By Swami Harshananda
Basti literally means "cleansing the pelvic region’.
The aim of human life is to get spiritual illumination. This can be achieved only by strenuous sādhanā or spiritual discipline. The body is an invaluable instrument in this process of sādhanā.
Body may wear out before time due to impurities in the internal systems. The science of Haṭhayoga has devised several simple methods for correcting the internal disorders through cleansing processes. They are six in number and are called ‘ṣaṭkarmas’ (ṣat = six). The second of these six is ‘basti.’
Basti is the process of cleansing the intestines. It is of two types :
- Jalabasti - It is practiced in water. Jalabasti is yogic enema, practiced in navel deep water, by sitting in utkaṭāsana and alternately contracting and expanding the anus muscle (the sphincter).
- Sthala or śuṣka-basti - It is practiced on land. When the same is practiced on land, it becomes sthalabasti (sthala = land, ground) or śuṣka-basti (śuṣka = dry). However, paścimottānāsana is recommended for this basti.
Gastric troubles, wind troubles, constipation, cough and bile complaints are said to be cured by these two bastis. It is advisable to practice them under the care and guidance of an expert.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore