Yoga has enormous benefits through different methods that can naturally improve the overall wellness of an individual. One of them is kriya or cleansing exercises. Nauli kriya is a cleansing exercise that stimulates the digestive system. It came from the Sanskrit word nau which means “boat” and li which means “to cling to.” Though Nauli kriya is not often taught in modern Hatha Yoga classes, it can be taught to almost everyone under the supervision of an experienced Yoga teacher.
It kicks toxins, mucus, phlegm and excess fat out of the body. This is also a great way to increase metabolism and a relief to constipation and indigestion. Nauli kriya also helps improve the reproductive system. During the practice, internal organs (such as liver, urinary bladder, stomach, intestines, and pancreas) are massaged and the abdominal muscles are activated thus improving the digestive tract’s overall health.
Let the Waves Cleanse You!
This practice involves a technique of moving the abdominal muscles and organs vertically and laterally in a wavy motion. There are three main types of Nauli. Vama Nauli is the practice where the abdominal muscles are directed to the left. Dakshina Nauli is when the muscles are directed to the right. Madhya Nauli is when all the muscles are centralized from both the left and right. Isolating rectus abdominis or abs can be very challenging at the beginning. But when all of these Nauli(s) are mastered, it can be very beneficial to the physical body.
The Basic Foundation
Begin by standing with feet hip-width apart, knees are slightly bent and hands are resting on your thighs. Inhale deeply and exhale forcefully while creating a hissing sound. Perform Uddiyana Bandha by contracting the belly towards the sternum. Forcefully hold your breath outside (Bahya Kumbhaka). This is how all Nauli kriya begins.
To Perform Vama Nauli
Begin by performing Uddiyana Bandha and Bahya Kumbhaka. The left abdominal muscles are isolated and pushed to the front. This movement will cause a hollow space on the right side of the belly while creating a hump on the left. Maintain this position for 5-10 seconds. Breathe in and exhale back to standing position to release.
To Perform Dakshina Nauli
After doing Uddiyana Bandha and Bahya Kumbhaka, isolate and push the right abdominal muscles to the front. Stay in this position for a few seconds.
To Perform Madhya Nauli
Start by doing Uddiyana Bandha. Remember to keep your breath outside by doing Bahya Kumbhaka. This means that the breath is held while isolating and pushing both the left and right abdominal muscles to the front. Hold this position for a few moments and inhale as you return to a standing position to release.
Performing this cleansing exercises is best done when waking up while the stomach is empty. Wait 5-6 hours after a meal before doing the practice. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and rest. Remember that it is best to do Nauli kriya under a guidance of an experienced Yoga instructor. Also, check out this high waist shapewear that will make your exercises even more comfortable!
Pregnant women and individuals who suffer from hypertension, ulcer, heart disease or any digestive or gastrointestinal disorders are advised to refrain from doing Nauli Kriya. Seek your physician’s opinion before getting into the practice. Be patient. It can take months, or even years, to fully master this cleansing exercise. Remember to practice with an open heart and good intentions. Cleanse naturally while developing awareness and having fun!