On International Yoga Day 2018 Monika Halan, Consulting Editor MINT, wrote about her chronic back problem. She said,“I want to weigh in and tell you what is finally working for me. Fifteen years of a weak lower back with a young person’s disdain for rest or care came home to hurt hellishly five years ago-the back packed up. The final trigger was an overenthusiastic gym instructor at the local DDA facility. For the next three years, I went from orthopaedic to orthopaedic, from one physio intervention to another. Kati pasti (the wonderful Ayurvedic massage), reflexology, hot compress, cold compress, meditation, thinking good thoughts about the back and the world (I kid you not—somebody told me to do that), I’ve been there, done that.

This article tells you about Kati Basti.


Ayurveda is not only a healing science but is an art of living. It helps achieve longevity through its principles and is a source of guidance for every individual. The intent is to prevent diseases and maintain good health on a long-term basis.

Kati Basti is non-invasive Ayurveda therapy for backache. It is also good to keep the spine healthy. Generally, Basti treatment is used to promote elimination of the loosened Vata Dosha. Basti involves introducing medicinal substances such as herbal oils in liquid form on affected parts of the body until oil get absorbed through skin pores & becomes part of the tissue. Since Vata is mainly located in the colon and bones the oil is applied on those parts of the body.

In Kati Basti warm Medicated oil is kept on the affected part of the back region for a pre-stipulated time. This stimulates blood flow to the affected area and releases the blocked or vitiated Vata Dosha. This way it, to an extent, helps eliminate the root cause of back pain.


A backache is a musculoskeletal disorder. Due to a sedentary lifestyle and less physical activity backaches have become increasingly common.


According to this Indiatimes.com report, “A new series of papers by The Lancet has stated that the increase of disability due to lower back pain has increased so dramatically world over that it is now being called as the leading cause of disability worldwide. Lower back pain is estimated to be affecting 540 million people across the world at any given point in time, according to the study!” 


“In the UK, over the last 20 years, there has been a 12% increase in how likely a person is to experience disability as a result of low back pain; globally, the amount of year’s people live with low back pain disability has risen by 54% in 25 years.”


“In fact, a recent study revealed that 20 percent of the cases of lower back pain occur in the age group of 16 to 34 & it's more seen in women. 45% people neglect their pain for more than 7 week which results in delayed treatments.” 


Reasons for back pain could be many - weakness of spine muscles, tissues & nerves, strenuous activity, severe illness, accidental injury or psychological problems. The cause could also be structural deformity/postural deformity. A physician needs to examine the patient properly to find out exact cause and then decide the line of treatment. Painkillers and injections are short term solutions that patients soon get tired of.


Kati Basti is one of best options to treat all kinds of backaches. Kati refers to low back and Basti stands for retaining something inside, in this case medicated oil where it is absorbed by the tissues. “The procedure of applying heat to the sacral or lumbar region by retaining warm medicated oil within a specially formed frame in this area is popularly known as ‘Kati Basti’. This is form of giving fomentation to localized area. KB helps make the spine supple and flexible.

Therapeutic indications for Kati Basti are as follows – a acute or Chronic backache, Lumbar spondylosis, Cervical spondylosis, Degeneration of spine discs, Slip disc, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatic arthritis, Sciatica, Back spasms, Stenosis, Herniation of disc and Scoliosis or Lordosis.

Kati Basti Procedure:

Prone posture - Lying down on abdomen


Black gram or whole wheat flour dough is kept over the sacral or lumbar region or point of pain with a paste made of a special flour and water.


Warm oil should be poured inside the circle and kept there till it is warm. As it cools you can suck out the oil with the help of a spoon, cotton or small Turkish cloth and re-add warmed oil back into the circled area. Duration is 30 minutes. In the end, remove the dough carefully.


Next massage the area mildly followed by local steam over the lumbosacral region.This helps the oil penetrates deep into the muscle tissues, ligaments, tendons and bones of the back region.

Two precautions should be taken while taking Kati Basti treatment. During the procedure you must continue to breathe the natural way. Two, it is important to select oil as per an individual’s constitution and keep the oil temperature constant.

Medicated Oil commonly used for Kati Basti are - Mahanarayana oil is very useful. It not only penetrates into the tissues etc but helps sooth pain too. Nirgundi or Sesame oil used in mostly penetrating backache mainly in which Vatadosha is vitiated. It has an analgesic effect. Bala, Balasiddha oil is massaged to strengthen the spine. Chandan Balalaksadi oil is used for massage in muscular weakness & backache associated with pitta dosha involvement.

I have been treating patients for the last twelve to fifteen years. Patients come with symptoms of a backache. However, each & every patient has different history, cause & associate symptoms. Women have back pain mainly after their menopause periods. Unfortunately alternative therapy of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy are not as popular and not seen as the first treatment option. Since Ayurveda is preventive in nature I ask patients to undergo Kati Basti or any other Ayurveda therapy as a pro-active measure but there is invariably resistance to do so.


Kati Basti is very good even if you are not suffering from a backache. It strengthens the back and increases flexibility & longevity of spine. When combined with Yoga it becomes even more effective as experienced by Monika Halan of MINT.


To read all articles by Author 

To read Monika Halan article on the twin benefits of Kati Basti and Yoga 

Receive Site Updates