Introduction to Shatkarma
Hata yoga, as described in the early yoga Upanishads, was made up of shatkarmas is a very precise and systematic science. Shat means ‘six’ and karma means ‘action’; the shatkarmas consist of six groups of purification practices. The aim of hatha yoga, and therefore, of the shatkarmas is to create harmony between the two major pranic flows, Ida and Pingala, there by attaining physical and mental purification and balance.
The shatkarmas are also used to balance the three doshas or humours in the body: kapha, mucus; pitta, bile; and vata, wind. According to both Ayurveda and hata yoga, an imbalance in the doshas will result in illness. These practices are also used before pranayama and other higher yoga practices in order to purify the body of toxins and to ensure safe and successful progression along the spiritual path.
The powerful techniques never be learned from books or taught by inexperienced people. According to the tradition, only those instructed by a guru may teach others. It is essential to be personally instructed as to how and when to perform the shatkarmas, according to individual limitations and needs.
The six shatkarmas are as follows:
All of these practices require the guidance of a competent teacher.
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