In Sanskrit “Pawan” means “wind” or “prana”; “mukta” means “release” and “asana” means “pose”. Therefore, Pawanmuktasana is a group of asanas that is aimed at removing any blockages preventing the free flow of energy in the body and mind. These series can be performed by a beginner or advanced, young and elderly. They should not be ignored just because the practices are simple, gentle and comfortable.
Sometimes, due to bad posture, disturbed bodily functions, psychological or emotional problems or an unbalanced lifestyle, the energy becomes blocked. This initially results in stiffness, muscular tension, lack of proper blood flow and minor functional defects. However, if these blockages become chronic, a limb, joint or physical organ may start malfunctioning. Regular practice of pawanmuktasana removes energy blockages from the body and prevents new ones from forming. In this way, it promotes total health, regulating and stabilizing the flow of energy throughout the body.
Pawanmuktasana is divided into three distinct groups of asanas: the anti-rheumatic group, the digestive/abdominal group and the shakti bandha group to release energy blocks. All three groups supplement each other, stimulating and encouraging a free flow of energy throughout the body.
Sometimes if you miss a yoga class, you feel like you could really do with a gentle yet efficient workout at home. Or after a day in the office, working sat at the desk most of the time, you feel like you need to relax the stiffness and muscular tension. For this purpose I am sharing part of the Pawanmuktasana Part 1 – Anti-rheumatic group. Here we look at the lower body joint moments.
It is aimed at:
– promoting health overall
– improving coordination, self-awareness and self-confidence.
It is excellent for those with:
– high blood pressure
– heart problems
– or other ailments where vigorous physical exercise is not advised.
The practices can be performed in 3 ways:
- With awareness of the actual physical movement, the interaction between the various components of the body (bones, joints, ligaments, muscles etc), with mental counting of each round and with awareness of thoughts arising in the mind. This method induces peace and balance bringing harmony in the physical body.
- With awareness and integrated breathing. The movements become slower, which in turn slows the brain waves, further enhancing relaxation. This has a greater effect on harmonising physical body and breath.
- With awareness of the movement of prana. Prana may be experienced as a tingling sensation in the body to which one becomes sensitized with practice.
After every two or three practices, sit quietly in the base position with eyes closed and be aware of the natural breath.
Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti)
All the practices of pawanmuktasana part 1 are performed while sitting on the floor in the base position.
- Sit outstretched keeping both the knees together and the heel on floor
- Keep the spine and the neck in the same line
- Put the palms of the hands on the floor or on the blanket along with the waist, keeping the fingers outstretched
- The back, neck and head should be comfortably straight.
- Straighten the elbows.
- Lean back slightly, taking the support of the arms
- Now closing your eyes relax the whole body in this position.
Toe Bending, Ankle Bending, Ankle Rotation & Ankle Crank
Repeat each exercise for 10 times with breath awareness and closed eyes.
- Set yourself in the base position.
- Set apart the legs maintaining some distance.
- Concentrate on toes.
- Inhale deeply and move the toes backward with ease.
- Exhale when moving the toes forward.
- Be conscious about the toe’s movement. Don’t move your ankle.
- Open your eyes after the practice.
Repeat the same with the whole feet forward and backward focusing your attention at the ankle. This is Ankle bending.
For Ankle Rotation, rotate both your ankles ten times – first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
For Ankle Crank, remain in base position. Bend the right knee and bring the foot towards the groin. Hold the right ankle with the right hand. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. Slowly rotate the right foot 10 times clockwise, then 10 times anti-clockwise. Change leg and repeat with left foot.
Kneecap Contraction, Knee bending & Knee crank
- For Kneecap contraction, remain in the base position.
- Contract the muscle surrounding both knees, drawing the kneecap back towards the thigh.
- Maintain the contraction for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Release the contraction and let the kneecaps return to its normal position.
- Practice this five times.
Next is Knee Bending.
- Balance the body in the base position.
- Bend the right knee and lift the sole above the floor.
- Interlocking the fingers below the thighs.
- Hold the thighs up to the chest level and keep the heel near the thighs.
- Keep your arm as straight as possible while bending your elbow.
- Keep your spinal cord and neck straight.
- Inhale deeply and slow while straightening your legs.
- Do not allow the heel or toes to touch the floor.
The thighs should get back to the chest level when you exhale out. Practice this 10 times with both the legs alternately.
Stay in Knee bending position to do the knee crank. Raise the right foot from the ground. Rotate the lower leg from the knee in a large circular movement. Rotate 10 times clockwise and 10 times anti-clockwise. Repeat with left leg.
Half butterfly, Hip Rotation and Full Butterfly
The Ardha Titali Asana or half butterfly can be done as follows:
- Remain in the base position.
- Bending the right knee put the right leg on the left thigh as far as possible.
- Grasp firmly the right toe with the left hand.
- Keep the spinal chord and the neck straight.
- Hold the left leg straight with the heel touching the floor.
- Inhaling deep, effortlessly press the knee floor ward.
- Now exhaling deep but slow, raise the knee up to the breast
- This is the first cycle of the practice. Repeat 20 times each with alternate legs.
For Hip rotation, sit in the same position as above and rotate the right knee in a circle and make the circular movement as large as possible. Practive 10 rotations clockwise and then 10 rotations anti-clockwise. Repeat on the other leg.
Full Butterfly or Poorna Titali Asana is done by bending the knees and bringing the soles of the feet together. Keeping the heels as close to the perineum as possible, practise up to 30 up and down movements. This asana prepare the legs for mastery of padmasana and other meditative asanas.
I will be sharing the upper body joint movements in future posts.
Come along to our Saturday morning yoga sessions to learn and practice these asanas and other beneficial asanas.
Roopa | Prana Yoga