What is vaman dhauti?

This post is either going to disgust or intrigue you or possibly both.

I mentioned last week that at the ashram, we underwent yogic cleansing techniques. The first was jala neti and the second was the slightly more unconventional, vaman dhauti.

So what is vaman? Vaman must be performed the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It involves drinking 6 – 8 glasses of warm salt water and then expelling the liquid as a way to clean the digestive tract.

How do you expel the liquid, you ask? By making yourself vomit.

During our lectures at the ashram we talked about vaman extensively. Then the day finally came where we would have to perform it ourselves. We gathered at the front gates of the ashram, where one of our teachers demonstrated the process. We all stood a fair distance back and watched with much trepidation as he downed 8 glasses of warm salt water and then performed Uddiyana bandha (an abdominal lock) to expel the liquid, projectile style!

Then it was our turn. We drank the salt water, crouching with the feet flat on the floor (apparently the best way to do the process). I was able to consume 8 full glasses and then it was time. The urge to purge was upon me.

It takes a while to master the Uddiyana bandha and if you’re unable to vomit naturally after drinking the 8 glasses, you have to resort to the oh so glamorous approach of sticking two fingers down the throat. This was the part I was dreading. I crept my fingers in my mouth and then bingo – I hit the gag reflex. This had to be done a few times to ensure all the water was eliminated. After the process was completed a 10 minute savasana (corpse pose) followed to relax the body.

Sounds a little extreme, huh? However, as strange as it was, vaman was not uncomfortable. I guess we all cringe at such an idea because there is a taboo surrounding vomiting. I doubt there is anyone that has fond memories or positive associations with it. But when you think about it, the actual act of vomiting isn’t a bad thing. Vomiting is a protective reflex which aims to eliminate substances that are not agreeing with you and before they are absorbed into the body.

Generally vomiting (especially after a big night or eating some bad Chinese) causes you feel better afterward, as was the case with vaman. Vaman works to purify the digestive tract which otherwise is really never able to get a good clean. After vaman you will feel energised, revitalised and hungry!

I understand if you’re still not entirely sold on vaman but just remember – it is performed on an empty stomach so it is really only the salt water (along with excess bile and mucus) that is being expelled from the stomach and digestive tract. The relaxation after the process, allows the body to rest and will leave you feeling surprisingly light and refreshed.

I can’t say that I have tried vaman since returning from India, but it was definitely a mind opening (and cleansing) experience!

Veronica Joseph

Veronica Joseph

Veronica Joseph is an accredited yoga teacher who loves to share her yogic journey from travels in India, cleansing techniques, her favourite poses and their benefits and tips to remember when practising.

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