Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 129 -
Nauli - Raising Kundalini with Your Abdominal Muscles (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
Videos: Uddiyana Bandha and Nauli (Audio)
Date: Sun Feb 29, 2004 4:53pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
In the lesson on yoni mudra kumbhaka, we
introduced a maneuver called uddiyana, which is lifting the abdomen using
the diaphragm. Sometimes uddiyana is called the "abdominal lift." You will
recall that uddiyana means, "to fly up." Uddiyana is a bit tricky while we
are doing breath retention inside, because the diaphragm does not go up as
far when our lungs are full of air. So it was suggested that we also
practice uddiyana outside yoni mudra kumbhaka. We do this by standing with
our feet spread a bit more than shoulder width apart with knees a bit bent,
and leaning forward enough to rest our hands on our knees. In this position,
we look like a shortstop in baseball, leaning forward with his hands on his
spread knees, intently waiting for the batter to hit the ball. Maybe
sometimes in cricket they stand this way too?
In yoga (not baseball!), once we are in this
"shortstop" position, we expel all the air from our lungs, and then lift our
diaphragm. If we do this with a bare midriff, we will see our abdomen go in
as the diaphragm is going up into the chest cavity. Most schools of yoga
teach this standing uddiyana as part of a regular routine of postures, and
this is a good time to practice it, during asanas before our pranayama and
meditation. Uddiyana has good health benefits. It also draws energy up from
our pelvic region, which is why it is part of yoni mudra kumbhaka, along
with the other mudras and bandhas we do, all aimed at awakening and moving
kundalini energy upward through the nervous system.
With uddiyana we use the abdomen in a fairly
static way, not doing anything dynamic with the abdominal muscles. We just
pull the abdomen in by lifting the diaphragm up. We can make uddiyana
dynamic by going up and down with the diaphragm. We'd like to jazz things up
even more, and put more stimulation on the kundalini energy in our pelvic
region. By doing so, we will also be setting the stage for an integrated
network of whole-body micro-movements that occur as ecstatic conductivity
rises and matures in our nervous system. Part of this integration will be an
automatic linkup between the movements in the abdomen and the movements in
the pelvic region, eventually giving us ecstatic micro-movements from the
root all the way up into the chest.
Of course, none of this
starts out as "micro-movements." We have to begin with "macro-movements,"
which is what the mudras and bandhas are when we first learn them. If we are
learning to play the violin, we have to master the long simple monotone
strokes before we can indulge in the short complex multitone ones. Like
that, the mudras and bandhas usually begin as pronounced and visible, and
then naturally refine over time to be subtle invisible automatic
manipulations deep within our increasingly ecstatic nervous system. Then, it
is the movement of ecstatic kundalini energy in our nervous system that
performs the micro-movements all over our body, and we become a witness to
an unending glorious display of luminous neuro-biology going on inside us.
The dynamic technique that takes us beyond
uddiyana is called "nauli," which means, "to churn," or "to twirl." We begin
in the standing "shortstop" position described above. Then we do uddiyana,
expelling all our air, and pull our diaphragm up, which pulls our abdomen
in. So there we are in uddiyana. Now we will do some other things to develop
nauli. Let's take it step-by-step.
Once in uddiyana, the
first thing we do is contract our abdominal muscles by pressing down on our
knees equally through both our arms. It is like doing a sit-up while we are
standing up. Only no sit-up movement happens because our arms and hands are
bracing our upper body on our knees. We are in uddiyana while we are doing
this, so our abdomen is still pulled in by our raised diaphragm. Now
something new is happening. Even though we are pulling our abdomen in with
our diaphragm, we will notice our abdominal muscles bulging out in a line,
up and down the center of our belly. This adds a great deal more suction on
the pelvic region. Try flexing your abdominal muscles a few times while in
uddiyana and see how they appear along the center line of your belly.
Summary: Stand like a shortstop, hands on knees.
Expel all your air. Lift your diaphragm. Notice your abdomen being pulled
in. Then pull your upper body (braced with hands on your knees) down toward
your knees with your abdominal muscles in a sit-up fashion. See the line of
abdominal muscles bulging in a line down the center of your belly.
See how easy it is? Feel the extra suction
pulling up on your pelvic region? Great! Now you've got it. Now flex those
abdominal muscles a few times. Get a rhythm going, doing a flex every few
seconds. Find a rhythm that feels good for you. As you do this a few more
times, you may find that flexing the abdominal muscle fits with whatever
level of mulabandha/asvini you have become familiar with. Let them go
together if you want. In time, they will become integrated together on a
subtle neurological level and you will not be able to do one without being
inclined to do the other. That kind of natural integration will happen with
all the mudras and bandhas in the body. But more on that later.
So here you are, flexing
away. Maybe you are feeling some nice energy coming up into your belly, and
maybe beyond into your chest, and even all the way up into your head. The
abdominals are very powerful for raising kundalini like that.
