Vastra is the Sanskrit word for cloth.
Vastra Dhauti is the most commonly known practice of Dhauti and so even people unfamiliar with yoga might know the practice of swallowing a cloth.
How to perform Vastra Dhauti
Take a very soft cloth made of pure cotton with a width of six or seven centimeters and a length of six meters. One usually uses muslin because it is not coloured, very fine, not embroidered and not printed upon.
Take two or two and a half glasses of warm water in a bowl and add half a teaspoon of salt into it. Soak the cloth in this water until it is fully wet.
This technique should only be done with empty stomach.
Sit in Utkatasana or Malasana with a glass of drinking water next to you. Take a gulp of water to wet your throat and esophagus. Now take one end of the cloth, put it into your mouth and slowly start swallowing it. Whenever you feel difficulty, take a sip of water and continue. On the first day, only put the cloth about twenty centimeters down. The next day you can put it a bit further and so on until one day you can swallow the complete cloth except for half a meter which you need to keep out in able to pull it back out later.
For the complete practice of this Kriya, get up then, bend forward and practice Nauli. Come back up again and slowly pull out the cloth.
Sterilize the cloth after using it so that you can reuse it next time.
Benefits of Vastra Dhauti
The stomach is a very important part of the body as all input of food and beverages reaches there and is further processed there to finally reach our cells in the form of energy and life force. If our stomach is not clean, our complete system feels the consequences such as building of gas, bile, nausea, acidity, bad breath and bad-smelling sweat. There are many more such problems and for all of them, Vastra Dhauti is considered as a very good practice. It keeps the stomach clean and thus the system healthy.
With this practice, mucus is cleaned from the esophagus and stomach and thus Kapha related problems can be relieved.
By the cleansing of the stomach, toxins which were stuck there and which spread their unhealthy effects across the body get cleaned which can relieve skin disorders and acne.
Of course this cleansing of the stomach also helps the rest of the digestive system as well as other organs such as the liver and spleen.
With regular practice you may also experience that your breathing gets lighter and your respiratory system gets relief. Asthma attacks can get less.
Advice for Beginners
Please only try this technique under guidance and supervision of an experienced yoga teacher.
Start including the Nauli only when you have mastered the taking in and out of the cloth smoothly.
Tips and Help
Relax. This is one of the most important points of this exercise. Don’t hesitate and don’t think of Vastra Dhauti as something dirty or disgusting. It is cleansing and helps you.
Relaxing will thus reduce the urge to vomit. The more practice you have, the easier it will be.
If the cloth seems to get stuck when taking it out, relax and drink a bit water. This will make the cloth smoother and easier to come out.