In today’s post, I will talk about two powerful techniques that will take your practice to another level, and that can be performed daily.
These techniques are part of the Shatkriyas (or Shatkarmas), which are six purification techniques of Hatha Yoga, very important to release impurities and thus obtain better benefits with Asana, Pranayama and Meditation. In addition to cleaning and detoxing the physical body, these practices also help to purify and calm the mind during its process, as well as balance the three doshas (Kapha, Pitta and Vata).
From Sanskrit shat-karmas “six-actions” or shat-kriyas “six-cleansing”, kriyas are practices described by Yogi Swatmarama in Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, they are Netī, Dhautī, Naulī, Basti, Kapālabhātī, e Trāṭaka. During my Teacher Training (in 2019) I practised five of them and I will still talk more deeply about this subject. In this post, I want to focus on two techniques that can be performed every day to enhance your Yoga practice, they are the perfect start for the session and I strongly recommend this powerful habit.
Kapalabhati and Nauli Kriya are the techniques I practice daily in the morning before Asanas and Pranayamas as they should be performed on an empty stomach. This habit has been potentiating my practices, helping me to raise my energy and obtain better performances, not only in Yoga but also throughout my day, work and relationships.
KAPALABHATI | Energizes, warms up the body and stimulates brain cells.
Also considered a Pranayama, Kapalabhati is a good way to start any practice of Asanas since this exercise helps to warm up the body, expand lung capacity and increase focus on the present moment.
Known as “Breath of Fire” or “Skull-Shining Breath”, it is a breathing exercise, with countless benefits, from stimulation of the frontal lobe of the brain to oxygenation of the bloodstream, the digestive system, abdominal and the gastrointestinal organs, this exercise is incredibly powerful to improve your physiological and psychological state.
Through forced exhalation and passive inhalation, carbon dioxide is largely eliminated and impurities from the blood are thrown out. This clears the airways and releases trapped air at the bottom of the lungs, improving the circulation of prana (life energy force), and energizing the whole circulatory and respiratory systems.
In the video below I give a brief demonstration of Kapalabhati:
NAULI KRIYA |
The “belly dance” of the yogis
Nauli Kriya is an advanced technique for purifying and toning the entire abdominal region and vital organs. This practice basically consists of massaging the abdomen and stomach, contracting and turning the abdominal muscles.
The benefits of Nauli are many, mainly linked to digestive functions, helping to cure constipation, reducing obesity and activating the functions of the liver, spleen and other glands.
*People with high blood pressure, active ulcers, hernia complaints, during period or pregnancy, should not practise Nauli.
Reaching Nauli is not so simple and requires practice, so it is common to divide this technique into preparatory exercises.
In the video below I explain 5 steps to reach Nauli Kriya:
- Uddiyana Bandha | Empty your lungs, suck your belly in and retain the breath – this is a physical and energetic lift, bringing the energy to the upper chakras, chest, throat and brain. Before breathing again, relax your abdomen outwards, releasing the vacuum that Uddiyana creates.
- Agnisara | It is basically Uddiyana Bandha worked in a rhythmic way. Lifting and relaxing the belly in and out, several times within the same breath.
- Uddiyana + Abdominal contraction | with the mastery of Agnisara, you can practice the contraction of the rectus abdominal muscle while the belly is inside. As you can see in the video above, the muscles are concentrated in the centre of the abdomen.
- “Left & Right” | With step 3 mastered, play with your abdominal muscles, placing your weight on your right and left legs alternately. When you put the weight on one of your legs, the muscles that were concentrated in the centre of the abdomen move to the side, following the direction of your weight.
- Nauli Kriya | When these 4 exercises above are mastered, you have achieved Nauli Kriya, just coordinate the contraction of the abdominal muscles to make them “turn” from side to side, in waves in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. The mastery of this fifth step is also called Nauli Chalana
These two techniques have become sacred in my daily routine, and without a doubt, my whole day is enhanced when I practice early in the morning. The benefits go far beyond gaining willingness, physical energy, focus and mental clarity, but a feeling that “everything is working out” and my energy field is attracting good things.
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See you in the next posts. Gratitude and Namastê! 🙂
- This article was originally written in Portuguese by Marcelo Holistico and translated to English by Mariana Lourenço