But, you know, this is not nauli yet. We haven't
started "twirling" those muscles yet. The key to twirling is separating the
flexing of our left abdominal muscle from the flexing of our right one, and
then coordinating the two flexings into a twirling motion. We have two long
abdominal muscles in there. One goes up and down the right side of our
belly, and the other one goes up and down the left side. How do we separate
them? It isn't very difficult to learn how, thanks to our shortstop
So, set up in the shortstop position for uddiyana
and nauli, just as before. This time, instead of contracting down with the
abdominals with equal pressure through both arms on to both knees, just
contract down through one arm on to one knee. Take your pick on which one.
Once in uddiyana, just contract with your abdomen down on to one knee through
one arm. What happens? Did you see one side of your abdominal muscles flex
out, and the other side stay in? If so, you've got it right. Now switch to
the other side. Flex your abdomen with all the pressure going to the other
knee through the other arm. Did the other side of your abdominal muscles
flex out? Good. Now try going back and forth, with the same rhythm you used
when you were doing both sides at the same time. Only this time, it will be
left side, right side, left side, right side, and so on.
Now you are drawing up on the pelvic region on
alternating sides. This will be more stimulating on the kundalini energy.
Are you ready to go for the whole thing? Let's see if we can twirl those
Assuming you have the abdominal muscles going
smoothly back and forth from left to right, there is just one more step to
have full nauli going. Instead of going in and out with the muscles from
left to right one at a time, try doing a "sweep" across from left to right.
This means that while your left abdominal is flexed out, you come up with
the right one before the left one is releasing, so both are flexed in the
middle for an instant. Then as you go more to the right side flex, the left
will release. The effect is that you see one continuous movement of your
abdominal muscles going across your belly
left to right - a sweep. Then as your right muscle releases going back in,
the left one is coming back up. Then across you go again from left side
flexed to right side flexed. And around and around you go, twirling left to
right, left to right, again and again. You can sense and regulate the
twirling by feeling the shift in pressure going through your arms from left
knee to right knee as the
flexing of your abdominal muscles shifts from the left side to the right
side, and then back.
It is training to
develop a habit we are doing in this early stage of nauli. It will be
"clunky" in the beginning, no doubt. But don't give up. You will get the
hang of it. First learn it going one way. We started twirling the muscles
out from left to right. Once you have that going well, then get it going the
other way, from right to left. Once you are able to twirl either way, you
will be on your way to being a nauli expert.
With some practice you
will be able to twirl your abdominal muscles like a jump rope, with
delicious effects on the energy in your pelvic region. Kundalini will not be
able resist coming up with all that stimulation caressing her.
We don't do this macro-movement nauli during our
sitting practices. We do it before we sit to do pranayama and meditation. It
can be part of our asanas, included when we do uddiyana in our routine. Or,
if we are not in the habit of doing asanas, we can do nauli by itself before
we sit for practices. Doing nauli before our sitting practices awakens our
nervous system in ways that are very supportive of pranayama, yoni mudra
kumbhaka, and meditation.
Try and do at least
twenty rotations of nauli in each direction before every session of
pranayama and meditation. If you are running out of breath while doing nauli,
don't strain. Just pause, take a deep breath or two, exhale again, and
continue. As you become familiar with nauli, you will also be able to do it
less formally in situations that do not involve the shortstop position. For
example, once you have the habit of separate control of the two abdominal
muscles, it will become easy to do while lying on your back relaxing, and,
eventually, while sitting up. In time, nauli will refine to the point where
you will be able to do it subtly with no visible motion just about anywhere,
with wonderful ecstatic effects. This kind of nauli goes very nicely with
subtle movements of mulabandha/asvini, while in kechari. These ecstatic
exercises can be done in public without anyone knowing you are doing them,
except for the glow, of course.
We will be using a
subtle version of nauli when we move on to dynamic jalandhara (the "chin
pump"), which involves the upper body to a much greater extent in the
stimulation of kundalini energy between the heart to the head.
Nauli is a powerful practice with far reaching
effects. We did not include the normal precautions at the beginning of this
lesson because nauli is not usually a practice that can throw us immediately
into trouble with kundalini energy. It goes without saying that if you have
any health problems that could be aggravated by nauli, then you should
refrain from doing it. Also, if nauli is practiced over a period of time
without the benefit of
the global purification practices of meditation
and spinal breathing, it could lead to energy imbalances in the body. It is
beneficial to have good overall purification practices established before
taking on any practices that target particular areas of the body for
kundalini stimulation. This is why we started in the beginning of the
lessons with meditation and spinal breathing, and continue to call them the
core advanced yoga practices -- the prerequisites for everything else we
If you want, you can do nauli before learning
other advanced yoga practices beyond meditation and spinal breathing. Those
two would be the recommended minimum prerequisites for nauli.
Always make sure you are smooth with your
practices before taking on new ones. It is very important to maintain a
stable platform of practices that you can sustain over the long run. When
you know you are ready, you can methodically add on new practices as your
bhakti calls you to more.
The guru is in you.
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For instructions on
nauli, see the Asanas,
Mudras and Bandas book and the
AYP Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book,
and AYP Plus.
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