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Nauli Kriya in yoga is one of the six cleaning processes (Shatkriya) which involves isolation and the rapid movement of the muscles of the Abdomen. Unlike the other purificatory processes, It is an advanced yoga practice. Also, Medieval yoga texts call this practice Laukiki Kriya.
Nauli removes dyspepsia, increases appetite and digestion. It is like the Goddess of Creation. Also, it gives happiness and drives away all the disorders. It is an excellent Kriya in Hatha Yoga.Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1.34
Can it be learned easily and practiced by all? Or is it for adepts only?
Of course, this is the question that pops up in your mind when you come across a person demonstrating this Kriya.
This article answers this question and also explores its meaning, types, steps, and benefits.
Nauli Kriya Meaning
According to the Online Sanskrit dictionaries like Monier Williams, the Sanskrit word नौली means a self-penance. The dictionaries just refer to the Kriya itself. However, in some Indian vernacular languages like Marathi, the word means a plant grown for the hedge. In other words, it is a plant that guards. So also the Kriya guards the performer against the diseases. Hence this name.
Alternatively, conforming with Swami Satyananda of Bihar School of Yoga, it stems from the Sanskrit root Nala or Nali that means reed or hallow stalk and refers to the tubular vessel. Hence, the Sanskrit term Nala means abdominal muscle.
The following are the definitions given by medieval yoga texts.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika defines it as “the practice moving the belly, just as in the case of vomiting, from left to right in the bent posture of sitting on the toes with heels raised above the ground and palms resting on the floor.”
Gheranda Samhita defines it as “the practice of moving the stomach and intestines from one side to another with great force.”
Hatha Ratnavali defines it as “the practice of rotating the abdomen right to left and left to right while bending down the shoulders”.
Nauli Kriya Steps
How to do Nauli Kriya?
It is an advanced yoga practice. The beginners should learn this Kriya stage by stage. There are three main stages.
- Madhyama Nauli
- Vama Nauli
- Dakshina Nauli
After mastering these three stages, one can perform the full form of complete Kriya that involves the rotation of the three stages.
Let me describe each stage in detail.
The Sanskrit word Madhya means center. It is the contraction of the abdominal muscles to the center. The steps are given below.
- Stand with feet apart.
- Then, learn forward bending the knees slightly.
- Take a deep breath and perform Uddiyana Bandha while exhaling.
- At the end of the exhaling, retain the breath outside and perform Jalandhara Bandha as well.
- Contract and isolate the abdomen muscles to form a column that runs vertically in front of the abdomen.
- Strengthen and retain the contraction. Also, retain the breath outside as long as it is comfortable.
- Then, release Jalandhara Bandha and slowly inhale. While doing so relax the abdomen muscles.
- Relax the standing position and wait for the breathing comes to normal.
One should master this stage before proceeding to the next stage.
Vama means the left side. It is the contraction of the abdominal muscles to the left. Only after mastering the first stage, one should start practicing this stage.
- First, perform Madhyama Nauli.
- Then, move the vertical column of the muscles to the left. Contract the adjacent muscles to the fullest.
- Retain the contraction as long as possible. After that release the position as it was done before.
One should perfect this stage before proceeding to the next stage.
Dakshina means the right side. Obviously, it is contraction of the abdominal muscles to the right side. Only after perfecting the first two stages, one should start practicing this.
The steps are the same as that of the second stage except for the abdominal muscles column that is formed on the right side.
Churning or Rotation
After perfectly learning all the three stages in the order and manner mentioned above, one should practice this complete Kriya.
- First, start Vama Nauli, then Dakshina, and then back to Vama. Likewise, continue the cycle three times. The beginners may limit the number of cycles to their capacity.
- After that, start with Dakshina and perform three cycles.
- Finally, Perform Madhyama and complete the Kriya.
Precautions and Contraindications
- The Kriya should be performed only on empty stomach. The best time to practice is in the morning before any food or drink is taken.
- Pregnant ladies should avoid this practice.
- Before start learning this practice, it is advisable to have perfection in Agnisar Kriya, Uddiyana Bandha, and Jalandhara Bandha.
- Persons with health conditions like hernia, high blood pressure, cardiac issues, and disorders of internal organs should avoid this practice.
- Also, persons who have undergone surgery should not practice this Kriya.
Types of Nauli Kriya
Hatha yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita describe only one type. However, Hatha Ratnavali describes two types namely Bhäri or Bähya Nauli (external) and Antarä Nauli (internal).
According to Hatha Ratnavali, external Kriya is commonly practiced. The text says it belongs to the Gauda tradition, whereas Internal Kriya was propagated by the text author, Sundara Deva. According to this text, the internal practice involves the rotation of the abdomen muscles with Ida and Pingala. No further details are available in the text regarding the internal practice.
Another Hatha Yoga text Satkarma Samgraha also describes this Internal Kriya.
Nauli Kriya Benefits
- It massages and strengthens the organs and muscles of the abdomen.
- Also, it activates the Nabhi Chakra or Solar Plexus.
- It generates body heat which is good for the cold atmosphere.
- Besides, it alleviates all digestive disorders and boosts appetite and digestion.
- It helps to improve the blood supply to the peripheral part of the stomach by increasing the negative pressure in the abdomen cavity. (Dr. Dr. Sanjib Kumar Patra). Moreover, it boosts the secretions of the gastric juice including endocrine and exocrine functions of the pancreas.
Though it is one of the advanced practice that requires the mastery of many other yoga techniques, it is not impossible to learn and practice unless you have other reasons to avoid.