I want to talk about “varisara dhauti” for just a moment. Today, the more well-known name for this practice is “shankhaprakshalana.” Dhauti, as most informed yogis know, are cleansing techniques prescribed by traditional hatha yoga. The very suggestion that we need a physically clean body in order to elevate the soul is a practice that most of us, in our increasingly polluted world, can benefit from.
To clarify, varisara dhauti is the practice of drinking a total of 16 glasses of warm salty water and evacuating it through the bowels. The first step is to drink 2 glasses, then perform an exact series of 5 specific asanas: tadasana, tiryakatadasana, kati chakrasana, tiryaka bhujangasana and udarakarshan asana.
The asanas should be practiced after every two glasses of water. Keep repeating until water starts flowing out of the anus. The practice should continue until the expelled water is completely clear, as this is an indication that the stomach and intestines are perfectly cleaned.
About an hour afterwards, the practitioner must consume a salt-free soup of cooked rice, dal of mungbeans, and ghee until the stomach is entirely full. The ancient texts say that there are very specific dietary guidelines following varisara dhauti and this practice should not be attempted alone, but under the watchful eyes of the guru.
How realistic is this practice to the average modern householder? You already know the answer to that. It is not about following an exact prescription. In fact, practically interpreting the method and adapting it to our current lifestyle will yield faster results.
I usually teach yoga to a group of busy urban professionals for 3 weeks out of the month. I am taking some time off for myself, not teaching, and have been exploring the less well-known practices of hatha yoga.
Here is my interpretation of varisara dhauti: A semi fast, asana and coffee enemas. The day begins with the coffee enemas. I hold it as long as possible while performing gentle sequence of asanas on all fours on the shower floor, for about twenty minutes. Then a 90-minute asana practice. Blended greens with fruit are the meals of the day.
Earlier on in my yoga practice, my mother frequently commented on my love of self-torture. Quite revealing. After all, no one knows your innate nature that the woman who nursed you during the initial years of your life. My horoscope readings also come up with a draw toward being the center of attention and of an impossible set of standards of which everyone is measured against.
So do I think that you are a bad person if you do not fast and consume only blended fresh vegetables? No, but what’s holding you back?
Central Thailand, including Bangkok and the surrounding suburbs, is in the middle of a massive flood. People have no food and water. Considering that my island studio resort, a place where I offer yoga retreats that explores the deeper practices of yoga: Be Naked Yoga is entirely unaffected, and in great gratitude to the universe, I am making frequent monetary donations and, just for a few days, seeing what it feels like to be hungry. The results after just a few days have been profound, as business earnings came out of nowhere (the money returns) and I have never felt lighter in my body.
May you always feel connection to everything on this Earth. Om Shanti Om.
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