An international yoga magazine has come under fire for featuring instructions about how to throw up for a flatter stomach.
Yoga Magazine published an item in its May 2015 issue in which the publication’s editor and certified yoga instructor Yogi Dr. Malik provided step-by-step details on toning the abs through a process and pose called Vyaghrasana, also referred to as the Tiger, which involves heavily drinking water and purging several times.
In the 5-step list, Malik explained how to execute the Tiger by gulping down several cups of water, bending your head over a bucket and using a two fingers to tickle the inside of the throat to trigger vomiting.
Step No. 3 reads, “Now drink at least three glasses of water even if you feel full. Push the fingers down the throat and vomit. Repeat this process until you are only vomiting water with no traces of leftover food.”
According to the Q&A item, a reader came across the Tiger in a 1959 yoga book and asked Malik if it was a legitimate technique. (Cosmopolitan captured the article in a screen grab here.)
Malik – who has practiced yoga for more than 35 years, according to his website – answered that yogis designed the system after observing the way a tiger deals with food, adding that it helps strengthen the digestive system while firming up the abdominal muscles.
His answer also noted that the activity was unsafe for children and pregnant women, though Malik does not have a medical degree.
Not all yogis were pleased with the magazine’s step-by-step guide. Readers took to social media to comment on the controversial topic, accusing the publication of promoting bulimia.
“Seems backwards for a yogi to tell me to ditch my Zen and go throw up,” one Twitter user wrote.
London-based columnist and yoga expert Genny Wilkinson-Priest addressed the story on Healthista.com. She wrote that she understood the article was attempting to answer a reader’s question but did not provide enough information.
“Yoga Magazine was attempting to explain the finer points of a centuries old yoga purification technique – The Tiger exercise – but failed to provide any historical context, or caution,” said Wilkinson-Priest.
Malik issued a response to the uproar on the magazine’s website.
In an article titled “Does Yoga Encourage Eating Disorders,” he wrote: “We haven’t, and will never promote any eating disorders in Yoga Magazine. We were not promoting bulimia, but answering a genuine reader question who had asked whether this exercise that he had found in a textbook dating back to the 1950s was true or not. We decided to answer this question as we felt this was rather interesting, and different to the usual standard questions we receive each month.”
He added that the Tiger exercise has been practiced for centuries and that it is a genuine yogic practice that can help “detoxify the body.”
A rep for the magazine did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.