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Description of the Six Acts

(3) The Cleansing of the Stomach (Dhauti)

"According to the instructions of the teacher, swallow a piece of cloth broad by four fingers, long by fifteen cubits and pull it up again. This is the washing." (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2, 24.)

Dampen the cloth in warm water, slightly squeeze it out and begin the practice by swallowing one cubit of it, then two, then three and so on, until, in this way, the whole cloth can be absorbed after a week or ten days' practice. Leave about one cubit unswallowed, and clenching the teeth firmly upon it, shake the belly. Then, slowly, pull out the cloth. Before swallowing the cloth, it is advisable to drink a quantity of water which helps in the cleansing and in extracting the cloth. The cloth must be washed daily and kept very clean. A soft string is sometimes used instead of a cloth and some people enjoin the use of a red cloth. But commentators remark that it may appear from a distance as if the yogi took out his entrails to wash them, and, since this might be taken for a kind of deceit, they disapprove of it.

"Ailments such as coughs, enlarged spleen, leprosy and the twenty affections of the Iymph undoubtedly disappear as a result of the practice of washing out the stomach." (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2, 25.)

Those affected by certain disorders such as inflammation of the glottis, of the throat or bronchial tubes, dry cough, phthisis, hiccough, nausea, irritation of the stomach, etc. should not wash out the stomach. Moreover, if done daily, without there being a necessity for it, it will take away the gastric juices, weaken the digestive process and lead to general weakness. If practiced when bilious, the cloth may get caught between the stomach and the lesser intestine, and, if the upper part of the cloth be weak, it may get torn off, in which case hot water should be drunk and the cloth brought up with the help of a stick. Owing to the danger of this, the washing of the stomach is forbidden in bilious states.

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