Basti Kriya is a technique of replenishing the body internally by cleansing the colon completely. It is one of the six purification techniques known as shatkarma mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
According to Hatha yoga pradipika, shatkarma is a preliminary practice that cleanses the body internally and then prepares the yogi to attain spiritual goals.
Each practice of shatkarma comprises cleansing of certain body parts, likewise, basti kriya cleanses the lower abdomen (large intestine) by sucking in water or air through the anus.
There are two techniques of performing Basti kriya to purify the body internally and preparing the body for pranayama and other advanced asanas.
Let’s try to better understand the process focusing on its meaning, implementation, and benefits
Basti Kriya Meaning
The term “Basti” is used to describe something “that resides within a cavity surrounded by four walls.” Basti also means “to hold” or sometimes used to refer to the urinary bladder
Basti kriya shares similarity with an Ayurvedic technique, enema, where the colon is cleansed by introducing a tube filled with medicinal fluid into the rectum. The intention behind both the techniques is to evacuate stool and other impurities from the colon. Hence, basti kriya is also known as the yogic enema.
In Hatha yoga pradipika basti is defined as, “Sitting in utkatasana, navel deep in water, insert a tube into the anus and contract the anus. This cleansing with water is called basti karma.“
This cleansing technique is beneficial in curing several digestive, urinary, and eliminating disorders like flatulence, etc.
Basti Kriya Procedure
There are two types of performing Basti kriya, i.e. Jala Basti (with water) and Sthal Basti Kriya (with air). Let’s get into their practice one-by-one:
1. Jala Basti
Traditionally, jala basti was practiced squatting in a river, however, using a bucket or tub filled with water will do. “Jala” is a term denoting “water”, since the water is used to cleanse the bowels here, hence the name.
- Take a tub filled with water and sit or squat over it in utkatasana. The level of water must come up to the navel.
- Lean forward resting your hands on the knees.
- Suck the water into the large intestine via anus by expanding the anal sphincter muscles.
- Exhale and perform uddhiyana bandha and nauli kriya simultaneously. This will create a vacuum-like suction to draw the water into the lower abdomen and abdominal muscles undergo contraction and churning motion.
- Stand up holding the water inside the bowel for 5-30 minutes
- Then, exhale and expel the water out through the anus. This is the completion of the first round, you can repeat it for 3-5 rounds until the bowels are cleansed.
Tips to Ease the Jala Basti Kriya
- It is an advanced technique therefore beginners insert a catheter into the rectum for drawing the water in. Traditionally, people used to prefer bamboo tubes over plastic tubes or catheters.
- The catheter has to be at least 13-15 cm long, perfectly smooth, and hollow.
- About 4cm or above of the catheter is inserted into the anus. It is suggested to lubricate it with beeswax or non-irritating oil, viz. Vaseline or ghee for easy insertion.
- It is crucial to remove the catheter from the anus without exhaling as soon as you reach your limit of kumbhaka (breath retention).
- In the advanced stages where the tube is not required the rectum is pushed out opening the sphincter muscles with fingers. It is then drawn in performing uddhiyana bandha then the hand is removed followed by retention of breath and then exhalation.
- When you are prepared to expel the water out from the anus, always squat over the toilet as the stool will also be evacuated from the lower intestine.
- Ensure that the water is completely removed from the bowels.
Follow-up Practice (After Jala Basti Kriya)
- Lie down in shavasana on a blanket then gradually assume pashinee mudra. This helps in evacuating any retained water in the bowels via releasing air.
- Then again assume the shavasana followed by bringing the knees to the chest and rocking side to side on the floor. Alternatively, you can rock side to side by opening the arms on the shoulder level.
- Again rest in shavasana for a while and then practice bhujangasana 3-5 times to expel any remaining water or air.
- Also, you can add mayurasana to the sequence for better experiences.
2. Sthala Basti
- Lie down on your back at a 60-degree angle to the floor assuming viparita karani mudra.
- Now, draw the knees down towards the chest and push the sphincter muscles out and in to fill in the air into the bowels.
- The sucked-in air is held inside and pulled upwards towards the colon performing nauli kriya. Meanwhile, the air (Apana Vayu) rises upward exerting pressure on the navel region.
- Retain the air inside for a few minutes and then expel it through the anus.
- It forms one round of sthala basti and can be repeated 3-5 times as per convenience.
Sthala Basti Variations
Some texts also mentioned that sthala basti can also be practiced assuming pashinee mudra. Advanced practitioners also perform it holding paschimottanasana for 2-3 minutes along with practicing ashwini mudra 20-25 times.
In the beginning, while performing nauli kriya, uddhiyana bandha can also be applied, similar to jala basti, to suck the air in.
“Sthala” means “ground”, since this basti kriya is performed in the ground, therefore named so. People also refer to it as Pavana Basti or Vata Basti kriya because air is used for cleansing the colon.
Keeping in mind that the air used here is dry, sometimes it is also known by the name of Shushka Basti.
Basti Kriya Precautions
- People with high blood pressure, hernia, or any severe digestive disorder must avoid basti kriya.
- Avoid the consumption of food for about 72 minutes after performing basti kriya.
- Ensure that you have expertise in nauli kriya and uddhiyana bandha.
- For the jala basti kriya, always use a sterilized catheter tube and use only clean water neither too hot nor cold.
- It is best to avoid this practice in cloudy, rainy, windy, or stormy weather.
- This practice must be performed in the morning on an empty stomach.
Basti Kriya Benefits
1. Replenishes the bowels
Basti kriya washes away or cleanses the entire colon. It removes any harmful bacteria, toxic impurities, accumulated stool, threadworms, and heat from the intestines.
This way basti kriya is great practice to flush out impurities of lower intestine that generally doesn’t removed in daily life. Hence it serves in weight loss and detoxification of the body.
2. Cures digestive disorders
Basti kriya practice benefits the abdominal organs, as pressure is exerted on the stomach. It stimulates the digestive organs and improves the efficiency of the digestive system.
Besides facilitating improved digestion, it cures digestive disorders. People suffering from constipation, nervous diarrhea, flatulence, and irritable bowel syndrome gets therapeutic benefits from Basti kriya. It also comes in handy while treating chronic colitis and dysentery with the doctor’s consent.
3. Balances the doshas
Basti kriya brings equilibrium among Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It removes excess disease-causing dosha and balances the tissues (dhatus). It purifies the body and all the senses work efficiently.
4. Enhances skin tone
By purifying the body internally this practice improves your appetite. Due to this, the body gains proper nourishment and it reflects well in the skin. Basti hydrated the body which enhances the glow, tone, and texture of the skin.
5. Stimulates solar plexus
This yogic practice exerts pressure on the abdomen which stimulates and strengthens the solar plexus. It improves the overall well being of the body by influencing the nervous system. It enables the efficient working of the stomach, kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands.
6. Acts as a remedial practice
Diseases like Splenomegaly (spleen enlargement), dysuria (urinary disorders), colon cancer or tumors which is very common in male can be cured by performing basti kriya.
Basti Kriya is an advanced yogic cleansing of the body that cures most ailments. Its significance can be well understood by its description as “Ardha chikitsa“, i.e. half of all treatments of the world put together.
Thus, prepare your body physically, mentally, and spiritually for the advanced yogic practices along with revitalizing all your senses performing basti kriya.