Nauli Kriya – Abdominal Massage in Hatha Yoga Shatkarma
Nauli or Nauli Kriya is a technique for abdominal massage in Hatha Yoga. Benefits of Nauli are tremendous. It is one of the six purification methods or Shatkarma in Hatha Yoga. Nauli practitioners can maintain good health and vitality. But mastering this technique is not easy for beginners. It may take anything from three months to one year to perfect it depending on your body condition, your zeal and your effort.
Nauli is a powerful technique which massages all the organs in the abdomen – the stomach, the liver, spleen, urinary bladder, pancreas, gall bladder and the intestines. This helps to maintain perfect health of the lower organs.
The key to perfecting Nauli is the ability to isolate the muscles called rectus abdominis muscle (or the “abs” muscle) in the abdomen. These muscles are found on either side of the abdomen, running vertically and parallel all the way from the lower ribs on the top to the pubic region at the bottom.
There are three basic practices in Nauli. When this muscle is isolated to the left it is called Vama Nauli and when it is isolated to the right it is called Dakshina Nauli. When both the left and right muscles are concentrated to the center, it is called Madhya Nauli. Apart from these, rotation of the muscles is also practiced.
Nauli must be learned in the presence of a qualified yoga instructor. The best time to do the practice is early morning when the stomach and the bowels are empty. After a heavy meal, one should wait for at least 5 to 6 hours before attempting this practice. Do not overdo the practice as it may cause indigestion and loose motion. In such cases, discontinue the practice for few days and take guidance from a yoga expert.
How to perform Madhya Nauli ?
- Stand with feet apart, knees bent and hands holding the thighs.
- Take a deep breath and then force the breath out with a hissing sound.
- Contract the belly inwards and upwards (towards the sternum). This is called Uddiyana Bandha. This is the base position for performing all the Nauli kriyas.
- Hold the breath and try to isolate the two ‘abs’ muscles (or rectus abdominis muscles) and force them towards the center. There is no breathing involved. The breath is stopped with the air taken out of the lungs (also called Bahya Kumbhaka in Yoga). This takes bit of effort in the beginning. The main difficulty is in isolating the rectus abdominis muscles. Then you have to concentrate and position it in the center for at least few seconds. This comes with practice.
- Now breathe in and release the position. Come to a fully standing position. Take a few deep natural breaths before trying again.
- Try this few times according to your capacity.
- Perfecting this may take from three months to a year for a beginner. Have patience. Once you master it, the benefits are great.
How to perform Vama Nauli ?
Take the same stance as in the earlier practice. Follow the steps 1 – 3 as mentioned in the Madhya Nauli practice.
- Once you forcefully breathe out and perform Bahya Kumbhaka, get ready to do Vama Nauli.
- In Vama Nauli only the left rectus abdominis muscles are isolated and pushed to the front. This will form a cavity in the right side and a muscle protrusion on the left side. Maintain this position for few seconds.
- Breathe in and release the position and come to a standing position.
- Take few deep breaths and repeat the process.
How to perform Dakshina Nauli ?
- The procedure is same as the earlier practice of Vama Nauli.
- The difference is instead of isolating the left abdominis muscles, the right abdominis muscles are flexed and isolated.
After mastering the three types of Nauli, one can also try rotating the abdominis muscles in the clockwise direction. Also try the same in the anti-clockwise direction. This looks like a churning motion of the ‘abs’ muscles from the left to right and from the right to left. This is a very powerful technique to tone the organs of the abdomen. The stomach, the intestines, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc. get a good massage. If practiced regularly, this ensures good health of all these organs.
Benefits of Nauli Kriya
- Practice of Nauli massages all the internal organs in the abdomen and keeps them healthy.
- Nauli relieves constipation.
- Nauli strengthens the functioning of the sexual organs