Samana vayu is the current of prana in the body that nourishes the upper digestive organs. The movement of this current expands upon inhalation and releases back towards the center upon exhalation. In this way, it massages the organs along with the diaphragmatic movement of each breath. This practice focuses on gentle lateral bends and twists to encourage the expansion of samana vayu.
Goddess of Transformation
Interlace the fingers together and extend the middle fingers upwards, hold in front of the chest.
Benefits: Activates solar plexus and digestion
How it Works: The right and left hands are joined with the middle fingers (ether) extended which enhances Samana Vayu and the expanding inhalation from the solar plexus outward. It also encourages rising energy towards transformative mental and creative pursuits.
Practice Tips: Use when feeling low energy or low enthusiasm
Contraindications: High blood pressure
Supported Lateral Bend
Lie on the side with a bolster or rolled blanket under side ribs and a second bolster to support the head Extend bottom arm between the two bolsters. Begin with both knees bent then try extending top leg in line with the rest of the spine. Raise the top arm overhead and support with the head bolster. Breathe into the rib cage that faces the ceiling. Rest 3-5 minutes per side.
Therapeutics: Opens both sides of thoracic region increasing breath capacity
Easy Seated Twist
Begin sitting cross legged and inhale to draw the arms overhead. Exhale and first twist to the right bringing the left hand to the right knee, the right hand on the floor behind you. Inhale return to the center with the arms overhead. Exhale and twist to the left (shown) bringing the right hand to the left knee, the left hand on the floor behind you. Repeat with the breath 5-10 times.
Therapeutics: Gently opens the ribs, massages the organs and muscles along the spine.
Draw feet to left side of pelvis, knees stay in front of torso. Try to press left hip towards floor as you raise left arm overhead. Exhale and twist belly, ribs, chest and head to right. Release left arm to outside of right thigh, right arm can support behind the back.
Hold for up to 2 minutes, then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Opens hips, stretches muscles along spine & neck
Begin on all fours.
Variation I: Inhale lift right arm out to side. Exhale press right arm under left armpit lowering right shoulder to floor. Continue to press left hand into floor for balance.
Variation II: You can also choose to turn the left toes under and lift the left knee up pressing the ball of foot back into the floor. Be careful not to put too much pressure on your head.
Therapeutics: Opens upper back, shoulders and rib cage.
Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Begin on all fours with hands slightly forward of shoulders. Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Keep shoulders wide and palms flat, press thighs and sit bones back, scooping belly in.
Hold 1-3 minutes, release into Child's Pose.
Therapeutics: Strengthens arms and shoulders, stretches back of torso and legs
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Sit with left leg cross-legged and that heel beside right hip. Step right foot down on the outside of the left knee. Inhale and wrap left arm around front of right knee. Exhale and twist into right leg, compressing the belly. Twist from belly, through ribs, chest, and then head.
Hold for up to 1 minute, then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Compresses the belly to increase digestion, wrings out muscles along spine
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 back
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.