In order to make sure proper cleansing of the internal organ system, ancient yogic text Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes various kriya (action). In the text, there are 6 purification kriyas mentioned which work on the different regions of the body including the head, upper stomach, lower stomach, nostrils, and eyes. Vaman dhauti or kunjal kriya is used for cleansing of the upper stomach region.
What is Kunjal Kriya?
Kunjal Kriya is a yogic purification technique of Hatha Yoga to flush out the impurities from the upper digestive tract by voluntarily induced vomiting.
In this kriya, saline lukewarm water is drunk more than normal capacity. Then after keeping it inside for a few minutes water is thrown out of the stomach using finger-inducing.
This kriya is highly beneficial for acidity or indigestion related problems. Moreover, Gherenda Samhita claims that this practice when performed consistently can cure ailments of the liver and spleen 1. The reason is, in kunjal kriya, the undigested food particles which create toxins in the stomach are thrown out by the gush of water. If these undigested food particles are not removed from the stomach lining, later it creates a sticky yellowish-white substance called ‘Ama’ 2.
What is Vaman Dhauti?
If we see the classification of 6 shatkarma (purification techniques), then the first one is Dhauti. Further, dhauti kriya is of 4 types based on the cleansing of different parts of the upper digestive system. The literal meaning of Dhauti is ‘washing’.
Vaman dhauti is a similar practice to kunjal kriya where the content of the stomach is thrown by induced vomiting. It’s also called vyaghra kriya (tiger-like action); Just as a tiger vomits its food after a few hours of eating it, in the same way, vomiting is done in the Vaman dhauti to flush out undigested food particles. Vaman dhauti is also known as ‘Jala dhauti’ and ‘Gaja karni kirya’.
However the procedure of both kriyas are identical, the difference is based on the timing and purpose. Vaman dhauti is done after 3 or 4 hours of having a meal whereas kunjal kriya is a morning practice that is advised to perform on empty stomach.
Vaman is also a part of popular therapy of Ayurveda called panchakarma. Here it’s practiced using some ayurvedic medicine to induce the vomit. It eliminates the excess of Kapha dosha which causes an increase in mucus, congestion in the lungs, bronchitis, cold, and cough.
kunjal kriya should not be performed in some physical conditions where it may cause harm. Common conditions it’s contraindicated are; In case of pregnancy, menstrual cycle, hernia of stomach, heart disease, hematemesis (blood vomiting), and abdomen tumor.
How to Do Kunjal Kriya?
- Prepare a bottle of lukewarm saline water
- Drink water in a sitting position
- Perform abdominal moments
- Induce throat to vomit
- Relax in Shavasana
1. Prepare a bottle of lukewarm saline water
Heat 1.5 – 2 liters of pure drinking water up to the body temperature (almost 37.2°C). take 1 teaspoon of salt & mix it properly with water. A beginner can use a little high proportion of salt (2 teaspoons) to produce nausea. Place a glass aside to drink fastly.
2. Drink water in a sitting position
Sit in the squat pose on the ground. Spread knees apart so that stomach is not pressing against the thighs.
Now, pour water into a pot or glass and drink 1 liter of water as fast as possible. Nothing is felt till a liter of water is consumed. Relax for a few seconds and drink left water fastly.
Now, when you feel satiated or drunk at your full capacity, you must feel nausea in the stomach. It is a good sign of cleansing. Now stand up in an upright position as soon as you drink a full quantity of water.
3. Perform abdominal moments
Perform abdominal moments to let the water moments well inside the stomach so that cleansing would be more effective.
Fastly expand and contract abdominal muscles a few times, just as if you are performing Uddiyana Bandha. Now, when you start feeling straining because of the weight of the water into the stomach, you ready to throw it out.
4. Induce throat to vomit out water
Bend your trunk forward at 90° angle while keeping feet at a distance of 1 to 1.5 ft.
Now, press your ‘stomach in’ with exhalation in the same bending position. At the same time, insert your index and middle finger of the right hand deep down into the throat.
