Instagramers are only just discovering a niche yoga move that’s rarely taught in class simply because it’s too damn difficult: The move, “nauli,” is an abdominal exercise that involves isolating muscle contractions in your core in a circular, rolling motion:
As you can see, the movements can look a little jarring. It’s one reason why people can’t even with the #nauli videos circulating on Instagram since @Yoga regrammed a particularly mesmerizing one this week:
In the post’s comments section, many followers chimed in to wonder, “WTF?” or ask whether the woman featured has organs. (She does.) The yogi, Aubry Wiltcher, a 29-year-old yoga instructor from San Diego, California, has been practicing nauli for eight years and says it’s “nothing short of a blissful massage for your internal organs.”
See, nauli itself is said to be medicinal: If you can master it, it can alleviate constipation and eliminate other digestive problems the ~*nAtUrAl*~ way, according to Nauli.org, a non-profit site dedicated to educating people on the practice. Advocates also say the nauli promotes happiness — good news for people who can’t find joy in any yoga pose besides shavasana (the one where you lie face up on the floor and pretend not to be sleeping ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).
To try nauli for yourself — and good luck to you, since it takes perseverance and patience — begin on an empty stomach, ideally first thing in the morning or a few hours after your last meal. Stand with your feet hips-width apart, toes facing forward, and bend your knees slightly as you hinge forward from the waist (place your hands on your thighs for support). Exhale until you feel like the last drop of air in your lungs is 100 percent outta there, then suck in your abs toward your spine. Without inhaling, engage the center of your abdomen, isolating the contraction.
Next, isolate the contraction on the left side of your abdomen. (It’s easier said than done, but visualization and shifting your weight to the palm on the side you’re contracting can help). Imagine that contraction moving over to your right side, and isolate it there.
Once you’ve got all that down pat, loop the moves together so the isolated contraction flows in a circular motion. It might take work to build your stamina to hold your breath throughout a whole rotation — meaning, a contraction from your left to right sides, and then back to your left again — but practice can help you work up to multiple rotations on every exhale. (In the meantime, be careful: If you find yourself gasping for air, you’re holding your breath too long.)
While mastering this move does require dedication, Aubry says it’s a myth that only super skinny people can take part. “With time and patience, it’s accessible by all body types, I promise,” she says. (Still, don’t try it while you’re pregnant — safety first!)
And if all this just sounds like too much work? You can always take the easy way out by watching seasoned yogis do their thing. (Does dropping your jaw count as exercise?!)
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