Yogic Cleansing 

Shatkarmas or Kriyas are purification techniques used to  attain physical and mental purification and balance.  We already covered the practices of Jala Neti and Trataka in May’s Ashi box, so this post aims to provide more information on the other shatkarmas for those that are interested. I’ve adapted the information from Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. These practices can be quite strong and should only be done with the guidance of a teacher (please note the disclaimer at the bottom of the page). This post is not comprehensive and doesn’t include instructions to practice these shatkarmas, but rather describes what the practices involve. These techniques are commonly practiced in India and a student in an Indian yoga program would likely practice most of these techniques. 

There are 6 standard Shatkarmas, or purification practices. They are as follows: Neti (Cleansing and purifying the nasal passages using Jala Neti and Sutra Neti); Dhauti (Internal cleansing); Nauli (Massaging and strengthening the abdominal organs); Basti (Washing and toning the large intestine); Kapalbhati (Breathing technique for purifying the frontal region of the brain); and Trataka (Intense gazing at one point to develop the power of concentration).

Neti: There are two neti practices, the jala neti, which we already covered, and the sutra neti. The sutra neti involves passing a length of cotton thread or a thin rubber catheter through the nose and pulling it out through the mouth, then gently pulling it backwards and forwards. This practice helps remove mucus and pollution from the nasal passages and sinuses, allowing air to flow without obstruction. It also helps prevent and manage respiratory tract diseases.

Dhauti: There are a few different methods, but the basic practice involves drinking warm salt water followed by a specific set of asanas in order to clear out the bowels. The body should be prepared beforehand,  and a specific diet should be followed after the practice. An entire day should be set aside for this practice, as well as the preparation time the night before, and a special diet should also be followed for at least a month after performing this kriya. The second method involves quickly drinking a number of glasses of warm salt water to induce vomiting. These practices can alleviate digestive problems and tone the digestive organ; strengthen the immune system, reduce excessive mucus and purify the blood. These techniques also help to release pent-up emotions and emotional blocks or feelings of heaviness in the heart. Additionally, it recharges the entire pranic body.

Nauli: Nauli is abdominal massaging using the bandhas to contract the abdominal muscles. As the practitioner becomes more advanced in the practice they are able to isolate and contract the central section, the left section, the right section, and then perform abdominal rotation or churning. This practice massages and tones the entire abdominal area, including the muscles, nerves, intestines, reproductive, urinary, and excretory organs. It stimulates appetite, digestion, assimilation, absorption and excretion. This is a strong practice and is not suitable for everyone, and should only be done under the guidance of a qualified teacher.   

Basti: Basti is a yogic enema, and can be done either by drawing water into the bowels and then expelling it, or by sucking air into the bowels and then expelling it. The benefit of this practice is cleansing and purifying the colon.   

Kapalbhati: This is a pranayama technique to cleanse the front of the brain. To practice, sit in a comfortable meditation position. Keep the head and spine straight with the hands resting on the knees. Close the eyes and relax. Exhale rapidly through both nostrils with a forceful contraction of the abdominal muscles. The following inhalation should take place passively by allowing the abdominal muscles to relax. Inhalation should be a spontaneous recoil, involving no effort. After completing 10 rapid breaths in succession, inhale and exhale deeply. Allow the breath to return to normal. This is one round, practice up to 5 rounds. The breathing should be from the abdomen, the shoulders and face remain relaxed. This should be practiced on an empty stomach and not before sleep. Don’t practice if you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, stroke, hernia or gastric ulcer. It’s not recommended during pregnancy. Kapalbhati cleanses the lungs and is a good practice for respiratory disorders. It balances and strengthens the nervous system and tones the digestive organs. It energizes the mind for mental work and removes sleepiness.

There are two additional Kapalbhati techniques, which utilize either sniffing salt water through the nose and expelling it through the mouth to cleanse the sinuses or taking a mouthful of salt water and instead of swallowing it, pushing it up and expelling it through the nose for mucus cleansing. Before practicing either of these last two techniques, one should be proficient at Jala Neti.  

Trataka: We covered this intense gazing practice in the May Ashi Box.  

DISCLAIMER: Please check with your health care professional before starting any exercise or yoga program. The information provided within is intended to be used under professional instruction and guidance. It is not a substitute for medical care and attention. Please use common sense and walk the middle path as you develop your spiritual practice. We are not responsible for the consequences of the exercises and practices. The same applies to all the other material provided here, it is provided as is with no warranties or guarantees. We are not responsible for, and will not compensate in any way, for loss or damage related directly or indirectly to the information in these documents or the contents of the boxes. 


December Theme Reveal – Relax and Restore

The holidays can often be stressful times, so this box was designed to help you relax and destress during the holidays. It also includes restorative yoga poses to ease you into relaxationville. This box can easily be given as a gift either by signing up for a subscription or through the shop as a single box. Join Ashi Box by 5:00pm Mountain Time on December 15th in order to receive this unique Ashi Box. All boxes will be shipped on December 19th, so sign up now! If you have any questions, please contact us at info@ashibox.com.

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November Theme Reveal – Sacred Symbolism

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This month we’ll explore some of the sacred symbols that are related to the yoga tradition, as well as others that aren’t, but are often seen used in western yoga paraphernalia. Join Ashi Box by 5:00pm Mountain Time on November 15th in order to receive this unique Ashi Box. All boxes will be shipped on November 18th, so sign up now! If you have any questions, please contact us at info@ashibox.com.

