  • Pranayama indoor light

  • Dhyana from an internal perspective

  • Samadhi

Gheranda, the author of Gherandasamhita, has even reached the point of declaring the practice of purification procedures as a form of Nadi shodhana (Gh. S. V/36, 37). He called it the process of “nirmanu Nadishodhana.” However, from an analytical point of view, all yoga practices are a form of purification in some way as it contains the concept of purification [17].

“Dhautir-vastis-tatha netir, tratakam, Naulikam tatha;

Kapal-bhatis-c-aitani, Sat-karmani samacaret !!

(Sloka 12- Gheranda-Samhita, Part 1) [18].

The body is cleansed with the help of the following six procedures:

(1) Dhouti, (2) Basti, (3) Neti, (4) Loukiki (nauli), (5) Trataka, and (6) Kapal bhati.

These shatkarma that make body cleansing have several effects, are amazing, and highly regarded by the prominent yogis [18].


The purpose of shatkarma is to:

  • Bring balance to tri-dosh vata, pitta, and kapha

  • Bring balance to mind and body processes.

  • Balance pranic flow through Ida and Pingala Nadi. From there to encourage the flow of Sushumna Nadi.

  • To remove toxins from our bodies.

  • To cleanse our body internally and keep the body healthy.

  • Empowering our internal systems such as blood circulation, digestion, respiratory system, and defense.

Shatkarma (cleansing procedures in yoga) and panchakarma (Ayurveda)

We have therefore seen that yogic cleansing procedures work physically at a deeper level but at the same time, we must remember that cleansing procedures have spiritual benefits, in addition to the above, both physical and mental.

As mentioned, the yogic value of cleansing procedures is reduced compared to that of panchakarma [17]. These panchakarmas according to Aurveda are:

  • Vamana

  • Virechana

  • Basti

  • Nasya

  • Raktamokshana

In these five karmas, we have some of the most widely used names in panchakarma and shatkarma (six purification procedures). But we must not forget that these practices are available in two different categories. One associates with the system of treatment (Ayurveda) and another system of Freedom or Samadhi. A comparative difference in their use and approach is therefore presented here. His views on panchakarma and shatkarma are discussed in Table 1.

Table 1 Points of difference in shatkarma and panchakarma


Common sense does not support the notion that life exists when there is a balance between basic body jokes or a dosha called vata, pitta, and kapha.

Vata is the air system needed to integrate the functioning of the nervous system. Pitta is a fire system that uses bile to regulate the process of digestion and therefore the body gets fuel from the venous system. Kapha is a water system that deals with nutrients, digestion, and nutrients that carry to the vascular system.

Dosha is a word derived from the root dus, which is equivalent to the original English word “dys,” such as dysfunction and dystrophy. In this sense, dosha can be considered a mistake or a violation of a cosmic rhythm. Doshas are always looking for a solid balance, one by one. Dosha needs to make life possible. In Ayurveda, dosha is also known as the supreme monarchy as all living things in nature are represented by dosha [18, 19].

Everyone is different and, in the same way, our bodies contain different energies. Ayurveda shows that the road to good health is different for different people, depending on their physical condition. Tridosa is the science of understanding the nature of our body or the power developed by balancing the doshas [20].

Tridosha is made up of 5 elements (mahabhutas) air, ether, fire, water, and earth. Each body is made up of these five elements. When inequality occurs, it means the domination of any other doshas [21]. Table 2 shows the relationship among tridoshas, five elements, and trigunas.

Table 2 The relationship among tridoshas, five elements, and trigunas [22]

Vata—the dos catabolic [23,24,25]

This dosha is made up of a mixture of air and space. Dosha controls the glide of neural dreams. Additionally, vata did an excellent task of controlling the alternative doshas. Dosha’s first awareness is usually to maintain balance among all three aspects. Similarly, vata dosha has five sub-doshas, such as:

  • Prana vata is placed within the head and controls the nerves.

  • Vyana vata controls all physical features and is positioned within the heart.

  • Udana vata is located within the chest location and controls the vocal and cognitive capabilities.

  • Samana vata is present within the stomach and regulates digestive strategies.

  • Apana vata controls all urination through the urinary tract and is positioned in the anus vicinity.

Pitta—metabolic dosha [23,24,25]

Shaped with the aid of a combination of earth and water, pitta dosha controls all of the methods involved in body composition and intellectual and bodily adjustments. Dosha’s primary activities consist of digestion and persevering for the need of the body. Pitta dosha is further divided into five sub-doshas, such as:

  • Ranjak pitta produces rakta or blood and is located inside the stomach.

