Dhauti, a part of six purification techniques in hatha yoga known as Shatkarma, is designed to wash out impurities of the complete alimentary canal. Different types of dhauti are used for cleansing from the tip of the mouth to the bottom of the rectum. Vastra dhauti, a part of Hrid or Cardiac dhauti, is basically the cleansing of the upper stomach region to relieve from ‘Kapha’ or phlegm related problems.
The science of Vastra Dhauti
Functioning of the internal system of organs in a human body depends upon 3 Doshas namely: Kapha (phlegm), Pitta (bile), & Vata (wind). Imbalance on any of these 3 doshas leads to some impairment or disorders in the body.
the food & beverage we take produce some waste product also & sometimes it gets stucks in the Oesophagus (gullet). This waste product keeps accumulating with time & converts in the form of phlegm & mucus. The effect of mucus can be seen in the body during nasty cold while phlegm comes out in the form of cough or wheeze. Hence, excessive accumulation of these waste product in the body imbalance the ‘Kapha dosha’.
Vastra dhauti is performed in order to remove mucus blocking in respiratory tracts & maintain excess gastric juice secretions. In this way, it balances the Kapha Dosha in the body & cures all skin diseases, common fiver & respiratory disorders.
Vastra Dhauti: A Detailed Explanation
As the name of every other posture in yoga, the name ‘Vastra’ is also taken from the Sanskrit language. Vastra means ‘A Piece of Cloth’ & Dhauti referred here for ‘Cleansing’. This practice is pretty much like Vamana Dhauti, except that here a Vastra (A Piece of Cloth) is used in place of water.
Theoretically, the practice of Vastra Dhauti firstly described in ancient yogic scripture ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ verse 2.24. In the practice of Vastra Dhauti, a loosely made moist cotton cloth is swallowed into the stomach. After completely swallowing cloth into the stomach, some abdominal movements (Nauli) are performed. After this, the cloth is slowly pulled out thereby cleaning the stomach.
Cloth of Vastra Dhauti
Swallowing a cloth into the stomach could be quite difficult for seeker if some defects are there in cloth. Therefore following parameters should be kept in mind while performing vastra dhauti.
- The dimension of Vastra Dhauti Cloth
Length – 20 to 25 feet, Width – 2 to 3 inches (Less than the width of the tongue)
- The cloth used in this practice should be made up of finely woven cotton, not a synthetic material.
- All the corners of the cloth should be neatly trimmed so that no fraying takes place.
How to do Vastra Dhauti: A step by step guide
- Preparing a water solution for cloth
- Swallowing the cloth
- Performing abdominal movements (Nauli)
- Pulling cloth out
Step – 1 – Preparing a water solution for cloth
Prepare a bowl or pot of warm water and mix a small amount of salt (2 teaspoons/liter) in it. Saltwater is prepared because it’s not likely absorbed by the delicate blood vessels. Normal water can cause shrinking or bulging out of cells as it’s much absorbed by the cells.
Now grab one end of long cotton cloth & dip it completely into the warm salt water to make it wet. Also, keep a glass of warm drinking water ready by side for small sipping while swallowing.
Step – 2 – Swallowing the cloth
- Relax the body, sit in the squat pose (Utkatasana) – Heels on the ground & buttocks off the ground or resting on some block. One can also sit with the straight spine in Sukhasana if it is more comfortable.
- Now spread the one end of cloth at its maximum width over the tongue while keeping the other end into the bowl.
- Hold the upper end of cloth near the mouth & slowly start swallowing the moist cloth. If the cloth is caught somewhere in the swallowing process, the practitioner can take a small sip of water.
- Once the cloth is swallowed almost completely inside, stand up to practice some abdominal movements. Make sure around half feet cloth hanging outside to pull cloth out at the end of practice.
NOTE : [Do not drink a large quantity of water to swallow the cloth. The stomach should be filled up with cloth, not drinking water.]
Step – 3 – Performing Abdominal Movements (Nauli)
- Now in this stage, the cloth is completely inside the stomach. To make sure the effective cleansing, some movements are performed in the stomach. This practice is called Nauli.
- Move the stomach right to left, left to right one by one and then rotate it in the circular motion. This practice could be difficult for beginners so one can simply churn the stomach side by side.
- 5-10 minutes is sufficient time for cleansing of the whole stomach, although one can leave cloth inside for maximum up to 20 minutes. If the cloth is kept more than 20 minutes in the stomach, the cloth will automatically slide into the small intestine by the regular movements in the stomach.
Step – 4 – Pulling the cloth out
To pull the cloth out, sit again in the squatting position and grab the hanging end of the cloth. Now slowly start pulling cloth outside. The cloth comes out with a lot of sticky substance & mucus from the inner lining of the intestinal tract. One can wash it neatly & sterilize to use cloth next time.
Benefits of Vastra Dhauti
The stomach in the body is the input receptor of all food & beverages, further which on processed finally converts in the form of energy & maintains our health. If the path through food reaches the stomach (esophagus) is not clean, somehow food is affected & so on our health.
There are following health benefits of Vastra dhauti.
- Vastra dhauti cleans the mucus & other sticky substances from the esophagus. Now food wouldn’t be accumulated throughout the way to stomach & hence it relieves asthma, phlegm & cough related problem.
- Different yogic breathing (Pranayama) requires breathing from the throat region & hence, the throat can be cleaned using vastra dhauti before commencing these pranayamas.
- Functioning of the stomach can affect many skin disorders as whole energy is spread through this region. Vastra dhauti cleanses the stomach from toxins stuck there & can relieve acne, itching, & other skin disorders.
- A healthy and clean stomach also helps in effective working of the digestive system as well as liver and spleen. Hence, vastra dhauti can also relieve from gas, acidity & indigestion related problem.
- The practice of vastra dhauti activates the Manipura chakra which is responsible for building up the digestive fire of practitioner.
- A consistent & regular practice of vastra dhauti strengthen the organs of the respiratory system. It also helps to keep active the immune system.
Beginner Tips to do Vastra Dhauti
- Beginners should practice swallowing cloth slowly – day by day as it won’t completely be swallowed in just first day. It should be swallowed in this way.
First day – 1 to 2 feet
Second day – 3 to 4.5 feet
Third day – 5 to 7 feet & so on, 22 feet will be swallowed in around 2 weeks.
- Somewhere near the lowest point of throat cloth tends to stick, at this point resist the urge to vomit. This vomiting urge will end as the cloth passes a little further down to the esophagus.
- If the continuous vomit is urging at the time of swallowing the cloth, just close mouth to resist the urge of vomit.
- A little honey can be placed on the moist cloth if continuous urge of vomiting is happening at the time of swallowing.
- In vastra dhauti practice, one can take milk and rice pudding after relaxing in savasana.
Vastra Dhauti Precautions
- The moist cloth should be touched only over the tongue, not the upper palate of the mouth.
- People suffering from ‘Pitta Dosha’ should use milk to dip the cloth instead of water.
- Vastra Dhauti is practiced after 3 hours the meal.
- Vastra dhuati should be performed only under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher.
- People suffering from high blood pressure & heart diseases should not be performed vastra dhauti.