10 : Shatkarma

Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana (Short Intestinal Wash)

Laghoo shankhaprakshalana is said to regularise the functioning of the intestines and encourage good bowel movement. Shankha means ‘conch’ and prakshalana means ‘to wash completely’.

Laghoo shankhaprakshalana is performed in the early morning on an empty stomach. It should not be undertaken by pregnant women. If you are taking medication please consult your doctor before practising laghoo shankhaprakshalana as it could affect the absorption of the medication.

Prepare hot salty water by dissolving two teaspoons of salt in one litre of hot water.

Perform the following sequence THREE times:

Drink two large glasses of water as quickly as you can. The water should be as hot as you can bear it.

Perform each of the following exercises EIGHT times:

Tadasana. Stand with arms raised overhead, fingers interlinked and the palms to the ceiling raise and lower the heels quickly. Acts on the stomach and stretches the colon.

Tiryaka Tadasana. Stand with feet 18 inches apart, arms raised overhead, fingers interlinked and the palms to the ceiling. Bend to left and then to the right. Acts on the small intestine and colon.

Kati Chakrasana. Standing waist rotation. Massages the small intestine.

Tiryaka Bhujangasana. In bhujangasana with legs 18 inches apart and toes tucked under. Twist to look over the left shoulder at the right foot then return to centre before twisting to look over the right shoulder at the left foot. Squeezes and massages the caecum, sigmoid colon and rectum, and also stimulates the rectosphincteric reflex (urge to defecate).

Udarakar shanasana.  Squat with the hands on the knees. Drop the right knee to the floor and twist to the left. Return to the centre and then drop the left knee to the floor and twist to the right. Squeezes and massages the caecum, sigmoid colon and rectum, and also stimulates the rectosphincteric reflex (urge to defecate).

Go to the toilet but do not strain to achieve a bowel movement. The motion may come later.

Rest in Savasana for 30 mins. After this period of rest food may be taken.

The five asanas activate peristalsis and the sphincters or valves, muscles and nerves of the digestive tract in order to enhance the cleansing process. They progressively open the pyloric valve at the outlet of the stomach, then the ileocaecal valve at the exit of the small intestine and finally the sphincter which forms the anus.


At the end of practice, observe mouna(silence) and refrain from doing strenuous activities. Be as relax as possible but do not sleep as this may cause headache.

At the end of the practice, the overall feeling is great. I feel very light, clean and full of energy. Over the next couple of days, my bowel movements are smooth and the body is very refreshed and energised with no lethargic feeling. 

My favourite part of the practice is actually when we are observing mouna. As my day job is quite havoc with people throwing questions at me all the time and full of debates and idea throwing and talking, getting an hour or two of complete silence is absolutely amazing! The silence lets us reflect and concentrate internally and onto ourselves more than ever. No phones, No TV, Nothing with the external world. Being in silence opens up our observation level to a new limit. To be aware, and to observe with no distractions lets us focus on the important things especially after shatkarma practice.

Shanti, this new found knowledge is incredible for me.

Last but not least, we also learned a mantra for for mental, emotional and physical health.

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
oṁ tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭi-vardhanam ǀ

उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनात् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ।।
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt ǁ


This mantra’s energy protects and guides the initiates a mantra re-links consciousness to its deeper and more abiding nature and repetition of the mantra constitutes Japa, the practice that develops concentration which leads to a transformation of awareness. The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is meant for healing rejuvenation and nurturance.