Root Down Ashi Box Unboxing

The root chakra is the red energy center located at the base of the spine. It’s referred to as Muladhara in Sanskrit and is the first chakra. Muladhara is our root chakra, and affects our right to be here, our security, and our connection with our physical body. The root chakra is associated with the earth and fall is a great time to work on balancing and healing this energy center. The changing weather and colors, in conjunction with the fall harvest provide an example of the importance of grounding, creating deep roots, and our connection to mother earth as a source of strength. Learn more with the Root Down Ashi Box, which includes the following items:

Tucketts Yoga Socks – Tucketts are the perfect accessory to keep you warm and grounded in the cooler temperatures. With the non-slip sole and free toes you are set for all the grounding yoga poses you’ll be doing this fall.

Black Tourmaline Black tourmaline serves to protect, ground, and transform negative energy. To cleanse it run it under cold water, place it in the sun for an hour, or leave it out under the full moon. Once it’s clean you’ll want to charge it with your intention. One way to do this is to hold it in your hand, picture light around it, and say, “I dedicate this crystal to the highest good of all, may it be used in light and love. I program this crystal for ____.” Then place it in your sacred space, carry it with you, or keep it near your computer or other electronics where it will absorb electromagnetic energy. Clean it again when it begins to look dull.

Turmeric and Sandalwood Face Pack – Turmeric, which is a root spice, combined with the earthy scent of sandalwood create the perfect grounding combination found in this face pack. Mix with water or milk and apply to the face to increase suppleness and blood circulation, and bring out that healthy fall glow!

Ganesh Magnet – Ganesh is the God governing the root chakra. He is the remover of all obstacles and the one worshipped at the beginning of any new endeavor. With his elephant head and human body, he provides us with an example of being grounded, happy, and connected to our physical body.

Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips – Nourishing yourself is one of the most grounding things you can do, and root vegetables are the perfect food to eat this time of year. Indulge with these sweet potato chips made with coconut oil and a hint of sea salt.

Brass Diya (Deepak) and Wicks – Lighting a candle or being around a fire is a great cleansing, purifying and grounding activity. And with Diwali, the festival of lights, being celebrated October 30th we had to include a traditional Indian lamp. To light it, fill the diya with coconut or mustard oil and soak the entire wick in the oil. Bring just the tip out, light it and let it burn.

Root Chakra Roll-On – Balance your root chakra with this grounding blend of vetiver and bergamot essential oils in coconut oil. Apply generously!

 

Happy Dussehra!

dussehraToday is Dussehra! Also known as Vijayadashmi, today marks the end of Navratri and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The major victory celebrated today is that of Rama over Ravana, but we also celebrate the victory of Durga over Mahishasura, as well as all of our own personal victories. Everyday of Navratri we took a few minutes to be silent, to give thanks, and to see that all of the blessings and gifts given by the goddesses actually already reside within us. We are the goddess (you too, gentlemen!) and all of her many faces. We are good. We are strength & courage. We are knowledge and wisdom. We are beauty, creativity & abundance. We light up the world with our smiles!

This morning I heard a really cool interpretation of the Ramayana – the story of Rama’s victory over Ravana. In case you aren’t familiar with the story – here’s my one sentence version: Ravana kidnaps Sita (Rama’s wife); Rama and Lakshman (Rama’s brother) go to save her; Hanuman (monkey god and devotee of Rama) makes the great leap between India and Lanka to find Sita; a battle begins; Lakshman gets hit by a poisonous arrow; Hanuman makes another great leap to the Himalayas to get the medicinal plant to save Lakshman; Rama has a great battle with Ravana and wins.

The interpretation then is that Rama represents the soul, Sita represents the heart, and Ravana represents the mind that kidnaps the heart from the soul. Lakshman represents consciousness, which is always active on your behalf. And Hanuman represents the intuition and courage that help retrieve the heart to reanimate the soul. This is why we practice, this is why we meditate or do yoga or write or exercise or do that thing that reconnects our hearts and souls, and quiets the mind if even for a short time. We have all the tools to live happier, more peaceful, and engaged lives, and the celebration of Navratri and Dussehra is all about connecting to that power and grace which we already possess.

Jai Shri Ram! Jai Mata Di!

October 11th – Pink is worn

Navratri Day 9 – Siddhidatri

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Siddhidatri

On the 9th and final day of Navratri we celebrate the form of Durga as Siddhidatri. Siddhi means supernatural power and Datri means giver, so she’s the supreme goddess who fulfills all divine aspirations and provides knowledge to her devotees. Siddhidatri is seated on a lotus and is surrounded by both gods and demons worshipping her, as she is the goddess of all achievements, and the one that destroys ignorance. Siddhidatri is really one of the most glorious forms of Durga. With her grace, all wishes are fulfilled, and as she satisfies our desires, it’s also believed that after worshipping her, no desire will remain in the heart.

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Ardhnarishwar

Legend also says that after worshipping Siddhidatri, Lord Shiva was blessed with all 26 of her Siddhis. With her blessing, half of Shiva’s body became that of Maa Shakti (female form), and thus he became Ardhnarishwar.

Take a few minutes of silence on the final day of Navratri to give thanks and appreciation for all the blessings we are bestowed that live within us and all around us. Let your desired achievements be known, and give thanks for the super powers that you possess. The final devotion to Siddhidatri completes the Navratri festival! Jai Mata Di!

Mantra: Om Hreem Shri Siddhidatri Durgayei Nahama

Oct 10th – Sky Blue is worn

Note: Tomorrow, October 11th is Dussehra, which always follows Maha Navratri. It’s the celebration of Durga’s victory over Mahishasura, after fighting him for nine long nights; and also the celebration of Rama’s victory over Ravana in Lanka. More to come…