  • Bhrajak pitta controls skin color and is found on the skin.

  • Aalochak pitta is visually impaired and controls imagination and prescient.

  • Sadhak pitta is present inside the coronary heart and controls the intellectual capability of the body.

  • Pachak pitta regulates digestive characteristics and is discovered within the duodenum part of the small intestine.

Kapha-anabolic dosha [23,24,25]

Soil and water collectively make kapha, an anabolic dosha. Kapha dosha’s most critical characteristic is to offer mental and bodily energy. Dosha additionally controls the amount of water within the body and replenishes those elements up to the cellular level. Dosha additionally performs a critical position on the psychological degree while it is linked to feelings such as jealousy and love. Kapha is divided into five sub-categories:

  • Kledak kapha is located within the belly and is used for digestion.

  • Shleshak kapha is found in all body components and controls the flexion of the joints.

  • Bodhak kapha is placed within the flavor bud and acts further.

  • Tarpak kapha is found in the head and controls intelligence.

  • Avalambak kapha is present inside the chest and lubricates the coronary heart and throat.


The tonicity can be of three types: hypotonic, hypertonic, and isotonic. Hypertonic means less proportion of solutes inside the solvent, the hypertonic answer has extra, and the isotonic answer has the specified share of solutes within the solution [26, 27].

On occasion, we drink hypotonic solution for the duration of the practice of kriya, which reasons exosmosis and results in shrinking of the organic membrane, whereas hypertonic solution reasons endosmosis [26] and consequences in bulging out of the cells. In both cases, there are expected cell accidents.

However, every time importance may be given for isotonic solution throughout the cellular membrane, and whilst the solution moves inside the gut, the impact is 0 water drift among the two cases, i.e., answer in the intestine and in cellular, despite the fact that water is transferring both approaches. In biology, some cells should be maintained in an isotonic way to support cell features, therefore, the isotonic answer is constantly advised for the duration of the practice ensuring most cleansing within the meals pipe and produces flushing effect for higher cleansing [25]. The shatkarma or six cleansing technique is shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Shatkarma (cleansing technique) [9, 28]

Neti—cleaning of nasal passages

Neti (Sanskrit: नेती neti) is an essential part of shatkarma (every so often known as shatkriya), the yogic way of body cleaning techniques. It can have standard procedures, regardless of religion. It is intended specially to clean the air passageways inside the head. Both the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other resources [29, 30] typically describe Neti. It affects physiologically and spiritually one’s body, mind, and personality [30, 31]. The 2 foremost variants are jala neti (जलनेति), the usage of water, and the greater advanced sutra neti (सूत्रनेति), the use of string (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2
figure 2

Jala neti and sutra neti [32, 33]

The practice of Neti is similarly divided into 4, Jala (water), Sutra (catheter), Dugdha (milk), and Ghrita (ghee). Besides sutra neti, the last 3 neti practices require a neti pot, and sutra neti requires a cotton thread immersed in wax or ghee [31, 34].

Jala neti

For this approach, sterilized and lukewarm isotonic salt water is poured into one nose, in order that it leaves through the alternative. The manner is then repeated on the other side, and the nostril is dried by using bending ahead and with the aid of speedy respiratory. It is also possible to sniff the water in order that it runs into the mouth and to spit it out. In a superior reverse version, the water is taken in through the mouth and snorted out of the nostril [31, 34].

Sutra neti

Sutra neti is a sophisticated shape of yogic nasal cleaning and requires an experienced instructor. Sensations of gagging, nausea, and weak spot may additionally arise. In case of continual blockage after jala neti, sutra neti should simply be completed after a scientific session.

Sutra means thread, and neti or niti refers to a prescribed system or process. This is defined as “yoga for cleaning your sinuses” and is ideal to alleviate a blocked nostril, ease headache, sinusitis, and so on. Sutra Neti requires the insertion of a thread or a special type of rubber tube into the nose in a way that it comes out of the mouth. This thread then dislodges mucous and particles and facilitates clear nasal passages. It is also noted that while moving common nasal passages, the string can remove nasal polyps with the aid of this approach. It is advised that this kriya be practiced early morning approximately the identical time as one brushes their teeth. It is used to clean the nose and additionally to put off nasal polyps [31, 34].

