Prana vayu is the upward current of energy in the body that nourishes the chest, heart, lungs and upper back. It is associated with the inhaling breath and, when activated, creates an uplifting emotional tone. This week we will explore practices to bring awareness and sensitivity to prana vayu through mudra, pranayama and asana.
Breath of Life
Touch tips of thumb, ring, and little fingers together, extend index and middle fingers into V shape.
Benefits: Activates upward flowing prana in body
How it Works: The thumb (fire) joins the ring (earth) and little (water) fingers which acts to balance these elements. The extended index (air) and middle (ether) fingers enhance the upward flowing energy of Prana Vayu.
Practice Tips: Use to feel lightness and more energized in the body. Try holding arms overhead and pointing up at the sky
Pranayama Bolster w/ Elevator Breath
Sit in front of the short end of a pranayama bolster or long-folded blanket. Lay back making sure to center spine on prop, you may need extra support under the head. Notice that the position gently opens the chest and abdomen and begin to breathe up and down the spine. The inhale originates at the navel and travels towards the chest like an elevator car going up. The exhale moves back down to the navel like and elevator car going down. Repeat 10-20 breaths.
Therapeutics: Encourages activation of prana vayu.
Cat: Exhale round the back and drop the head and tail bone towards the floor.
Repeat with your breath 10 times.
Cow: Begin on the hands and knees, toes pointed. Inhale lift the sternum forward and drop the pubic bone back between the legs to arch the spine.
Notice prana vayu on inhalation moving from the navel towards the chest. Notice apana vayu on exhalation moving from the navel towards the feet.
Therapeutics: Massages the internal organs and warms-up the muscles along the spine.
Extended Childs Pose to Cobra Pose Flow
Uttita Balasana to Bhujangasana Vinyasa
Begin in Balasana with the arms overhead on the floor. Inhale keep hands where they are and move torso through arms to come first into a knee plank position with the shoulders over the wrists, the torso and thighs in a straight line.
Then exhale back into Balasana.
As you inhale a second time, bring the shoulders over the wrists, lift the heart and come into a gentle backbend with pelvis pressing towards floor.
Exhale return to Balasana.
Repeat 5-10 times with the breath.
Therapeutics: Alternately stretches and strengthens front and back of body.
Palm Tree Pose
Stand in Tadasana with the arms at the sides. Inhale lift up onto balls of the feet as you raise arms forward and either place hands on hips or raise them overhead.
Exhale release weight back into heels as you release the arms to sides.
Repeat 3-5 times with the breath.
Therapeutics: Strengthens arches of feet, ankles and calves, improves balance
Warrior I with block at wall
Begin standing in Tadasana facing the wall. Step left leg back about three feet keeping feet hips width apart. Keep right toes turned forward and left foot turned slightly out. Turn hips gently towards front foot and balance weight on both feet. Bend front knee and place block between shin and wall to stabilize the legs. Press palms into wall and press torso back and up. You may also inhale arms overhead. Draw belly up and release tail bone towards floor.
Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Opens front body and psoas, strengthens legs, improves balance
Downward Facing Dog at Wall
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Stand facing the wall and place hands on wall at chest height, shoulders distance apart, fingers spread wide. Step feet back until you can press hips back directly over heels. Try not to let the head drop below the arms and widen the shoulder blades across the back body to help support the weight of your torso. Engage the belly and use the quadriceps to press the tops of the thighs back, bending knees if necessary.
Hold for 10-20 breaths
Therapeutics: Stretches the back body, grounds the thighs and opens the shoulders.
Supported Bridge Pose
Salamba Setu Bandha
Lay down on the back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift pelvis off floor on an inhalation, place block under sacrum on whichever height is appropriate for you, and rest sacrum on the block. Turn palms up and toes slightly in. Rest up to 5 minutes.
Place two blocks on mat, one perpendicular to mat on lowest height, the other parallel to mat on middle height. The blocks should be 4-6 inches away from each other. Sit facing away from blocks and lie back placing shoulder blades on low block, back of head on high block. Place arms on floor with palms facing upwards.
Therapeutics: Opens the heart and relaxes the trapezius muscles of the upper backrt Opener
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.