It was nearly a year ago when I decided that I should try the complete “colon cleansing” technique called “shankhaprakshalana” (SP). I’ve heard about this technique almost fifteen years ago when I was trying to find a yogic way to help me with my constipation problem.
When I look back, I remember that I had been dealing with constipation since my school days. In those days I used to drink one or two cups of tea first thing in the morning to help me with the bowel movement. Sometimes even after two cups of tea you would have to wait a half hour before the tea would have its effect.
The word Shankhaprakshalana is a compound of two words – shankha which means “shell” and prakshalana which means to wash completely. The word shankha is used to represent the stomach which is more or less the shape of a shell. In practice, however, shankha represents the entire alimentary canal from the mouth to the anus. This practice is also known as “varisar dhouti”, dhouti which is one of the six cleansing routines mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Shankhaprakshalana is the process to clean the intestinal tract by removing impurities with warm, salty water.
As I mentioned earlier, I started thinking about it almost a year ago. However, since the whole procedure takes 3 to 4 hours and then all day you can not do any physical activity, I kept postponing until I could find that “perfect” day that I could devote to this activity alone. So it was Friday, two weeks ago, when I did not have a planned commitment that I finally decided to give it a try. Please, write me if you want to get all the details of the procedure. Here is a brief summary of the procedure:
Eat a very light sattvic dinner the night before.
Prepare a large amount of warm water, adding about two teaspoons of salt per gallon of water.
Begin practice early in the morning, around 6 to 7 AM.
Drink two glasses of prepared water quickly and perform the five prescribed asanas (stretch poses), repeating each asana eight times.
Go to the bathroom and try to empty the intestines. If no movement occurs, do not worry, just go out and repeat the process of drinking two glasses of water followed by the five asanas, as mentioned above. Again go sit on the toilet for bowel movement.
After a few rounds of this procedure, you will notice that only the liquid starts to come out. Initially, the liquid is brownish, but gradually begins to clear.
The procedure is supposed to be completed when the water is perfectly clear, similar to what you drank, it comes out.
After the procedure is complete, rest for about 50 minutes to one hour. Avoid sleeping during this time.
After the rest period, eat a good help of ‘khichari’ a cooked preparation consisting of rice and lentils.
During the day, you are supposed to eat nothing but another khichari help towards the night.
For the next full week, keep a light and sattvic diet. Avoid milk, yogurt or any other dairy product, any citrus juices, etc., or anything too heavy to digest.