Physiological effects

In Sanskrit, the proper meaning of Neti is not always found but for our understanding [35], Neti is all approximately the cleaning of the nasal cavity.

All four practices of Neti help in cleansing the nasal cavity and therefore ensure the cleansing of the frontal, ethmoid, maxillary, and sphenoid sinuses. The sinuses are porous in nature and they preserve the air in them; however, retention of water within the sinuses causes many headaches inclusive of sinusitis [36, 37].

Neti kriya benefits

  • Immediately alleviation from breathing issues like sinusitis, hypersensitive reaction, asthma, and hay fever.

  • Neti helps to recover the body’s natural mechanisms towards respiratory problems which include sore throats, coughs, and postnasal drips.

  • It cures issues related to the eyes and ears consisting of sure sorts of deafness, tinnitus, and myopia.

  • In case you exercise superior degrees of neti, it works wonders for throat infections. It enables to establish the body’s natural mechanisms towards breathing problems consisting of sore throats and coughs.

  • It stimulates higher powers of visualization and attention and gives a feeling of mindful thoughts.

  • It has a soothing effect on the brain, so it offers remedies from headaches, migraine, depression, intellectual tensions or even epilepsy, hysteria, and so on.

  • It is very powerful for meditation as it is related to the olfactory bulb and Ajna Chakra in yoga.

  • It helps to quit smoking; it reduces mouth respiration and re-sensitizes the nostril to the indecency and discomfort of consuming smoke and, additionally, remedies snoaring at some point of sleep [32, 33, 37, 38]


Dhauti is one of the shatkarmas (or shatkriyas), it is mainly related with the cleaning of the digestive tract but it affects also the breathing tract, outside ears, and eyes.

In the eighteenth century, according to Gheranda Samhita, it is divided into four parts: Antara (internal) Dhauti, Danta (teeth) Dhauti, Hrida (cardiac or chest location) Dhauti, and Mula Shodhana (rectal cleansing) [39,40,41,42,43].

Antar (internal) dhauti [43, 44]

Vatsara dhauti/Bahiskrut is an advanced technique, swallowing air into the stomach and increases the gastric fire.

Varisara dhauti (aka shankhaprakshalana), evacuating a huge quantity of water thru the bowels. It may be in addition subdivided into laghoo shankhaprakshalana, a quick form in which simplest six glasses of warm saline water are taken and expelled, and poorna shankhaprakshalana, the full shape in which sixteen glasses are taken and expelled.

Vahnisara dhauti (aka agnisara kriya), swiftly breathing in and out whilst simultaneously increasing and contracting the abdomen improves agni/fire that is dormant and it sensitizes the digestive stimulation.

Danta (tooth) dhauti [44,45,46]

Danta mula is the cleaning of teeth by way of usual methods.

  • Jihva mula, cleansing the tongue,

  • Kapalrandhra, cleaning the forehead, nasal polyps.

  • Karna dhauti, cleansing the ears which improves the energy of the auditory canal.

Hrid (stomach and lungs region) dhauti [44,45,46]

  • Vaman dhauti/gajakarni(aka vyaghra kriya), earlier, it is known as kunjal kriya, on an empty stomach drinking a maximum quantity of water and vomits. Plesum, sputum, pores and skin, and spleen, nearly 20 varieties get cured with the aid of this dhouti (Fig. 4). Vaman dhauti involves drinking of luke isotonic solution and vomiting them out which ensures fitness functions of the upper part of the track. The practice enables commencing up the sphincter, inhibiting the extra gastric secretions, encouraging peristalsis, and many others. Most of these capabilities of the digestive tract are accomplished due to the activation of the vagus nerve [39, 40].

  • Danda dhauti, cleansing the esophagus from the throat to the stomach, with the help of putting a particularly organized turmeric or cane stick. Now a day’s rubber tube is used, Swami Kuvalyanand has invented this tube for a hygiene point of view. This tube is inserted in the stomach after consumption of water, water begins coming from the stomach, and a vacuum is created which is termed as Swami Madhav das vacuum [39, 40].

  • Vastra dhauti, cleaning the belly via swallowing an extended skinny strip of moist cloth which is 4 inches wide and 22 ft in length. Sit in kagasana position and swallowing the cloth gently and pass it into the stomach. For practicing, it needs 20 min of duration, the pyloric wall in the duodenum opens and closes so the material does not save inside the belly for an extended time. While disposing of the cloth, take it out very lightly drink water if required and do it in a relaxed shape (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3
figure 3

Vaman Dhauti and Bastra Dhauti [44, 45]

Benefit [45, 47]

  1. 1.

