It’s said that in order to become a fully fledged kundalini yoga teacher, you have to take on the nabhi kriya challenge: that is, do it for 40 days continuously.
Now nabhi kriya (instructions below) is no walk in the park. Think millions and millions of sweaty, grunty leg lifts and at least a gallon of sweat. The result? A stomach of steel and a continuous jet stream of energy that turbo powers you through the whole day and beyond. Nabhi kriya is the most energising core-builder out there.
With 10 minutes alternate leg raises, five minutes double leg raises and 15 minutes of navel lotus flowers, nabhi kriya is one challenging set. Start with doing three minutes for each part of the kriya every day, gradually building up to the full times.
I still incorporate nabhi kriya into my yoga practice about twice a week, sometimes working to the maximum times, sometimes halving them – both make me feel supersonic.
Cultivate the cosmic wow factor
Now I’m a big fan of the cosmic rush you get with most kriyas. But I found that unless I do nabhi kriya for the maximum times, it lacks that ‘wowee’ factor. To cultivate this when you’re doing a shorter version, I find that really powerful breathing, strong focus on inhaling ‘Sat’ and exhaling ‘Nam’, and keep my eyes completely fixed at my third eye throughout helps. In the full version of the kriya, I also find that my mind wanders off, but by staying totally present with the experience really helps cultivate the wow factor. Keep pulling your mind back to Sat Nam!
For wobbly, wheezey leg lifts
For my first few nabhi kriya attemps while I got used to the double leg lifts (which are pretty hardcore – unless you have a washboard for a stomach it’s likely you’ll wobble and wheeze your way through them at first), I shuffled my hands, palms down, under my buttocks to protect my lower spine. Make sure that you really engage your navel muscles and push your sacrum into the floor as you lift your legs. If you feel your lower spine arching off the floor, or sense a tweak there, bend your knees a little until you get your navel strength up. And you will! Keep going.
As soon as you have the navel strength to do so, bring your arms up to 90 degrees during your double leg lifts like it says in the instructions. It really affects the results of this kriya and I really feel the difference when I’m hugging my knees to my chest afterwards.
Pop out your moves
If you get the disconcerting hip-popping during your leg lifts, don’t fret – many of us experience the same thing. It’s called snapping hip syndrome (SHS), and is relatively common. It’s likely to be painless, in which case you have nothing to worry about. I had SHS at the start of my foray into nabhi kriya, and I got around it by experimenting with angles – moving my legs further apart or closer together to find an angle that avoided the popping. Eventually it went away – the hip alignment exercise in nabhi kriya helped.
Finally, during the final standing forward bend exercise, be sure to keep a micro-bend in your knees. I damaged my knee by overextending it when first doing this exercise. It’s a little more work to keep that microbend, and you sure will feel it in your glutes, but do it to protect your knees!
Although it might seem dauntingly impossible to practice the full nabhi kriya, I urge you to give it a go and power on through. The results of this kriya are truly breathtaking! Nabhi kriya has influenced so many aspects of my life… not only toning my navel, but also strengthening my personal boundaries, making me acutely aware of my physical presence and polishing up my confidence. I find that it’s a great kriya to practice when you’re feeling a little wobbly in life, and crave somewhere solid and strong to shelter in for a while. Nabhi kriya will help you find that place inside you – you’ll be unshakeable!
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Sat nam x