1. Nauli

The Sanskrit Nauli comes from the root word ‘nala’ or ‘nali’, which means a tubular vessel, vein or nerve of the body; a reed or hollow stalk. The word ‘nala’ is also the Sanskrit for the rectus abdomen, (in the Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary it is literally defined as the ‘navel string’). It is also interesting to note that the Sanskrit word ‘nau’ means ‘ship’, for when Nauli is perfected then the abdominal muscles seems to flow like the rolling waves of the ocean. The muscles create the same wavelike motion produced by a ship. Nauli is the practice of contracting and isolating the rectums abdominal muscles. In the “Gheranda Samhita” it is known as ‘laulika’. Laulika comes from the word ‘Lola’ which means ‘to roll or ‘agitate’. When the rectus abdominal muscles are rotated from left to right (anticlock-wise), it is called ‘dakshina-nauli.’ When they are rotated from right to left (clock wise), it is vama-nauli’.When the muscles are pulled together and the middle group of muscles protrudes, it is ‘madhyama-nauli’. Before attempting Nauli you must be able to perform Uddiyana bandha properly. The rectus abdominal are the two long vertical muscles situated in front of the abdomen, which run under the center of the ribcage near the diaphragm to the pubic bone. Though these are the muscls you are manipulating in Nauli, the external oblique and traverse abdominal are also utilized. At first Nauli is practiced with the hands just above the knees and the body bent forward. Once this is perfected you can practice in a more erect position, with the hands placed on the upper thighs.
Technique 1:: Stage 1:
Stand with the feet 1½to 2 feet apart–bend the knees and rest the palms of the hands just above the knees, thumbs on the insides of the thighs and finders touching the outsides, or as shown in diagram–keep the head up and the eyes open–breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale quickly through
the mouth, slightly pursing the lips–perform Jalandhara bandha while maintaining bahiranga, (external) kumbhaka–suck the abdomen and stomach in by performing Uddiyana bandha–lift the right hand slightly off the knee, keeping all the pressure on the left hand and knee, but do not lean to
the left side–this will automatically isolate the rectus abdominal muscles on the left–release Uddiyana bandha–raise the head slowly–stand up and inhale slowly
–this is vama nauli–practice in the same way on the right side –keep the right hand resting above the knee and slightly lift the left hand to isolate the rectus abdominal muscles on the right–this is dakshinanauli–in between each round of nauli, release uddiyana first, then jalandhara–raise the head–stand erect and breathe in very slowly through the nose–take a few normal breathes before practising the nest round.
Stage 2:Practice vama or dakshina nauli as in stage 1–start to roll the muscles to the other side, but before they reach the opposite side, hold them in the middle–in order to roll the muscles, slowly bring the weight back onto the hand which was lifted from the knees–this is madhyama nauli.
Stage 3:Practice in the same way as for stages 1 and 2 but learn, to control the contraction of the muscles and to isolate the muscle groups without lifting the hands from the legs–first try by just releasing the pressure off the hand without moving it from the leg–gradually begin to control the practice so that
the hands remain fixed on the legs–practice with the hands on the thighs.
Technique 2:Stand in the same position as in technique 1–keep the hands on the legs above the knees through out the whole practice–practice vama nauli and then roll the muscles to the right and back to the left–continue rotating the muscles in a clockwise direction–this is known as ‘churning’–start by practising 3 times consecutively-then release–practice dakshina nauli in the same way, rotating the muscles anticlockwise–when this churning is perfected, practise it 3 times with vamanauli, then 3 times with dakshina nauli and release–when this is perfected you can increase to 10 and 90 rounds.
Technique 3: Practice techniques 1 and 2 in siddhasana or siddha yoni asana, with the buttocks raised slightly by a cushion–initially it will be difficult to control the muscles in the sitting position, so it is better to first
perfect the practice of nauli in the standing position.Nauli should only be practiced when the stomach is empty, i.e., at least 5 to 6 hours after meals. The best time to practice is early in the morning before break fast. If you feel any pain in the abdomen during nauli you should immediately stop the practice.Try the following day or when the pain subsides, but if it persists you should consult your teacher or doctor. Nauli should not be performed by those suffering from heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, gallstones, hernia or peptic or duodenal ulcer. Pregnant women should not practice. However, after child birth it is highly recommended in order to strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles and read just the position of the inner organs.
Yogic claims:According to Yogi Swatmarama
“Nauli is foremost of the hatha yoga practices. It kindles the digestive fire, removing indigestion, sluggish digestion and all disorders of the doshas, and brings about happiness”. Nauli quickly tones the abdominal muscles, nerves, intestines, reproductive, excretory and urinary organs. Every part of the internal system is stimulated by this practice. It balances the endocrine system and helps control the production of sex hormones. Nauli, is especially useful for alleviating constipation, indigestion, nervous diarrhoea, acidity, flatulence, depression,hormonal imbalances, sexual and urinary disorders, laziness, dullness, lack of energy and emotional disturbances. Through its practice one can control sensual desires and strengthen one’s willpower.

2. Yoga for Epileptic Seizure Control

The ancient Indian practice and philosophy of yoga is increasingly becoming a focal point of therapy and research in treating epileptic seizure disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 50 million people in the world have epilepsy. About 75 per cent of these are with seizure disorders, and they hardly receive any medical treatment. Yoga offers an ancient yet amazingly modern approach to treating seizures. The ancient Indian texts,
Vedas describe four types of epilepsy and nine disorders causing convulsions in children. As therapy, the physical discipline of yoga seeks to re-establish a balance (union) between those aspects of a person’s health that cause seizures. Many Illnesses, One Common Symptom Seizure disorder (or epilepsy) is one of the oldest recorded afflictions of humankind. “Epilepsy” is a word used to describe many illnesses with one common symptom-seizures that disrupt the normal activity of the central nervous system. There are dozens of
disorders, which may cause seizures. In the language of Ayurveda, epilepsy is called “Apasmara,”meaning loss of consciousness. Pranayama or Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing:As a person slips into a seizure state, s/he should
reflexively catch and hold their breath, as if startled or frightened. This causes changes in metabolism, blood flow, and oxygen levels in the brain. The practice of pranayama, i.e., controlled deep diaphragmatic breathing helps restore normal respiration, which can reduce the chances of going into a seizure or stop seizures before they become full blown. Asanas or Postures :The “
Asana” or “Yogasanas” aid in restoring balance to the body and its
metabolic systems. Practicing Asanas increase physical stamina and calm the nervous system. Asanas, used as a physical exercise alone, improve circulation, respiration, and concentration while decreasing the chances of having a seizure. Dhyana or Meditation Stress is a well-recognized trigger of seizure
activity. “Dhyana” or meditation soothes the mind as it heals the body. Meditation improves blood flow to the brain and slows the production of stress hormones. Meditation also increases the levels of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which keep the body’s nervous system calm. Practicing relaxation
techniques, such as yoga meditation, is well known as a definitive aid in seizure control.
Research into Yoga for Seizures.
In 1996, The Indian Journal of Medical Research published the results of a study on the effects of “Sahaja Yoga” practice on seizure control. The study was not large enough to be considered conclusive. However, its results were so promising, the study caught the attention of researchers in Europe and the North America. In this study, a group of patients with epilepsy practicing
“Sahaja Yoga” for six months experienced an 86 per cent decrease in their seizure frequency.