    Elimination of excess slime from respiratory tracts (catarrhal diseases at completion stages, bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, allergic reactions, [42,43,44]).

  2. 2.

    Stimulation of work of the stomach and intestines. Stimulate the secretion of gastric juice and enzymes of the pancreas (at the insufficient activity of digestion).

  3. 3.

    Activity regulation of the biliary system, gall bladder, and pancreas (dyskinesia of bile duct, hypofunction of a gall bladder).

Moola shodhana [48]

It is better to practice in the morning, on an empty stomach. It can be practiced in a particulate time with an empty stomach once a month or daily courses for getting faster benefits. Hrid dhauti is further categorized into 3 types, vastra (cloth), danda (stick), and vamana (water vomiting). Vastra dhauti involves swallowing a cotton material which facilitates in getting rid of excess phlegm produced by the higher gastrointestinal tract (git). Danda dhauti calls for a banana stem and putting the equal and helps an aspirant to remedy the excess production of the gastric mucosa. Vaman dhauti involves drinking luke isotonic solution and vomiting them out which ensures fitness functions of upper git. The practice enables commencing up the sphincter, inhibiting the extra gastric secretions, encouraging peristalsis, and many others. Most of these capabilities of the git are accomplished due to the activation of the vagus nerve.

At some stage in the practice of moola shodhana, a soft turmeric root is used after pealing out it. This root is used as turmeric has antiseptic assets. This is one of the practices to get rid of the complications such as fistula, piles, and hemorrhoids. This exercise also ensures a healthful rectum, and as a consequence, a small little spread of microorganisms to the gust and other parts of the frame can be prevented.

Basti kriya [49,50,51]

Basti is a crucial shatkarma, a yogic purification, intended to smooth the lower stomach, specifically the colon. The hatha yoga pradipika and other resources used it for many beneficial effects. There are two approaches to perform basti [52]:

  • Sthala basti (aka sushka basti or vata basti), cleans the colon through sucking air within the body without the help of any catheter or tube.

  • Jala basti (aka “vati basti”) cleans the colon through sucking water into the anus via a pipe. The hatha yoga pradipika states that the pipe form of basti destroys swelling of the abdomen and illnesses of the spleen amongst different illnesses.

Technique [53]

  1. 1.

    Sit in a bathtub full of water. The water has to reach up to the navel. Preferably this is performed in a river with a mild go with the flow of water.

  2. 2.

    Bend ahead and positioned the fingers at the knees.

  3. 3.

    One wishes for some exercise. Try and amplify the sphincter muscles of the anus and strive to tug water up into the rectum. This could be tough inside the beginning. Uddhiyana bandha or drawing the belly internally and upwards enables in this procedure. Those who have mastered nauli can also carry out nauli alongside uddiyana bandha to attract the water upwards.

  4. 4.

    Preserve the water within the bowels for a while after which expel it through the anus.

  5. 5.

    Repeat this method, till the bowels are fully smooth.

Due to the fact that this technique can be difficult inside the starting, some practitioners insert a rubber or plastic tube into the anus to make it less difficult.

Basti kriya benefits

  1. 1.

    Replenishes the bowels

  2. 2.

    Therapies digestive disorders

  3. 3.

    Balances the doshas

  4. 4.

    Complements pores and skin tone

  5. 5.

    Stimulates sun plexus

  6. 6.

    Acts as a remedial practice

At some stage in this exercise, a bad stress is advanced within the intra‑abdominal cavity which draws water to the big gut through the anus. In lots of instances, a straw is inserted into the anus for clean pulling of the water. At some point of sthala, alternatively, of water, the air is sucked into the big gut and cleanses the massive gut by producing the nice strain of air in the said parts and expels out the fecal matter by way of pushing the entire amount of air through the anus. Each jala and sthala make certain healthy gut [50,51,52,53]


The meaning of Nauli is abdominal massaging [54, 55]. Thus, the practice involves isolating the rectus abdominis muscles. When we isolate this muscle at the right side is called Dakshina nauli, at the left is Vama, and at the center is called Madhyama. This particular practice strengthens the secretions of gastric juice including the endocrine and exocrine functions of the pancreas. Nauli helps in improving the blood supply to the peripheral part of the stomach as it increases the negative pressure within the abdominal cavity (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4
figure 4

Nauli kriya [56]

Abdominal Massage by means of reduction and isolation of direct muscles of the stomach and the process associated with nauli is agnisara dhauti and the uddiyana bandha.

