While nauli is primarily a cleansing technique, it’s use within asana practice cannot be overlooked. While many Western yoga disciplines downplay, or even totally ignore nauli, advanced asana practitioners inevitably end up using nauli’s muscular actions within their practice anyway. For example, many yoga postures where one of the instructions is to “move the abdomen to the left [or right],” in order to align the chest with the leg, requires use of the same abdominal muscles used in the right and left side of nauli engagement.
Uddiyana Bandha, the precursor to nauli, is used extensively in asana practice.
In Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ definitive treatise on the Ashtanga yoga system, Yoga Mala, he mentions the use of nauli in his description of the posture kukkutasana . He writes:
“When in the state of this asana, one should do rechaka [exhalation] and puraka [inhalation] deeply while keeping the chest, waist, and back completely straight. Then, with the heels pressing on either side of the navel, and keeping the head lifted, one should do uddiyana bandha and nauli.”
In this video, Lino Miele demonstrates nauli in kukkutasana:
Other postures also lend themselves to nauli. Adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) is another posture where nauli can be performed to bring greater awareness to your core.
In this video from 1938, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, primary teacher of Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar (among others), is shown doing central nauli in virasana (time index 4:13):
Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi. “Yoga Mala”. North Point Press, 1999. Page. 93.