Shankhaprakshalana is mentioned in many of the old yogic texts. However, it is rarely given in detail, for it was intended for practice only under the direct guidance of a teacher or guru. It is totally impossible for one to understand and practise the full technique of shankha-prakshalana by reading traditional yogic texts. For example, one ofthe most detailed descriptions is given in the Gherand Samhita: "Drink water slowly up to the vocal cord. Move the water in the stomach. Then evacuate it." (1:17)
The text gives no more practical information, though it does give one more verse to extol the benefits of the practice. "Varisar is most secret. It purifies the body. One who perfects this with great effort acquires a divine body." (1:18)
The ancient yogis purposely recorded vague descriptions of this technique and many others. They wanted people to know that the technique existed, yet did not want people to practise without the direct guidance of an expert. There is a lot of sense in this, for if shankhaprakshalana and other yogic techniques are done incorrectly, they can cause more harm than good. Therefore, the ancient yogis were careful; they encouraged people to be interested, but made it necessary that they seek and find a guru before they could practise the technique. Actually we are breaking tradition here by publishing full details. But we do so with the explicit understanding that we prefer you to practise the technique of shankhaprakshalana under expert guidance. However, we have published details of this technique in order that those people who are unable to find a suitable teacher can practise by themselves. It is such a wonderful and beneficial method of cleansing the body that we would like it made available to as many people as possible and not limited to a few. But we emphasize, ifyou do practise alone, without tuition, that you must follow the instructions exactly as we have given them. If you don't do this, perhaps disregarding a seemingly inconsequential rule, then you may harm yourself. We have warned you. In the section on food restrictions, we have given an example of how a person can cause harm to himself by breaking a basic rule. Read it carefully.
Having said this, we urge you to try shankhaprakshalana for yourself, with or without guidance.
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