Nauli is one of the Shatkarmas in Yogic Kriyas, which is an integral part of Hatha Yoga. This kriya uses the abdominal muscles to massage the organs in the abdomen and stomach region. It has immense health benefits, but the kriya is a bit difficult for beginners. It cannot be learnt quickly and requires spending time daily to learn. Even then it takes up to 3 months to learn the basics.
The first step to learn Nauli is to learn the technique to isolate the abdominal muscles which are known as rectus. In common parlance they are known as abs. The rectus muscles are found on either side of the abdomen from lower ribs to just below the navel. They are vertical muscles parallel to each other and can be controlled with some practice.
Nauli can be classified as being of three types:
(1) Madhya Nauli
(2) Vama Nauli
(3) Dakshina Nauli.
Before learning the technique of Nauli, Uddiyana bandha must be learnt. Uddiyana bandha is an abdominal lock, which is done by first emptying the lungs by forceful exhaling. Then the breath is held and the abdomen is pulled under the ribcage. Once this technique is learnt the process of Nauli becomes much easier.
When to perform Nauli kriya? Nauli is associated with contraction of the stomach muscles, and hence the best time to practice is early morning after bowels are clear. To be clear Nauli must never be practiced on a full stomach. If heavy meal has been eaten, Nauli can be practiced only after 6 hours when the food is completely digested.
How to perform Nauli?
- First stand with your legs apart, and then bend your knees. While bending the knees use your hands to hold the thigh.
- Exhale forcefully making a hissing sound, just like in Kapalabhati.
- Try to contract the belly inward and then upward. This is the base position for performing Nauli.
- Stop the breath and isolate the abdominal muscles (Left rectus muscles for Vama Nauli, Right ones for Dakshina Nauli and middle ones for Madhya Nauli). This might be difficult in the beginning but with practice and the right trainer it can be learnt.
- Then try and hold the position for a few seconds.
- Breathe in and release the kriya pose. Come back to a comfortable standing position.
- Try this as per personal capacity. Nauli does require some patience as it requires using involuntary muscles.
The Importance of Yoga Teacher – Just like a doctor is essential for medication, a well trained and certified Yoga teacher is a must for Nauli Kriya. Nauli is generally taught as one of the shat kriyas in traditional yoga schools, particularly in genuine Yoga teacher training schools in India.
The main benefits of Nauli are:
- Massage of internal organs keeps them healthy.
- Strengthens the stomach muscles and helps improve digestion capability.
- Strengthens libido and functioning of sexual organs.
Note: Nauli is contraction of stomach abs and should not be done without proper guidance. Overdoing can result in loose motions and/or injury. The kriya should be avoided if it causes pain.