If you use the term ‘Kriya yoga’ in the west nowadays, people think of Paramansa Yogananda and the yoga that he coined with the name Kriya Yoga. In this chapter however we do not talk about this yoga practice but about the Kriyas that have been described in the ancient yoga scriptures.
The well-known scripture Hatha Yoga Pradipika gives an introduction to Kriyas in Chapter 2, Shloka 21-23. The scripture describes six cleansing techniques, the ‘Shatkarma’ or ‘Shatkriya’:
These are the main Kriyas which can then be split into different techniques.
Dhauti can be performed as internal and external cleaning and the different techniques are classified in the following way:
|Antar (Internal) Dhauti||Danta (Teeth) Dhauti||Hrid (Chest/Cardiac) Dhauti||Moola Shodhana (Rectal) Dhauti|
|Varisara Dhauti||Jihva Dhauti||Vastra Dhauti||Moola Shodhana|
|Vatsara Dhauti||Karna Dhauti||Vaman Dhauti / Kunjar Kriya / Vyaghra Kriya|
Neti is differentiated in two practices: Jal Neti and Sutra Neti.
Additionally it is told that these Kriyas are especially used to reduce and expel excessive Kapha, mucus, and fat from the body. The cleansing techniques are generally said to be the best exercises for balancing the three doshas of Ayurveda in the body. Basti for example is used to reduce Vata and Dhauti and Neti reduce Kapha.
In this way the Kriyas have different qualities which you can find described in detail below. Please note that not each of these cleaning techniques should be performed daily. Several Kriyas are only used with a special reason and others only performed under guidance of an experienced instructor. In such cases you will find a note in the detailed description.