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Shankhaprakshalana (Master Cleansing/ Yogic Detoxification)
"Shankhaprakshalana" is comprised of two words. "Shankha" means conch and "Prakshalana" means to wash completely. The word "Shankha" represents the digestive system from mouth to rectum. Shankhaprakshalana is one of the major hatha yoga practices, under the name of Dhauti Kriya. It is also known as "Varisara Dhauti". "Vari" means water and "Dhauti" refers to 'internal washing'. This practice is also a part of "Kaya Kalpa", an Ayurvedic technique for physical purification and transformation. 'Kaya" means body and "kalpa" means transformation. Shankhaprakshalana is a process to cleanse the intestinal tract by removing the impurities with salty lemon water. Shankhaprakshalana creates a reformative action throughout the entire body and continues when the person follows a therapeutic regimen of special diet and asanas. A person's health improves and overall a positive step toward good health.The benefits for the serious yogic practitioner is a lighter, more flexible, physical body. A yogic person feels less stiffness, lethargy and heaviness. As with fasting, a clearer and more alert mind is also experienced, but without the irritating feeling of an empty stomach it is recommended that the intake of toxic substances be stopped while practicing Shankhaprakshalana. No smoking or consumption of alcohol or other habits that will contribute to an adverse outcome. This is a time for personal reflection, where a person's life changes direction. A new nutritional diet, new habits and the foundation for a positive view of life are re-established.
History: The ancient Yogis visualised their digestive system as a conch, a long spiral tunnel in the body where food travelled. To cleanse the entire digestive system, the Yogis discovered the beneficial practice, self-cleansing with salt water.
Note: Please do not try Shankhaprakshalana in the absence of a Yoga Guru or experienced Yoga Instructor or without the recommendation of a medical practitioner. Shankhaprakshalana should be performed only once every six months.
Ample clean, warm water should be available. Add half tea spoon of salt and half lemon juice per liter to the water. Location:-Shankhapkshalana is practiced in an open quiet area where there is fresh air. For example, a garden or spacious rooftop. A clear sunny day is also recommended.
Shankhaprakshalana can be practiced alone, but is best practiced in a group. The atmosphere should be quiet, relaxed, and meditative. Please ensure that adequate toilet facilities are nearby.
Shankhaprakshalana begins the night before the cleanse when light, simple meal or clear liquid diet, soup or clear juice is recommended prior to the cleanse. The next morning, a bath or shower should be taken early in the day. Note, no bathing or showering is permitted during or after Shankhaprakshalana, even on the hottest day. A whole Shankhaprakshalana session takes about 3-4 hours.
After completely flushing intestines , a 30 minute rest period is mandatory. Sleep must be resisted at least for 3 hours , in order to avoid complete cessation of intestinal activity,
Special meal and activities
One hour after completing Shankhaprakshalana , a person should eat a special food called Khichadi. Eating Khichadi at the correct time is essential. The three components of the khichadi, rice+moong lentils+clarified butter are helpful in the restoration of the digestive function.
The same meal should also be prepared as the second meal for the late afternoon or evening meal. At this meal, it is Okay to add cucurbit vegetables like Lauki in the Khichadi.
During the day, there should no movement which creates excitement, tension or temperature change as the body is in a sensitive recovery state. Strenuous activities (for example, sports, sexual intercourse), even sitting under a fan or in an air-conditioned room should be avoided. As a change in body temperature or excessive physiological activity may be overwhelming for the body in a recovery phase. Resting quietly is the best practice. Yoga asanas should NOT be practiced for 2 days, until the tissues and metabolic processes have completely recovered.
During recovery, the mind and body are in a pure and meditative state. This is a great opportunity to practice mauna (full silence with calm mind) or reading spiritual books.
If headache or vomiting is felt in the afternoon, a kunjal or neti kriya is recommended, followed by a rest period in a shavasana . If possible, medication intake should be avoided for at least a few days too.
People who should NOT practice Shankhaprakshalana
As with all natural kriyas, there are limitations as to who is fit to practice. People with active fever, ulcers, heart disease, high and low blood pressure, epilepsy or kidney failure should not practice Shankhaprakshalana. Medical supervision is advised in these cases.
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