There are three types of nauli:

  • Madhyama nauli — allocation of a median muscle of a stomach

  • Vama nauli — reduction of the left rectus abdominis muscle (rotation from left to right)

  • Dakshina nauli — reduction of the right rectus abdominis muscle (rotation from right to left)

Benefit [54,55,56]

  1. 1.

    Improvement of venous outflow,

  2. 2.

    Stimulation of a large intestine,

  3. 3.

    Strengthening of respiratory muscles,

  4. 4.

    Stimulation of peripheral blood circulation,

  5. 5.

    Inclusion of the parasympathetic nervous system (calm, relaxation),

  6. 6.

    Lowering of arterial pressure,

  7. 7.

    Improvement of blood circulation in pelvic organs,

  8. 8.

    Stimulation of the endocrine system (hypofunction of the pancreas and liver),

  9. 9.

    Stimulation of systems of allocation, and

  10. 10.

    Bile-expelling effect (dyskinesia of bilious channels, hypofunction of a gall bladder)

Chakra involved in nauli

All yogic kriyas affect chakras in our body in a certain way, Like Kapalbhati kriya is said to key in the awakening of the third eye chakra, which is the door of spiritual awareness of an individual. With the help of nauli kriya, a person can stimulate their Navel Chakra (manipura chakra).

The Manipura chakra is the storehouse of vital life energy present in the human body, i.e., prana. The activation of this chakra helps to get clairvoyance and mindfulness, boosts metabolism, and strengthens the immune system [56].

Kapalbhati [57]

Kapalabhati (Sanskrit: कपालभाति, romanized: kapalabhati), also referred to as breath of hearth, [57] is a vital shatkarma, a purification in hatha yoga. The word kapalabhati is made from Sanskrit words: kapalos angeles meaning “cranium,” and bhati meaning “shining, illuminating.” It is intended specifically for cleaning the sinuses following the path as described with the gheranda samhita [58, 59]. The technique of kapalabhati [59, 60] entails short and robust forceful exhalations and inhalation happens mechanically. There are 3 types of kapalabhati [59]:

  • Vatakrama kapalabhati, an exercise just like the pranayama method of bhastrika, besides that exhalation is lively while inhalation is passive, the opposite of ordinary respiration.

  • Vyutkrama kapalabhati, a practice just like jala neti, involves sniffing water through the nostrils and letting it glide down into the mouth, after which spitting it out.

  • Sheetkrama kapalabhati may be taken into consideration as the opposite of vyutkrama kapalabhati, wherein water is taken through the mouth and expelled through the nostril.

Procedure [59]

Backbone erects, chin parallel to the ground, and place your palms to your knees dealing with downwards. Do normal breathing few rounds and loosen up.

Now inhale and exhale through your nose; the kapalabhati method incorporates short and robust forceful exhalation and inhalation (passive inhalation). Each inhalation and exhalation count should be identical. Make sure your belly and chest region both are stable with no conscious movement.

All 3 types of kapalbhati practices are suitable for activating the frontal lobe that's noted in hatha yoga as kapala. Exercise of kapalbhati causes extra removal of carbon dioxide and builds up oxygen within the peripheral tissue of the brain. More supply of oxygen causes top-rated metabolism in the forebrain which is otherwise referred to as shinning of the brain in colloquial words of hatha yoga.

Benefits of kapalbhati [59,60,61,62]

  • This respiration workout is particularly for cleansing the facial sinuses.

  • Bloodstream and oxygenation of the entire face is improved.

  • Long-time benefits encompass slows down the growing older manner and enables to calm the facial nerves and relaxes the facial muscle mass. Rejuvenates tired cells, helping in lowering wrinkles and different symptoms of getting older.

  • A healthy natural skin glow of the face is seen in case you practice often.

  • Reduces sinusitis and migraine assault frequency.

  • Serves as a therapeutic tool to remedy anemia

  • Cleanses the eyes ducts and imaginative and prescient is stepped forward

  • The experience of odor is progressed and aids digestion.

  • The lymphatic system and thyroid functions are benefitted.


