Nauli – an Abdominal Exercise from Yoga

Nauli is an advanced Hatha-yoga technique that had been considered confidential for a long time and intended only for initiatesNauli is an advanced Hatha-yoga technique that had been considered confidential for a long time and intended only for initiates

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Which Muscles Are Used?

This is what the abdomen looks like during the exerciseThis is what the abdomen looks like during the exercise

The effectiveness of some exercises from yogic gymnastics is so high that they are eagerly used by the athletes of various sports. Yogis believe that nauli practice improves heart health, function of the blood vessels, digestive and reproductive system.

Besides, it provides a natural deep massage of all internal organs along with strengthening of the core muscles. The exercise targets the abdominal muscles that are shaped like a pair of dense muscle straps.

The abdominal rectus muscles are called "nala" in Sanskrit. They run down the stomach and serve to protect the organs of the abdominal cavity. The muscles start near the middle of the sternum and attach to the pubic bone.

These two muscles perform wavy movements during Nauli. For this reason, the practice is also called "Laulika" (the word "lola" from Sanskrit means "stirring", "rotation"). The proper technique is the result of long practice – even if you have strong six-pack abs, you can hardly master those rotational movements fast.

Nauli Variations

Variation of Nauli Description
Dakshina Nauli Left-to-right movement of the muscles (or isolated contraction of the right rectus abdominis muscle)
Vama Nauli Right-to-left wavy clockwise rotation, or isolated contraction of the left part of the central abdominal muscles
Madhyama Nauli Static practice that involves isolated contraction of the left and right side of the abdomen and arrangement of the central muscles in a vertical line
Nauli Kriya (dynamic option) The most advanced variation of practice. The wave-like actions are performed across the stomach

Exercise Technique

Preparation

Yogis claim that Uddiyana-Bandha is the first step you need to take when learning to perform Nauli. For this, you should sit down and get into a comfortable position, making sure to keep your back straight. Take in a deep breath and quickly exhale. Then tilt your head down and pull your stomach in and up.

Hold your breath for at least 10–20 seconds and then relax your stomach, raise your head up, and take in the next breath. You should begin with three breathing cycles with two-minute breaks between them.

You may feel slightly dizzy at the beginning of practicingYou may feel slightly dizzy at the beginning of practicing

Once you can hold your breath for 20 seconds or more in Uddiyana-Bandha, you can proceed to mastering the Nauli technique. Note that both techniques should be performed before meal in the morning and only if you have no problems in the functioning of the internal organs.

Mastering Madhyama Nauli

Master the practice from the easiest variation to the hardest one. Do it gradually, step by step, without skipping the stagesMaster the practice from the easiest variation to the hardest one. Do it gradually, step by step, without skipping the stages

  • You should start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your torso slightly bent forward, your hands on the thighs just above the knees;
  • Press the palms of your hands against the thighs and try to isolate the abdominal muscles and force them towards the center, so that the middle part of your abs protruded forward;
  • Hold the position until you need to take the next breath in;
  • Repeat the exercise in a few minutes, after you calm your breathing.

Practicing Dakshina and Vama Nauli

After you have mastered the previous kind of laulika, you can proceed to learning its right-and left-side variations:

  • Get into a comfortable semi-squatting position, placing your feet 50–100 cm apart. Place your hands on your thighs just above the knees;
  • Slowly inhale through your nose, then put your lips in a tubule, and powerfully exhale through your mouth. Hold your breath, press your chin to your chest, and lock your throat muscles;
  • Pull your stomach in and perform Uddiyana-Bandha;
  • Shift your bodyweight to your right leg and lift your left palm up. This will help your body push the right rectus abdominis muscles to the front and create a wavy movement (you will do it almost automatically);
  • Slowly release Uddiyana-Bandha, return to the standing position, lift your head, and take few deep breaths;
  • Perform the same for the other side.

Dynamic Nauli

Once you have mastered the static variation of the exercise, you can try to move the wave across the stomach and create the rolling movement of the abdominal muscles. To achieve that, you should alternately press and release your hands. Beginners should perform no more than three waves within one set and finish the practice with a right-to-left wave.

This requirement arises from the anatomical structure of the human body (the direction of the food movement in the gut).

Tips and Common Mistakes

During the process of mastering the practice, you can use more comfortable positions, for example, kneeling with your buttocks on the heels, or sitting in a cross-legged pose. During the breathing cycle, remember to keep a straight posture and avoid moving your torso to the sides.

You can gradually increase the number of the waves in dynamic nauli: the advanced yogis can perform 108 wavy movements within one breathing cycle. In dynamic variation, there should be the same number of the movements to the left and to the right.

Contraindications

First of all, let’s find out who should not perform this exercise:

  1. Children until they reach puberty;
  2. Women during their period, pregnancy, and within a few months after childbirth;
  3. People suffering from acute gastrointestinal diseases (ulcer, cancer, after recent abdominal surgery, etc.);
  4. Tuberculosis patients;
  5. Hypertensive patients and people with heart problems;
  6. People suffering from hernia should also avoid practicing this asana.

Interesting Facts

Regular practice can help you get healthierRegular practice can help you get healthier

Nauli is the most powerful cleansing technique that enhances the effectiveness of any other yoga practice.

The rotational movements of the abdominal muscles not only provide a soft massage of the internal organs, but also stimulate the excretory and reproductive system.

This helps cope with the functional bowel disorders, excessive stomach acid, hormonal disorders, and even depression.

As an extra bonus, nauli practice helps improve the pancreatic function, so this yoga technique is recommended for the diabetic patients.

It is believed that regular nauli practice helps strengthen the spirit, get rid of anxiety and stress, and get healthier and happier.

Conclusion

Proper nauli technique not only strengthens your abdominal muscles, but also provides enormous benefit to your body. To master nauli, you should remember a few important things:

  1. Maintain the straight position of your back throughout the exercise;
  2. Review the contraindications;
  3. Study each exercise variation step by step;
  4. Gradually increase the number of reps within the set and breath-holding time;
  5. The first step on the way to success is mastering the Uddiyana-Bandha technique;
  6. Nauli can rescue from depression, diarrhea, and digestive disorders;
  7. Practicing nauli can be more beneficial for your body and mind, if you understand its philosophy.

Shesternenko Alexander
Fitness trainer, group instructor, dietitian
  • Counsels and educates on proper nutrition principles, body weight correction, and adjustment of individual diets and diets during pregnancy;
  • Develops meal plans that meet nutrition goals and dietary needs for obese and underweight people;
  • Specializes in modern functional testing techniques in sports, athletic recovery, sports supplementation, pharmacological support, and actual women's problems in sports;
  • On the website, provides analysis of different dietary schemes, reviews modern training techniques and effective exercises.

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