Vyana Vayu is the current of energy that nourishes the entire body and distributes prana the is gathered at the center of the body during inhalations and moves it outward towards the periphery of the body on the exhalations. It helps to facilitate our proprioception and balance.
Curl middle, ring, and little finger into palm, secure with thumb, extend index finger; rest back of hands on thighs
Benefits: Activates Vyana Vayu
How it Works: The middle (ether), ring (earth) and pinkie (water) fingers are held down in the palm by the thumb (fire) to represent the drawing inward of the inhalation, the storing of energy. The index finger (air) is extended to enhance expansion of prana throughout the body on the exhale.
Practice Tips: Use to feel expansiveness of your breath
Stand with feet hips width apart (or toes together, heels slightly separated). Engage the muscles of the legs towards the bones. Draw the belly in and release the tail bone. Lift the chest and draw the shoulder blades down. Press the crown of the head towards the ceiling.
Hold 10-20 breaths.
Therapeutics: Grounds the body and prepares for all standing poses, improves balance
Begin standing with feet slightly wider than hips distance apart. Keeping the knees soft, begin to swing arms around the body like two elephant trunks, lightly tap the body with the hands wherever they land as you twist right and left. Go faster or slower depending on how it feels to you for about 1 minute. Then slow down the swinging until you are again standing still.
Therapeutics: Increases circulation of blood and lymph throughout the body, awakens the energy and detoxifies the abdominal organs.
Stand with feet wide apart, turn toes out slightly. Exhale bend knees over ankles and raise forearms up to sides with palms facing forward.
Inhale return to starting position. Repeat 5 times.
Therapeutics: Strengthens the thighs and grounds the energy of the body
Stand with feet wide apart. Turn left foot out 90 degrees and right foot in 30 degrees. Inhale arms out from shoulders. Exhale and bend left knee. Keep torso upright and do not lean over bent leg. Gaze towards left hand.
Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Strengthens legs and increases balance
Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Stand with feet wide apart.
Variation I: Bend forward from hips placing hands between feet. Release spine forward with crown of head facing floor. Hold up to 1 minute, then return to standing by drawing hands onto hips and lifting entire torso up as a single unit.
Lay on back with knees bent and feet hips with apart. Inhale and lift hips away from floor, rolling onto upper back. Press arms back into floor and lengthen tail bone towards backs of knees.
Hold 5-15 breaths and release.
Therapeutics: Opens chest, activates thyroid, tractions spine
Lie on back with legs straight and feet relaxed to sides. Move arms away from sides slightly and turn palms to face ceiling. You may use support under the knees for low back pain; and a folded blanket under the head if needed. Rest 5-15 minutes.
Therapeutics: Allows for integration of mind and body after asana practice, promotes restful awareness
Udana Vayu is the uppermost current of energy in the body that nourishes the throat and head. It maintains the health of our sensory organs and encourages communication and clear thinking. This practice focuses on quiet and active practices to encourage the circular flow of udana vayu.
Clasp hands with right thumb on top; hold left thumb with right thumb and index finger. Hold in front of abdomen.
Benefits: Stimulates immunity
How it Works: The feminine left thumb (fire) is circled by the masculine right thumb (fire) and index finger (air) enhancing heat in the body to help it fight off infection.
Practice Tips: Use when you have a cold or are constipated.
SOMATICS FOR THE NECK & SHOULDERS
These warm-ups can be done sitting in a chair or sitting cross-legged on the floor. Use as a stand-alone practice to keep the neck and shoulders feeling loose or before the more difficult postures. Somatic movements should be practiced very slowly using only the muscles absolutely necessary for the movement paying particular attention to any compensatory muscle movements. Repeat each movement five times with the breath; inhale as you are contracting the muscle, exhale as you are relaxing the muscle.
Somatic Head Movements - No
Begin sitting in a chair or in a cross-legged position on the floor. Inhale as you turn head to the right, exhale head to center. Inhale head to left, exhale head to center. Repeat 5 times to each side
Somatic Head Movements - Yes
Inhale as you lift chin up keeping entire neck long. Exhale and lift back of skull up as you tuck chin in towards throat. Keep careful control of the head during the movements. Repeat 5 times
Somatic Head Movements – Tilt Side to Side
Inhale as you lift right ear towards ceiling. Exhale and return head to center. Repeat 5 times with the breath
Somatic Shoulder Elevation & Depression
Inhale and shrug the shoulders towards the ears. Exhale relax shoulders down the back. Repeat each movement 5 times
Somatic Shoulder Retraction & Protraction
Inhale and draw shoulder blades toward the spine. Exhale draw the shoulder blades away from the spine. Repeat each movement 5 times
Somatic Shoulder Circles
Inhale as you draw shoulders up then back. Exhale as you draw shoulders down then forward. Repeat 5 times with the breath. Inhale as you pull shoulders back then up. Exhale as you move shoulders forward then down.
Repeat 5 times with the breath
Somatic Opposite Shoulder Circles
Circle one shoulder forward and one shoulder back. Right shoulder forward and left shoulder back. Right shoulder up and left shoulder down. Right shoulder back and left shoulder forward. Right shoulder down and left shoulder up.
Repeat 5 times to each direction
Somatic Shoulder Shimmy
Place hands on thighs and inhale turn the shoulders to the right sliding the right hand back to the hip, turn the head over the left shoulder. Exhale back to the center.
Inhale turn the shoulders to the left sliding the left hand back to the hip, turn the head over the right shoulder. Exhale back to the center.
Repeat 5-10 times each direction
Somatic Scapula Release
Turn head to the left. Inhale and raise right shoulder blade up as you tlit head back to the right to meet it.
Exhale and press shoulder blade down as you drop the chin towards the left shoulder.
Somatic Accordion Sidebend
Place the right hand on the floor beside you. Inhale and tilt the body to the right keeping the head and shoulders in alignment. Exhale and return to center
Repeat 5 times with the breath on each side
Somatic Heart Opener
Bring left hand behind head. Inhale and turn upper torso to left, keeping elbow and head in alignment. Exhale return to face the front
Repeat 5 times with the breath
Somatic Seated Cat/Cow
Place hands on knees.
Cat: Exhale, round back and press tail bone forward, pressing navel towards spine. Repeat 10 times.
Cow: Inhale, press tail bone back towards chair and lift chest drawing shoulders back.
Keep head completely still and move the eyes only in the following directions slowly with the breath. :
Finish each exercise by blinking eyes rapidly and closing them for a few seconds.
- Look up and down, 5 times slowly.
- Look left and right, 5 times slowly.
- Look diagonally upper right to lower left, 5 times slowly.
- Look diagonally upper left to lower right, 5 times slowly.
- Move eyes in a circle first clockwise 3 times slowly, then anti-clockwise.
Reclining Supported Shoulderstand
Supta Salamba Sarvangasana
Place a block on the first height against the wall and a bolster lengthwise in front of the block. Sit on the bolster facing the wall and lie back so that the upper shoulders and back of head reach the floor. Press feet into wall resting heels on the block. If low back is stressed, bend knees and place feet on floor. Hold up to 5 minutes then release by rolling to side.
Therapeutics: Good for upper back stiffness and opening the Psoas and quadriceps if legs are straight
Alternate Nostril Breath
Inhale through right nostril, exhale through left nostril, inhale through left nostril, exhale through right nostril, repeat for 10 rounds at a time, monitoring the effects.
Psychic Method: Breathe in and out through alternate nostrils using your imagination. This method has a subtler affect but is easier to do lying down.
Benefits: Balances the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), increases communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.