Sodhana – Satkarma

The first, or cleansing, is effected by the six processes known as the satkarma. Of these, the first is Dhauti, or washing, which is fourfold, or inward washing (antar-dhauti), cleansing of the teeth, (dantadhauti), etc., of the “heart” (hrddhauti), and of the rectum (muladhauti).

Antardhauti is also fourfold – namely, vatasara, by which air is drawn into the belly and then expelled; varisara, by which the body is filled with water, which is then evacuated by the anus; vahnisara, in which the nabigranthi is made to touch the spinal column (meru): and bahiskrta, in which the belly is by kakini-mudra (1) filled with air, which is retained half a jama (2) and then sent downward.

Dantadhauti is fourfold, consisting of the cleansing of the root of the teeth and tongue, the ears and the “hollow of the forehead” (kapala-randhra). By hrddhauti phlegm and bile are removed. This is done by a stick (danda-dhauti) or cloth (vaso-dhauti) pushed into the throat or swallowed, or by vomiting (vamana-dhauti). Muladhauti is done to cleanse the exit of the apanavayu either with the middle finger and water or the stalk of a turmeric plant.

Vasti, the second of the satkarma, is twofold and is either of the dry (suska) or watery (jala) kind. In the second form the yogi sits in the utkatasana (3) posture in water up to the navel, and the anus is contracted and expanded by asvini mudra ; or the same is done in the pascimottanasana, (4) and the abdomen below the navel is gently moved. In neti the nostrils are cleansed with a piece of string.

Lauliki is the whirling of the belly from side to side. In trataka the yogi, without winking, gazes at some minute object until the tears start from his eyes. By this the “celestial vision” (divya-drsti) so often referred to in the Tantrika-upasana is acquired. Kapalabhati is a process of the removal of phlegm, and is three-fold – vata-krama by inhalation and exhalation; vyutkrama by water drawn through the nostrils and ejected through the mouth ; and sitkrama the reverse process.

These are the various processes by which the body is cleansed and made pure for the yoga practice to follow.

1. Gheranda-Sarmhita, Third Upadda (verse 86).
2. A jama is three hours.
3. Gheranda-Samhita, Second Upadesa (verse 23). That is squatting, resting on the toes, the heels off the ground, and buttocks resting on heels.
4. Ibid., verse 20