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Nauli – the main cleansing practice of Hatha yoga

Nauli is the practice of contracting and isolating the rectus abdominis muscles (commonly known, as the Abdominals or "abs"). In the "Gherand Samhita" book, this practice is called Lauliki. The root word Nala means "navel string", i.e. this means rectus abdominis. It also means a tubular vessel. The world Lauliki comes from the word Lola which means "to roll" or "mixing, shaking."

When the rectus abdominis muscles are rotating from left to right (counterclockwise) this is called Dakshina Nauli. When they are rotating from right to left (clockwise) this is Vama Nauli. When the muscles are pulled together and the middle group of muscles protrudes, it is Madhyama Nauli. Before attempting Nauli, you should be able to correctly perform Uddiyana Bandha.

The rectus abdominis are two long vertical muscles located in front of the abdomen, which run from the point under the center of the rib cage near the diaphragm to the pubic bone. Although you are manipulating of these muscles while doing Nauli, the external oblique and transverse abdominal muscles are also used.

At first you can practice Nauli by tilting the body forward with the hands on the thighs just above the knees. After you have mastered this, you can practice in a more erect position, with the hands placed on the upper thighs.

As says the 34th sloka of the book "Hatha Yoga Pradipika":
"Nauli is the main practice of purification in Hatha yoga. It kindles the digestive fire, removing indigestion, sluggish digestion and all disorders of the Doshas, and also it generates happiness."

Shatkarma and asanas stimulate digestion, but as the saying goes the best way to do it is Nauli. Nauli quickly tones abdominal muscles, nerves, intestines, reproduction and excretory organs. Actually every part of the internal human system is stimulated by this practice. While you are manipulating the abdominal muscles, all the internal organs are massaged and toned.

The practice of both asanas and pranayama definitely generate energy, but Nauli activates the system in a much shorter time and with greater force. Its effects are especially noticeable on the digestive and excretory systems. It generates heat in the body, stimulates digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients, thereby reducing emissions. It balances the endocrine system and helps to control the production of sex hormones.

Nauli is especially useful for alleviating constipation, indigestion, nervous diarrhea, hyperacidity, flatulence, depression, hormonal imbalances, sexual and urinary disorders, laziness, boredom, lack of energy and emotional disorders. With this practice, the person can control their appetite and sensual desires, and to strengthen their willpower. If this can be achieved, the person will definitely get deeper inner satisfaction.

However, not everyone can practice Nauli. It is not recommend for anyone who suffers from heart disease, hypertension, hernia, gastric and duodenal ulcers, or those who recover their health after any internal injuries or abdominal surgery.

Effects and indications for use of Nauli
• Improvement of the venous outflow (with varicose veins)
• Stimulation of the large intestine (atonic constipation)
• Strengthening of the respiratory muscles
• Stimulation of the peripheral circulation of the blood
• Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (sedation, relaxation)
• Lowering arterial pressure
• Improvement of the blood circulation in the pelvic organs
• Stimulation of the endocrine system (in case of hypofunction of pancreas and liver)
• Stimulation of excretory systems
• Сholeretic effect (dyskinesia of the bile ducts, gallbladder hypofunction)

Contraindications to Nauli
• monthlies
• pregnancy
• uterine fibroid (bleeding or growing)
• acute infectious diseases of the abdominal cavity and pelvis
• exacerbation of chronic digestive diseases (gastritis, ulcers)
• thromboembolic disease
• malignant tumors of any localization