Generally, a little pressure of finger at the end of the tongue is enough to induce vomit.
Inducing let the water come out in gushes but sometimes it comes out in a small amount in the beginning. Water comes out in tasteless & yellowish colour in beginning but after a few gushes, water comes out comparably bitter in taste. This shows undigested residue has eliminated completely in the process.
In the end of kunjal kriya, drink one glass of water for final cleansing.
5. Relax in Shavasana
One should take food at least one hour after completing the kunjal kriya. Eat rice pudding or take sweet milk to get abdominal organs back in its working.
You may feel the emptiness of your stomach after kunjal kriya or vaman dhauti practice. It’s a sign of cleansing.
Kunjal kriya and vaman dhauti has following benefits;
- Enhances digestion – On doing kunjal kriya, the load on the digestive system gets reduced for a while. It rejuvenates the functioning of digestive organs, increases appetite, relief from indigestion problems, and constipation.
- Strengthens respiratory system – Induced vomiting in kunjal kriya enhances the endurance of the respiratory muscles and decreases airway resistance. It’s helpful in the management of pulmonary disorders like bronchitis and bronchial asthma 3.
- Clears skin – Kunjal kriya or vaman dhauti is an effective remedy in curing various skin diseases, acne vulgaris 4, and itching. Yogis have observed, consistent practice of this kriya brings glow on the skin and slows down the aging process.
- Balance Kapha and pitta dosha – Kunjal kriya and vaman dhauti is most beneficial for people who have weight gain, fluid retention, allergies, fatigue, depression, and insomnia like problems. These all problem happens due to an imbalance in Kapha dosha (and associated pitta dosha). Kunjal kriya removes phlegm, mucus, infectious bacteria from the stomach lining and balances the excess of Kapha dosha.
- Helps in weight loss – kunjal kriya and vaman dhauti neutralizes the acid balance in the stomach thus helpful in counteracting the digestive fire. This helps in reducing the excessive hunger and thirst intern the obesity 5. Moreover, strong contractions of the stomach wall during the kunjal kriya results in toned abdominal muscles.
- Check the lukewarm for temperature; makesure it’s neither too hot nor cold.
- People suffering from high or low blood pressure, respiration or ulcers problem should avoid this kriya.
- Make sure your fingernails are cut before you insert it on the throat, otherwise it can harm you.
- Try to throw out complete water in vomit as much you had drunk otherwise you may feel acidity.
Kunjal Kriya FAQs
It’s not recommended to practice kunjal kriya daily, however, if you’re feeling acidity, indigestion, or burning sensation continuously, it can be done on consecutive days. A healthy person should keep the frequency of kunjal kriya once a week.
Blood in kunjal kriya vomit could have several reasons. It happens sometimes due to nail scratches in the throat (especially in the case of a small child who has delicate skin) or excess pitta (bile) in the stomach. If both aren’t the case; a stomach ulcer could be the reason for it.
However, there isn’t any health risk associated with kunjal kriya but sometimes it can lead to dental erosion. The toxins from the stomach can eradicate the outer layer of teeth which leads to dental erosion 6. But it may only happen by daily practice, this is why kunjal kriya is not recommended daily.
- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda, and Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. “Yoga Publications Trust.” Ganga Darshan, Munger, Bihar, India (2003)
- Ama: The Antithesis of Agni https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/understanding-agni/ama-the-antithesis-of-agni/
- Voluntarily induced vomiting – A yoga technique to enhance pulmonary functions in healthy humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6148069
- study on the effect of rohitaka sharapunkha churna and kunjal kriya on mukhadushik http://med.stmjournals.com/index.php?journal=AYUSH&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=194
- Management of sthaulya (OBESITY) through kunjal kriya https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269846898_Management_of_sthaulya_OBESITY_through_kunjal_kriya
- A case report of patient practising yoga leading to dental erosion https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17695740/