The phrase trataka is coined from the text of Sanskrit (त्राटक). This means that gaze, or to look, or set your gaze to a selected item (like a candle, black dot, sky, moon). The importance of fixed staring at (trataka) is mentioned within the hatha yoga as well as in gherand samhita. Generally, trataka is easy to do however very effective approach and is one of the six cleansing practices (shatkarma -cleansing method). Trataka is a method of hatha yoga in which you need to restore your eyes to a specific point, item, or on a flame of a candle. In easy words, yogic gazing is a special type of meditation in yoga by means of which you may enhance your awareness. It gives the electricity of self-actualization, increases your spirituality stage, and gives you the feeling of tranquility [62,63,64,65,66] (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5
figure 5

Trataka practice [65]

Meditation is categorized into two elements [25]:

  1. 1.

    Bahiranga trataka (outer gazing)

  2. 2.

    Antranga trataka (inward observing).

Watching a candle flame is the maximum not unusual manner of trataka. In a simple shape of constant observing, there is one essential point, that in this, you should now not blink your eyes at some point of the practice.

  • Outer gazing (bahiranga trataka)

In this yogic looking at the technique, you need to focus on an outer item, which means the one’s object, who are a gift and without problems seen by our eyes. Gazing at a sky, flame of a candle, a selected photograph, or a point coming below the outer watching method. The main thing is that you do not need to shut your eyes. You need to set your eyes on a specific item or on a factor.

  • Inward gazing (antranga trataka)

Inward gazing is totally opposite to outer observing. Or one may additionally say that it is the superior level of trataka. As soon as a learner is secure with the primary one then he/she go for inward observing. In this approach of trataka, you need to focus inwardly method set your attention on anybody’s chakra. Third eye or ajna chakra is first-class for focusing.

Trataka is totally based on scientific fact. The movement of our eyeballs reflects our thinking process. While practicing Trataka, one has to focus on a particular object. Due to focusing on a specific object, random thoughts are very less or vanished out and our eyeballs become steadier. There is a unique connection between the movement of the eyeball and in our mental state. One can easily see this on an EEG machine. During the practice of fixed gazing (trataka), you have to forcefully set your eyes on a specific object or point by doing this you can get a steady focused mind. Throughout the process, your random or negative thoughts have become less and your unstable mind is under control.

Benefits of Trataka [65, 66]

  • A splendid method to prepare yourself for a meditation with a mantra. Boosts your intelligence, attention, and memory also.

  • Trataka is a very powerful in addition to a powerful approach to increase imagination and prescient and eyesight. It corrects all of the troubles associated with the eyes.

  • Strength of mind and self-confidence is the maximum important aspect within the person, and trataka improves self-control and self-confidence.

  • Trataka is a nice technique for anger control. Soothes your thoughts and offers silence and inner peace.

  • Yogic observing is nice for insomnia, headache, and remedies sleep-associated disorder.

  • Yogic looking at relaxed thoughts create an excellent productiveness and efficiency at paintings.

  • Growth and makes you good at choice-making by giving clarity in your mind.

  • Trataka overcomes your emotional and behavioral issues and helps you to overcome your mental problems.

  • By yogic observing you sense stress-unfastened and relaxed all day.


Yoga is believed to increase the neurotransmitter dopamine (natural anti-depressant) and strengthen your nervous system. A strong mind-body connection, a healthy body, and focusing inward can help towards greater happiness. Most yoga practitioners report a huge reduction in the amount of hostility they feel as well as a sense of control when anger flares, stress reduction, moving tension out the body, de-stressing, meditating and breathing control reduce stress considerably. The concentration required during yoga focuses your attention on the now. It helps take you away from your problems. In most exercises, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in giving you that fight-or-flight sensation. Yoga does the opposite and stimulates the parasympathetic system, also known as the “relaxing system”, this helps lower blood pressure and slows the pace of your breathing which helps relaxation and healing.

To purify their inner body organs from time to time so as to make sure the proper working of yogic practices on the body. Shatkarma removes impurities of the internal body, organs which got accumulated by regular intake of external matter through different sensory organs. To make sure the proper flow of Prana (life force) shatkarma ensures there is not any physical/mental knot present in nadis. The present article discussed in detail the various aspects of cleaning techniques (shatkarma) and their implication of disease-free life.

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.


  1. Biodiversity and Health. 2015, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  2. Igweolisa Sunday Nebeolisa-Igwe. The Purification Theory. 2020 Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  3. Cleaning technicians in Hatha yoga. Shatkarma. 2016, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  4. Swathi P.S, Raghavendra BR and Saoji AA, 2020, Health and therapeutic benefits of Shatkarma: a narrative review of scientific studies, J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2021,

  5. These techniques and their practice are outlined in considerable detail by Swami Rama in his two volume set: Rama, Swami. (1988). Path of Fire and Light, Volume I: Advanced Practices of Yoga; Volume II: A Practical Companion to Volume I. Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Himalayan Institute Press.

