Kriyas in yoga are cleansing techniques, ranging from the use of Neti pots through the nasal passage to Vasti the cleansing of colon. I was first introduced to Nauli in a detox flow class at my regular yoga studio, and only this particular teacher teaches this in detox classes. When she first demonstrated it, my face scrunched up because it looked so intimidating to have a hollow in your belly, and have it moving from side to side like waves. How is that even humanly possible?
To learn how to perform nauli kriya effectively, one must first be familiar with performing the 3 bandhas (locks) effectively, namely the Jalandhara (chin), Uddiyana (rising up) & Mula (root) Bandha, because in nauli, all 3 bandhas are engaged to their fullest. On top of it, one has to learn how to isolate & move the abdomen from side to side while holding the bandhas in place.
Nauli is great for detox, improving sluggish digestive tract issues, & constipation as it highly stimulates the intestines & keeps the internal system moving. It also helps to clear & awaken the brain, due to the fresh flow of oxygen into the body with each round of complete exhalation, intense engagement of all 3 bandhas & finally the much welcomed inhalation.
I have since been trying to incorporate it into my daily morning routine before the day starts to kickstart the day. Hopefully one day I will be able to practise it fully.
Kapalabhati is a highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise in which every tissue in the body is stimulated. When practised on a regular basis the face shines with good health and radiance due to the cleansing effect on the entire body. As one of the six kriyas (yogic cleansing practices), kapalabhati helps rid the body of waste materials allowing successful pranayama practice to follow.
To good to be true?? Let me explain how this practise influences individual body systems, organs and muscles; then the claim will be validated.
Respiratory system – Cleanses the nasal passages, bronchial tubes and lungs. How? In exhalation the abdominal muscles contract inward and upward, this action pushes up the diaphragm towards the thorax and the air is expelled out forcefully. With forceful exhalation the entire system is purified from the alveoli all the way through to the nose. Inhalation then comes very naturally, abdominal muscles are relaxed which in turn descends the diaphragm and the external intercostal muscles contract. This causes an increase in size in the thoracic cavity, the lungs expand, and the air pressure within decreases (in accordance with Boyle’s law). The air outside the body now has greater pressure then that inside the lungs, external air rushes in to supplement. From this we can see that kapalabhati practice can help strengthen intercostal muscles and increase both the lungs capacity, and it’s efficiency.
Cardiovascular system – During Kapalabhati we breathe at a significantly higher rate per minute then usual,
however the depth of the breath is not altered. This increases the rate of blood circulation within the body, oxygen therefore is taken up by the red blood cells at a faster rate. From here the blood flows through the aorta towards the tissue and cells of the body. The richness of the blood being delivered is heighten due to the system’s ability to eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide, allowing greater oxygen uptake to each red blood cell.
Nervous system– The sympathetic nervous system is initially stimulated when practicing kapalbhati. The brain receives more oxygen, which brings alertness, creativity, refreshment and a feeling of exhilaration. Waste materials or removed, clearing negative thoughts and unusable information.
Digestive system – The vigorous muscular contractions during kapalabhati alternately compress and release the abdomen giving it a thorough massage . Individual organs such as the stomach, liver and pancreas are stimulated. This stimulates the digestive system and increases digestion, absorption, peristaltic movement and defecation. The vigorous use of the abdominal muscles has the added benefit of making them stronger, thus improving posture. The strengthening also makes the muscles less likely to bulge outwards which they tend to do when they lose their vitality.
Integumentary system – Oxygen rich blood flows through the body at an increased rate, this means all cells will be positively effected. The skin cells are no exception; the more oxygen received by a skin cell; the more efficient it becomes. Skin develops resilience against dryness, dehydration, and excessive sagging.
Indeed it is ‘too good’, but very true! Practice Kapalabhati each morning, 15 pumps for 3 rounds initially; the proper assimilation and excretion will be established. Let the cleansing begin and enjoy a face that shines with good health and radiance!
Sutra Neti demonstration by Master Paalu Ramasamy from Tirisula Yoga during a 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training Course in Singapore. Sutra means thread and Neti means nasal cleansing. Neti is one of the six purification techniques known as Shat Kriya as documented in the literature, Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Neti helps to clean the nasal passage ways, removing excess mucus and stimulate the nerves to make the brain more alert.
Do not practice this on your own without guidance from a Yoga teacher.