Monthly Archives: May 2019

My Master Cleanse experience

Coralie’s master cleanse experience…

I participated in my first master cleanse (long intestinal wash) in September last year at Mangrove Mountain Ashram. Although I’d done the short wash many times over the years I had not managed to find the space and time for the long wash. In the short wash you drink 6 glasses of water and in the longer form you may drink up to twice that amount. The long wash also requires that you rest completely for at least for 4 or 5 days immediately after and to follow special dietary requirements for the month following the cleanse. It’s a big commitment which is why it is advisable to only do the practice under expert guidance and in a supportive, natural environment.

So I joined the dozen other people undertaking the cleanse and we surrendered ourselves to the care of the ashram for the week. The night before we ate a light dinner of vegetable soup, then to bed for an early night. The next morning we were met by Rishi Hridayananda,  the veteran of literally hundreds of these parties in both India and Australia.

With yoga mat laid out I made my way to the bar to drink my first 2 large glasses of lightly-salted, warm water which were served (and duly recorded) by Rishi’s helpful, friendly bar staff. I downed the first two glasses without much trouble and hit the mat to start 8 rounds of the first of asana in the 5-asana sequence. This particular sequence of asanas applies pressure to different parts of the gastro-intestinal tract, moving the water through your gut.

Starting with Tadasana, which opens the lower oesophageal sphincter, a few modest burps later (less modest with each round) followed by the swaying palm-tree, Tiryaka tadasana which washes the water around the stomach. The dynamic standing twist of Kati chakrasana is next and I’m sure I can feel the water moving through my small intestines. Face-down on the mat for the twisting cobra which applies pressure to the abdominal area and opens the ileo-saecal valve. Finally, Urdarakarshanasana which   applies pressure to the large intestines. Keeping a cracking pace is important so I’m straight back to the bar to repeat the process all over again.

I got to 10 glasses and was just about to start on the 5th sequence when I heard the call of nature and decided a trip to the toilet was in order…..right now.

The instruction was to drink enough so that you end up passing clear fluid. That achieved, I went to lie down in a specially warmed room for 20 minutes. My arrival time was recorded and I was reminded not to go to sleep lest I develop a headache. Twenty minutes later I get the nod to head to the kitchen for breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of a porridge made of rice and lentils (kitchari) with as much ghee as I wanted but no drinks. I could have had sips of warm water if necessary. I realized later that the porridge is really only a vehicle for the ghee to re-line the gut. Also, because there is no salt in the porridge, the raised level of sodium in the bloodstream from the salty water is drawn by osmosis out of the bloodstream (high concentration) into the porridge (low concentration).   Cool huh.

With breakfast done, we all went off to our rooms to rest and stay warm. Instinctively my body felt too vulnerable to the world in general and the cold in particular to undress for a shower, so I go to bed fully clothed with a hot-water bottle and snuggled-up knowing I have no-where to go and nothing to do but rest for the next 7 days.

Over the following few days I was surprised at my level of sensitivity to my environment: light, temperature, wind, noise. We were advised to protect ourselves from the elements because of this sensitivity, which Rishi described as being like a new-born babe. This applied to our gut too: rice and lentil porridge with ghee but no salt for 2 days. Steamed veggies were introduced on the third day with no raw food or fresh fruit for the remainder of the first week.

None of this was boring or a hard-ship. I felt like I was working with a brand-new set of taste buds and everything was new. I could really taste the food. My sense of smell, which is generally good, was exceptional after the cleanse.

I felt very nurtured by the daily yoga practices that included Trataka (steady gazing) that we performed on the Gayatri Yantra (a pictorial representation, in this case, of the Gayatri mantra), daily Yoga Nidra, and Kapalbhati (a cleansing pranayama). All of which helped with  also helped to support, ‘clean’ and re-organize.

Looking back, the Master Cleanse stands out as one of those times in my yoga journey that feels especially important. By the end of the week I felt like I was starting the rest of my life refreshed and anew.

Find out more about the master cleanse  in a conversation between Coralie and Rishi here.

Rishi Hridayananda will be hosting her next Salt-water party at Narasoma Retreat Centre in Ubud, Bali – 24-31 August 2019

More information & bookings 

A conversation with Rishi Hridayananda

Rishi Hridayananda began teaching the Shatkarmas when she was a swami living in an ashram in Kolkata, India. Every Sunday the ashram would host up to 500 people as she led them through laghoo (short-form intestinal wash), kunjal (regurgitating salty-water) and neti (washing nostrils). 40 years on and Rishi is still teaching these practices running monthly and twice-yearly Master Cleanse programmes. I spoke with her on the final day of my first week-long Master Cleanse.

Coralie: You are famous for your ‘salt-water parties’ complete with ‘bar-tenders’ who pour your salt-water. Why is this party atmosphere important?

Rishi: It’s a way of helping people loosen up and to let them know it’s OK to burp and fart. It’s OK to let go of these things. The belly must be relaxed when you do this practice. Tension tightens you up and makes the practice slower and longer. So I make it light like a party and we have fun.

Coralie: I was surprised at the fine line between the number of glasses of water required for laghoo (short-form intestinal wash) and doing the full shankarprakshalana (long-form intestinal wash).

Rishi: Actually, that is a very individual thing and will be influenced by a number of factors like your diet; whether you eat meat, drink alcohol and caffeine, as well as your personality. Some people ‘hang on’ to things at a mental or emotional level and may then find it more difficult to let go at this physical level. And that’s the thing about these practices. They work on all the koshas (layers of your being) and transform your personality.

Coralie: The week involved a lot of rest and introspection. I had lots of dreams and old memories popped up, things I hadn’t thought about for years.

Rishi: Yes, this can happen. It is important to be able to witness these happenings of the mind to allow them to be released as they arise.

 Coralie: Is this why we are doing trataka meditation (steady-gazing at an object) daily?

Rishi: That is a big part of it, but also it makes the eyes luminous and you become irresistible (Laughs).

Coralie: Some people had headaches after doing the practice. Is that just about coffee withdrawal?

Rishi: It could be caused by caffeine or sugar withdrawal. It’s a good idea that you do some preparation beforehand. For a few weeks before the Master Cleanse, start to gradually reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake so you don’t shock your body by suddenly stopping. This is why this practice is done in Spring and Autumn when the weather is mild. You must remember that you become very vulnerable to all things at this time. You’re like a baby so you wear a hat and sunglasses if you go out in the sun, rest is important and mouna (silence) especially when you’re eating. If you talk through your meal, that is where your energy is going, not into your digestion.

Coralie: Are there people who should not do Shankarprakshalana?

Rishi: Again, this is a very individual thing and this is where experience comes in. It’s important that I meet everyone before they do Shankarprakshalana. Everyone is different and it’s not until I meet them and talk to them that I have a sense of which practice they should or shouldn’t do. This is why you can’t learn these practices from a book. You need someone with experience keeping an eye on things.

Read about Coralie’s master cleanse experience here.

Rishi Hridayananda will be hosting her next Salt-water party at Narasoma Retreat Centre in Ubud, Bali – 24-31 August 2019

More information & bookings