  6. Mallinson J, Singleton M. (2017). Roots of Yoga. Penguin Books. pp. xxviii–xxxii, 46, 49–50, 71–79. ISBN 978–0–241–25304–5. OCLC 928480104.

  7. Shatkarmas - Cleansing Techniques, in Yoga Magazine, a publication of Bihar School of Yoga, 1991.

  8. Muktibodhananda S. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. New Delhi India: Thomson Press India, for The Yoga Publications Trust; 1985.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Yoga Swami Svatmarama. Hatha yoga pradipika, The Aquarian Press 1992, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  10. Shatkarma: 6 Hatha Yoga Kriyas for Purification and Their Benefits, 2021, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  11. Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga: A Detailed Explanation, 2019. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  12. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2022, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  13. Murthy Pannaga K. and Kiran Kumar SK, 2007, Concept triguna: a critical analysis and synthesis, Psychological Studies, 52, No. 2.

  14. Rosen SJ 2011, Food for the Soul: Vegetarianism and Yoga Traditions. ABC-CLIO. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978–0–313–39704–2.

  15. Mallinson J 2004, The Gheranda Samhita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Yoga Vidya. pp. ix–xvii, 1–2, 16–18, 60–61, 86–91, 113–116, 119–123. ISBN 978–0–9716466–3–6.

  16. Stephens M 2011, Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques. North Atlantic. pp. 17–20.

  17. Sahay GS, Cleansing Processes Hathayogapradipika and Gheranda Samhita - Part 1,2017 Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  18. Hankey A. Establishing the Scientific Validity of Tridosha. Ancient Sci Life. 2010, 29(No.3):6 -18.

  19. Savita and Ashok Kumar Sharma. Concept of tridosha theory: a critical review. Int J Creative Res Thoughts. 2021; 9(Issue 1).

  20. Jaiswal YS, Williams LL. A glimpse of Ayurveda - the forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine. J Trad Complement Med. 2017;7:50–3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Vandana V, Agrawal S, Gehlot S. Possible measures to assess functional states of tridosha: a critical review.  Int J Health Sci Res. 2018; 8 (1):219.

  22. Singh R.H. 2014, The basic tenets of Ayurvedic dietetics and nutrition. In: Rastogi, S. (eds) Ayurvedic Science of Food and Nutrition. Springer, New York, NY.; Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  23. Heinrich M, Barnes J, Gibbons S, Williamson E. Churchill Livingstone; Edinburgh: 2004. Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy,.

  24. Pooja K, 2020, A glimpse of Ayurveda – The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  25. Patra SK. Physiological effect of Kriyas: Cleansing techniques. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol. 2017;5:3–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kramer EM, Myers DR. Five Popular Misconceptions about osmosis. Am J Phys. 2012;80(8):694–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Hall JE, Guyton AC. Text Book of Medical Physiology. 13th ed. California, USA: Saunders Publisher; 2015.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Shatkarma – 6 Yoga Cleansing Techniques & Their Benefits, 2020, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  29. Mallinson J. The Gheranda Samhita: The original Sanskrit and an English transalation. 1st ed. Woodstock, NY; 2004. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  30. Naragatti S and Vadraj HS, Neti K. Enhances the nasal functions. J Curr Med Res Opin. 2022; 05(08): 1281–1283.

  31. Abhiswashan Bhap A, Jal Neti and Bhastrika Beyond Nasal Cleaning in COVID 19, Era, ACTA SCIENTIFIC Otolaryngology. 2020; 2 Issue 9.

  32. Sutra Neti – What is it and What are the Benefits? February 10, 2017 by yogacentral,

  33. Yoga’s Jal Neti may help you fight the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, 2021, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  34. Taspinar B, Aslan UB, Agbuga B, Taspinar F. A comparison of the effects of hatha yoga and resistance exercise on mental health and well-being in sedentary adults: a pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(3):433–40.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. The Jala neti booklet, 2014,

  36. Muktiboshananda S. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. 3rd ed. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publication Trust; 1998.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Meera S, Rani MM, Sreedhar C, Robin DT. A review on the therapeutic effects of Neti Kriya with special reference to Jala Neti. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2018. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Swathi PS, Raghavendra BR, Saoji AA. Health and therapeutic benefits of Shatkarma: a narrative review of scientific studies. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine. 2021.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  39. Priyanka S. Dhauti: internal cleansing, Eur J Biomed Pharm Sci. 2023;2(5):1443522810.

