Let us first of all briefly discuss the anatomy of the area. There are two parts: the anus proper and the rectum. The anus is comprised of two sphincters, which can be dilated and contracted at will. You can test this for yourself. These sphincter muscles seal the exit of the anus until the time of defecation. The anus is about two centimetres long, after which it merges with the rectum. The rectum continues upwards for a short distance to join the lower part of the descending colon.
If you insert your finger you will feel striations or projections. There are seven or eight of these, and are about one centimetre in height. There are also valves in this area. There is a rich supply of nerves and blood vessels. It is these blood vessels that so easily distend to form haemorrhoids. This region is directly supplied by nerves from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous svstems.
So how does moola shodhana help us? It acts as follows:
Stimulates the nerves and blood vessels this encourages the whole eliminative system to function efficiently.
Encourages regular and strain-free defecation.
Cleans the whole area of hard, encrusted and putrid waste matter.
Removes and prevents ailments such as constipation and haemorrhoids (piles).
Helps to change one’s attitude towards life. The wonder of a regular free motion leads to a more relaxed disposition. Such a simple practice, but it has far reaching effects.
Constipation is an ailment of sedentary modern life. It is caused by excessive worry and frustration and by insufficient exercise. It is caused by irregular toilet habits, straining, and stodgy food such as white bread, dumplings, etc. There are other causes but these are the main ones. Sedentary life leads to insufficient blood flow and nervous stimulation of specific areas of the body. The body processes lose their strength and efficiency. In the case of constipation, it is the region of the large intestine that suffers.
The elimination of constipation is important for it has repercussions on other parts of the body. When the flow of faeces is constant, then the rest of the digestive tract will also work more efficiently. This is because the entire tract functions as a whole, even though each organ has a different name. It is an integral system. If the process of defecation is normal, then the associated organs such as the liver, pancreas, etc. will also be able to work more easily and effectively. The whole system is less susceptible to ailments. We recommend that sufferers of constipation follow the suggestions previously given, and start to regularly practise moola shodhana1. It will only take a few minutes daily, yet the benefits will be vast.
Haemorrhoids is also a common ailment associated with constipation. It can arise directly from constipation. It also arises through coagulation of blood through bad circulation. This is related to lack of exercise and is similar to varicose veins. Near the end of the rectum, the numerous blood vessels group together to form bunches or plexuses. During constipation, hardened stool accumulates in the rectum, exerting a pressure on these vessels, which are very thin-walled. This causes the blood flow to slow down, stagnate and even congeal. This congealed blood (thrombi) forces the blood vessels to expand in order to allow some blood flow to take place. This distension occurs inwards towards the centre of the rectal cavity. It initiates a vicious circle. The dilated vessels expand against the hardened stool. If the stool moves it produces irritations, inflammation and pain in the vessels. Because there is a large amount of blood in this region, and because the walls of the stretched veins are even thinner than normal, bleeding occurs very easily and scabs tend to form. This is the trauma of haemorrhoids.
For haemorrhoids we specifically recommend inverted asanas to help drain the blood and also alternate contraction and relaxation of the anal muscles (ashwini mudra)2. Also fasting is recommended. We suggest that you practise moola shodhana regularly, taking special care, and using some form of lubrication. This will encourage smooth movement. Also this lubricant will prevent the area becoming too dry. This dryness, which is most common in old age, leads to irritation and clogging of faeces in the rectum. If this clogging becomes serious, then the whole system becomes totally blocked. This leads to ill health of the whole body. Therefore, we especially recommend moola shodhana for those people who suffer from constipation and haemorrhoids.
Moola shodhana is a simple yet effective technique. It is well worth your while to overcome all hesitations and doubt and experience the benefits for yourself.