The Yoga Tutor

Basic Purification Practices

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 126 ]

The following are four basic purification practices that should be performed every morning immediately upon awakening.

Tongue Scraping

  • In the absence of a specifically designed tongue scraper, use your fingernails or a teaspoon, with the hollow side downward, to thoroughly scrape the tongue, pulling from the root forward toward the tip.
  • Rinse the scraper with water after each pass and continue until the saliva present on the scraper is totally clear.
  • Try not to swallow during the entire process, rather spit out any accumulation in the mouth.
  • If you have never performed this exercise before, you will indeed be amazed at the residue that deposits itself on the surface of the tongue during sleep. This exercise helps to remove excess phlegm (kapha) from the head.
  • Technically this process is called jihvamula dhauti in yoga, or "the purification of the tongue-root."

Teeth Cleaning

  • For this practice, it is best to use unrefined salt (rock-salt) or sea-salt.
  • Place the salt on the end of your finger and rub strongly, thoroughly massaging your gums and, in general, all the mucous membranes of your mouth, as well as your teeth.
  • Don’t forget the inner surfaces, the tongue and the palate. Try not to swallow anything, spitting when necessary.
  • Rinse your mouth with clear water afterwards.
  • Alternatively, the teeth and gums can be massaged in the same fashion with the fingertips alone, without the salt.

Nasal Cleaning: Jala Neti

There are two primary types of neti: jala and sutra. Jalam means “water” and sutra refers to a “thread or string.” We will proceed with the jala neti or nasal cleansing with water.

  • Use warm salted water with the concentration of one-quarter teaspoon per cup (250ml) of water.
  • The traditional method is to take some salted water in the hollow of one hand.
  • Close the opposite nostril with the index finger of the other hand and inhale through the open nostril, drawing the water in until it reaches the mouth.
  • Do not swallow anything, rather, vigorously expel the water back through the nostril while continuing to hold the other side closed.
  • Repeat this process on the opposite side.
  • When finished, blow your nose into a tissue to clear the sinuses of any residual liquid.

This technique may more easily be performed with the help of a special pot called a neti pot, which has a long spout. Even a small teapot will suffice.

  • Leaning over a basin or sink, slightly turn your head to one side and insert the spout of the pot into the upturned nostril.
  • Continue to turn your head further and allow the liquid to pour into the nose. The liquid will flow from one sinus into the other and then run freely out of the other side, so there is no need to block the opposite nostril.
  • If heavily blocked sinuses inhibit the flow of liquid through to the other side, then block off the lower nostril and inhale as described previously, until the fluid begins to pass into the throat.
  • Finish by expelling the excess fluid as described previously.
  • The benefits of this technique are many-fold. The enormous enhancement of olfactory senses after this nasal douche should be enough to convince anyone of its therapeutic efficacy.

This kriya loosens and flushes away incrustations of dried mucous in the nasal cavities, dissolves and expels dust and other impacted pollutants, and thoroughly washes the sensitive olfactory endings, making head colds are a thing of the past for those who regularly practice it.

This yogic nasal irrigation also enhances the capacity to extract and assimilate prana from the air.

Eye Wash

  • Fill your cupped hands with cool, fresh-running water, and gently splash/bath the eyes.
  • This can be done in several steps by first directing the eye gaze upwards, then downwards, once to each side and then splashing water several times while looking straight.
  • This exercise helps to flush the eye socket and surface of the eyes clear of dust, dirt and mucous build-up, leading to clearness of sight as well as mind.


NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

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... It is indeed a masterful work."


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