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Lesson 314 - Colon Cleansing  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Mar 9, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

It has been said that many diseases can be cured through colon cleansing the use of enemas. Hence the rise in popularity of this practice, and even the springing up of colon cleansing clinics across the landscape. Like with so many things in yoga, a moderate approach can be very helpful for our spiritual progress and health. But an obsession with any one practice at the expense of everything else can be counter-productive. It is with that warning that we discuss colon cleansing, the shatkarma that is called basti.

The colon is the part of the intestines that goes from the appendix in the lower right abdomen upward (ascending), across from right to left just above the navel (transverse), and back down (descending) the left side of the abdomen to the rectum and the anus. 

Basti is a simple warm water enema with a gravity bag, hose with clamp, and an insert fitting at the end, which fits in the anus. An enema bag can be obtained at any drug store.

Slightly warm tap water can be used if it is free of bacteria. If not, use bottled water. No salt is used. With the bag hung a few feet above the anus, carefully fill up the colon with about a quart or liter of water (or less), either leaning forward on the toilet or lying down on the left side. To protect against urinary tract infection, care should be taken not to leak water from the anus on to the urethra ladies especially. Wait for a few minutes before expelling. Some light nauli (see Lesson 129) can be done while sitting on the toilet before and during the emptying of the colon. This easy and quick procedure will provide a good colon clean-out.

For spiritual purposes, basti can be done every morning before bathing and sitting practices, along with jala neti/nasal wash. However, this is not a routine for beginning yoga practitioners, nor needed for advanced practitioners with ecstatic conductivity well established. The shatkarmas are most useful for spiritual purposes in the middle stage cultivation of ecstatic conductivity, done in conjunction with a full yoga routine.

For health reasons, one might prefer to use basti for relief during times of stress, constipation and other digestive problems.

Can basti become a habit that we cannot let go of, so we become dependent on the enema to clear our bowels? Not necessarily. Basti can be used daily for spiritual purposes for a long time in support of the yoga routine to assist the awakening of ecstatic conductivity. Then, at some point when ecstatic awakening has become strong and self-sustaining, basti can be discontinued and used only occasionally thereafter. 

With the many changes in neurobiological functioning that occur in advancing yoga, regular elimination becomes part of the overall ecstatic neurobiology, but it takes a transition (with a full range of practices) to get there. The cleansing shatkarmas, including basti, are part of that transitional phase.

So there is no rush to begin basti and shatkarmas in general if we are new to yoga. It is much better to become established in deep meditation, spinal breathing pranayama and other yoga practices, and then the shatkarmas will be there when we need them. We will know when to take them up, based on our inner leanings, just as we will know when and how our diet may change as inner development advances. 

On the other hand, we can also find health benefits in using basti, and this can be another reason for taking it up along with any other shatkarmas that aid our health. Everyone is different and has different needs. However, obsession is never the right reason to undertake yoga practices, and especially not to overdo them. 

Obviously, we don't want to become dependent on basti for our elimination forever. If it is used mainly for health purposes, then maybe once or twice per week will be plenty. When the inner energies are moving (kundalini), our rising bhakti will let us know when it is time to do more basti and other shatkarmas. At times, it can be daily, and then, later on, maybe not at all.

In this discussion, we are presenting basti primarily as a spiritual practice. It may also be utilized by many for health reasons. We have discussed a basic form of basti, which can be done by anyone at home. For health applications there are variations that may include more extensive assisted enemas in a clinical environment, and herbal enemas that contain various preparations added either to the enema water, or taken orally at a previous time. There are many variations available for using basti/enema. 

For our purposes in yoga, a stable routine of practice will be the most effective approach during a period of weeks or months on our path that basti may needed. 

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on shatkarmas (cleansing techniques), see the Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book, and AYP Plus.

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