March 13, 2024 in Yoga

The Science of Cleansing: Benefits of Laghu Sankha Prakshalana



  1. Shankha prakshalana, a yogic technique, targets the cleansing of the digestive system and, hence, can be used for common disorders of the digestive system like constipation, flatulence, abdominal distention etc.  
  2. People with cardiac issues, uncontrolled hypertension, kidney diseases and at the extreme of ages should avoid the practice of purna shankha prakshalana. Laghu shankha prakshalana also can be taken up under supervision of a medical and yoga professional only for this population.  
  3. Laghu shankha prakshalana can be taken up at a frequency of about once in 10-15 days while purna shankha prakshalana can be done approximately four times in a year.  


Shankha Prakshalana is a technique used in hatha yoga to cleanse the digestive system by flushing out toxins from the body. The word shankha means “conch shell,” and prakshalana means “to cleanse thoroughly.”

The technique involves drinking salty water and performing a series of yoga postures that massage the digestive tract, which helps to eliminate waste and toxins from the body. The process is repeated several times until the water coming out of the body is clear, indicating that the digestive system has been thoroughly cleaned.

Shankha prakshalana is usually done under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher, as it can be intense and should be performed with care. It is generally recommended to do it on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning, and to rest afterward to allow the body to recover fully.

Laghu Shankha Prakshalana (LSP) and Purna Shankha Prakshalana (PSP) are two different variations of the shankha prakshalana technique for cleansing the digestive system.

Laghu Shankha Prakshalana is a shorter and milder version of the technique, which involves drinking only a small amount of saltwater (about one liter) and performing a series of five to seven yoga postures to cleanse the digestive tract. This variation is often recommended for beginners or for people who are not used to intense cleansing practices or for the patient population.

Purna Shankha Prakshalana, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive and intense version of the technique. It involves drinking a larger amount of saltwater (about five to six liters) and performing a longer series of yoga postures to thoroughly cleanse the entire digestive system. This variation is recommended for more experienced practitioners who are comfortable with fasting and intense cleansing practices. 

In this article we shall discuss LSP as practice of PSP is not common for therapeutic purposes. 



  1. Drink two to three glasses of warm saltwater, which should taste slightly salty. The ratio of salt to water should be approximately one tablespoon of salt to one liter of water.
  2. Perform a series of five to seven yoga postures that massage the digestive tract, such as tadasana, tiryaka tadasana, kati chakrasana, tiryaka bhujangasana, udarakarshanasana, and ardha-matsyendrasana.
  3. Drink more warm saltwater after each round of postures until the water coming out of the body is clear and free of impurities.



LSP can be done once every few weeks or as recommended by a qualified yoga teacher. It is not recommended to do it more frequently than this, as it can be intense and may disrupt the body’s natural digestive processes. PSP is generally not recommended beyond the frequency of four times in a year. 


  1. It is recommended to practice LSP on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning. 
  2. It is mandatory to rest (but not sleep) after the practice. Practice of yoga nidra and other yogic relaxation techniques are generally used immediately after the practice. 
  3. Khichdi with ghee is the food advised after the practice of LSP. It can be taken approximately one hour after the practice. For the first few hours, it is recommended to drink only warm water. Herbal tea is also used these days as a modern day option. After a few hours, you can gradually reintroduce solid food, starting with light and easily digestible foods such as vegetables, rice and soups. It is important to avoid heavy or spicy foods, meat, dairy, and processed foods for at least for 24 hours after the practice.


Here are some of the therapeutic benefits of this practice:


Improves digestion: LSP helps to remove accumulated toxins and waste products from the digestive system, improving digestion and overall gut health. This practice will probably impact the gut-brain axis and is a topic of modern research.  

Relieves constipation: The practice helps to stimulate peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions of the digestive muscles that move food through the digestive tract, helping to relieve constipation. Some other health issues which can benefit with the practice of LSP are irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, colitis and hyperacidity. 

Boosts energy levels: After the practice, many people report feeling lighter, more energized, and clearer in their minds. Though it is not common for some people to complain of tiredness after the practice. This generally happens when either practice has not been done efficiently and/or post practice norms have not been followed. But for the patient population the reasons may be different and clinical guidance may be needed.  

Reduces stress and anxiety: LSP can have a calming and soothing effect on the mind, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. This is appreciated only if the practice has been followed by proper relaxation.   

Helps with weight loss: The practice can help to eliminate excess water weight and bloating, making it a useful tool for weight loss.

Improves skin health: The elimination of toxins from the body may have a positive impact on the health and appearance of the skin, making it clearer and more radiant. 

Metabolic disorders: Practice of LSP can be useful for various metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension and dyslipidemia. The results of LSP in these disorders may remain short term if other necessary measures to deal with the ailment at target are not taken.   

Respiratory disorders: The practice may not have any direct impact on the respiratory system. But relief from digestive symptoms itself may result in efficient functioning of the respiratory system and may provide some benefit in the symptoms of respiratory disorders like asthma, COPD etc. 

Overall, Laghu Shankha Prakshalana can be a helpful practice for anyone experiencing digestive or related disorders. However, it is important to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher and to listen to your body to avoid overdoing it or causing harm. Additionally, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new practice, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.


LSP is generally a safe practice, but there are some potential adverse effects to be aware of. These include:

Dehydration: The practice can cause a significant loss of fluids, so it is important to ensure hydration.

Electrolyte imbalances: The practice can also cause a loss of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which can cause muscle cramps and other symptoms. It is important to replenish these electrolytes after the practice, either through food or supplements.

Fatigue: The practice can be physically demanding, and some people may experience fatigue or weakness afterward. It is important to rest and listen to your body if you experience these symptoms.

Digestive discomfort: Some people may experience mild digestive discomfort, such as bloating or gas, during or after the practice. This is usually temporary and should resolve on its own.

Excessive urination: Sometimes when practice has not been done properly the water may retain inside and it comes out through micturition for next several hours. This is also a temporary phenomenon and resolves on its own. It is particularly troublesome if it is associated with fatigue.

Injuries: Laghu Shankha Prakshalana involves specific movements that can cause injury if performed incorrectly or excessively. It is important to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher and to listen to your body to avoid overdoing it or causing harm.


Apart from the adverse-effects highlighted above, it is important to avoid or to be cautious while offering this practice to patients with: 

Severe gastrointestinal disorders: Individuals with severe gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or diverticulitis should avoid LSP as it can worsen the symptoms.

Hypertension: The practice involves drinking large amounts of water, which can raise blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Therefore, those with uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid this practice or and if BP is within control then it should be done under the supervision of a qualified yoga teacher.

Heart disease: Individuals with heart disease should avoid LSP or do it under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher, as the practice can have an impact on cardiac output. 

Kidney disease: Those with kidney disease should avoid LSP as it can cause an imbalance of electrolytes, which can further stress the kidneys.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women can practice LSP in case of specific needs under the supervision of a yoga trainer. Otherwise they should avoid LSP as the practice involves drinking large amounts of water and can cause undue strain on the body.

Diabetes: People with diabetes should be cautious while practicing LSP as it involves drinking large amounts of water, which can affect blood sugar levels.


Overall, LSP can be a helpful addition to a holistic wellness routine for those who are physically able to practice it safely and under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher. As with any new practice, it is important to listen to your body, be patient, and practice with mindfulness and respect for your individual needs and limitations.

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