  40. Dixit, Sandya (3 January 2016)."Demonstration on "Pranayam and Shuddhi Kriyas""(PDF). International Conference on Advances in Asian Medicine.

  41. Halmare Gayatri K and Patrikar VG. Effect of Jal Dhauti on Sthaulya W.S.R. To obesity: a Syst Rev.  World JPharm Res. 2020; 9(1).

  42. Yaami Antar, August 19, 2019, Dhauti: Cleanses Your Energy System, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  43. Mallinson J, Singleton M.  Roots of Yoga. Penguin Books. 2017. ISBN 978–0- 241–25304–5. OCLC 928480104.

  44. Ashish, Basti Kriya (Yogic Enema): Cleansing of Intestines, December 23, 2020, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  45. Rawat N, Roushan R. A critical appraisal on the mechanism of action of basti procedure of ayurveda in perspective of modern physiology. Int J Res Ayurveda Pharm. 2020;11:154–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Saraswati SS. A systematic course in the ancient tantric techniques of yoga and Kriya. 5th ed. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publication Trust; 2016.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Jayantkumar SD, Mordhara JR. A literary review of Nauli Kriya one of hathyogic practices in the light of Ayurvedic Dosha Sharir and contemporary anatomy. Int  Ayurvedic Med J. 2022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Anon (Gaia Staff) (13 December 2013). "5 Reasons to Practice Breath of Fire Yoga". Gaia. Retrieved 14 May 2019. Kapalabhati Pranayama or “Cleaning Breath” is an intermediate to advanced pranayama that consists of short, powerful exhales and passive inhales. This practice is also known as the “Breath of Fire.”.

  49. Kapalbhati - Frontal Brain Purification, 1991, in Yoga Magazine, a publication of Bihar School of Yoga.

  50. "Skull Shining Breath - Kapalabhati Benefits | Beginners Tips & Variations". Yoga Vini. 2016–07–21. Retrieved 2020–04–03.

  51. Niranjan S. Dhauti – Yogic Internal Cleansing, 2023 Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  52. Nauli Kriya – The correct method, precautions, benefits, spiritual curiosity a guide for your inner journey,2022, ttps://

  53. Benefits of Nauli Yoga And Ways To Practice It. 2017,

  54. YS Raghuram, 2017, Nauli karma: Right method of Doing, Types, Benefits, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  55. Nauli Kriya: How to Do, Precautions & Benefits, Chandra Rishita, 2019, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  56. Watts M. Reviewed by Sandeep Solanki, Kapalabhati (Breath of Fire) How to Do, Benefits and Precautions. 2022. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  57. Anon (Gaia Staff) (13 December 2013)."5 Reasons to Practice Breath of Fire Yoga". Gaia. Retrieved 14 May 2019. Kapalabhati Pranayama or “Cleaning Breath” is an intermediate to advanced pranayama that consists of short, powerful exhales and passive inhales. This practice is also known as the “Breath of Fire.”.

  58. Sankhe A. Benefits of Kapalbhati and How to Do It. 2022. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  59. Sivasubramaniam T, Kapalbhati P. Steps, Types, Benefits, Precautions. 2021 Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  60. "Skull Shining Breath - Kapalabhati Benefits | Beginners Tips & Variations". Yoga Vini. 2016–07–21. Retrieved 2020–04–03.

  61. Watts M. Reviewed by Sandeep Solanki, Kapalabhati (Breath of Fire) How to Do, Benefits and Precautions. 2022. Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  62. Svatmarama S. Hatha yoga pradipika, The Aquarian Press 1992, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  63. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. New Delhi: Sri Satguru publications; 2014, Available from: Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  64. Hawkins A. “How to improve concentration by Trataka (Yogic Gazing)”. 2019; Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  65. Sivasubramaniam Thirunavukkarasu, 2022, Tratak Kriya Types, Steps, Benefits, Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

  66. Writer SC.  Trataka Kriya – Benefits, Techniques & Precautions. 2021 Accessed 3 Mar 2020.

Download references


Not applicable.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



The author read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kishore Mukhopadhyay.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent of publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mukhopadhyay, K. Shatkarma (six inner body cleansing techniques): a way of disease-free life. Bull Fac Phys Ther 28, 22 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: