One traditional method of doing basti is to insert a thin bamboo tube into the anus. This allows air or water to be sucked easily into the colon via the anus. The boon of modern technology means that a thin plastic tube can also be used. In fact plastic is preferable to bamboo since it is smoother and more flexible. Bamboo could be a little harsh on the sphincter muscles of the anus.
If you are sitting or standing in water then the tube can be ten to twenty centimetres long. It should be inserted into the anus by gently opening up the anal sphincters with your fingers. Don’t strain. As you insert your fingers and the tube you will find that muscles automatically expand. This makes insertion of the tube easy and prevents injury to the anus.
When the tube is in place you should practise basti. After the water or air has been drawn into the colon, then the protruding end of the tube should be blocked with one linger; this will retain the water or air inside the colon.
If you wish you can use a tube; it is one method of doing basti. However, the tube must be smooth; if not then it is very easy to harm the delicate lining of the anus. Also one must be gentle when inserting the tube. The use of a tube is a good method, if you take care. However, the method that we generally recommend is to merely open the anal sphincters with the fingers. This is much safer and much easier. It is this method that we have described.
The use of a tube has one big advantage in connection with jala basti: water can be sucked up into the colon from a small container. That is, one can practise basti without standing in a river or a deep bath.
Gravity feed method
The most common method of using an enema is gravity feed. Water or whatever is being used as enema is kept in a container above the level of the anus. A thin tube feeds the water from the container directly into the anus. The water flows directly into the colon under the force of gravity; no effort is necessary. Special tubes and containers can be obtained from a chemist shop.
The gravity feed method is very similar to basti and is certainly much easier. Basti requires some degree of muscular control. If a person has severe constipation and cannot do basti, we recommend that they adopt the gravity feed method. However, we suggest that he or she tries to master basti since it has the following advantages:
- Develops strength and control of the abdominal muscles. This is necessary in order to suck the air or water into the bowels. This alone helps to improve the efficiency and health of the abdominal organs.
- Simultaneously massages the inner organs and tones up the nerves.
- Requires little or no equipment. If you can do basti (with or without a tube) then do it in preference to a gravity feed enema. If you cannot do basti then use gravity feed, but you should gradually aim to develop more control over the abdominal muscles in order to practise basti in the future. We recommend that you practise yogic techniques such as bhastrika pranayama4, uddiyana bandha5 and asanas in general.