By Lisa Pecos
You don’t need to be an obsessive Instagrammer to have heard about this latest—and weirdest—Instagram trend. What’s been dubbed “alien yoga” has gone from social media to the news in recent weeks thanks to almost cringe-worthy photos and videos of yoga enthusiasts contorting their tummies into what looks like an alien torso in a bad sci-fi film.
It turns out that alien yoga is not only real, but has also been around since before asana yoga—the type of yoga that most people are familiar with. Nauli, which is what this type of yoga is actually called, is a yogic cleansing exercise that is believed to cleanse the internal organs while toning the abdominals. It consists of four movements:
- Uddiyana banda: This movement involves emptying your lungs and pulling your abdominal muscles up and under your ribcage.
- Madhyana nauli – This translates to “central nauli” and involves contracting the central abdominal muscles.
- Vama nauli – This is the isolated contraction of your left side abdominal muscles.
- Daskina nauli – This is the isolated contraction of your right side abdominal muscles.
If you’re feeling adventurous or looking to increase your Instagram followers by hopping on the alien yoga bandwagon, you might want to think twice. Though this advanced form of yoga has been around for centuries, it’s not for everyone. According to Nauli.org, this challenging movement can cause discomfort and even minor injury when not performed properly. They recommend learning from an experienced teacher and avoiding it entirely if you are:
- Have a hernia
- Have high blood pressure or heart disease
- Suffer from ulcers or other gastrointestinal issues
And as with any exercise, it’s always advisable to speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise program or activity.