I have just got back from a weekends training with The Inner Yoga Trust which was held at the wonderful Gayles Farm in Eastbourne, East Sussex. It really is a beautiful location, right up on the cliffs near to the Seven Sisters Country Park.
This weekend the training was focused on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which was written in the fifteenth century and is one of the classic texts on hatha yoga. It is an interesting text that goes deeper into the practices of yoga. It covers four chapters that include information about purification (Skt. ṣaṭkarma), posture (āsana), breath control (prāṇāyāma), spiritual centres in the body (chakra), coiled power (kuṇḍalinī), force postures (bandha), (kriyā), power (śakti), subtle/gross bodily connections (nāḍī), and symbolic gestures (mudrā), among other topics.
The purification practices the book suggests are:
- Netī – this is basically flushing your nasal passages with a saline solution
- Dhautī – digestive tract cleansing
- Naulī – internal organ massage through yoga (look up yoga churning!)
- Basti – basically colon cleansing
- Kapālabhātī – cleansing breath
- Trāṭaka – candle gazing/meditation
We avoided the Basti and Dhauti practices (thank goodness!) but we did try all of the others. As a westerner it takes a bit of getting used to but a couple of the purification practices really resonated with me and I thought I would share these with you.
The practice of Netī – or irrigating the nasal passages with saline was surprising. I was dreading this practice – thoughts of inhaling swimming pool water as a child came to mind. But I have to say it wasn’t that bad and my head, nose, sinuses etc felt amazing all day – I plan to carry this on. I did show my family this morning how to do it and they were predictably horrified by it!
The Neti Pot I used was a porcelain version from the Himalayan Institute. It came in a kit form with the neti salt and some special flush stuff. You can buy them on Amazon ( which is where I got mine from)
The other practice that I enjoyed was Trāṭaka or candle gazing as a form of meditation. This involved placing a pillar candle so that it was eye height when you are sitting. The idea is that you stare into the flame, without blinking – until the tears come. Initially this is a bit uncomfortable but you get used to it. If you struggle to meditate and your mind wanders off – this might work for you. Its best undertaken in the evening when its dark. Some of the group found it very stimulating and couldn’t sleep after it. Personally I found it so relaxing but if you wear glasses I think its best to take them off first – the blurryness seemed to help!