When you study the world around you from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s easier to use your Yoga practice to create balance and harmony in your life.
For instance, whenever there is movement, such as in the transition between seasons or the transformation of food to energy, vata dosha is involved. Vata, made up of the ethers and air elements, provides the space for movement and the push of wind to take something from here to there. In the body, it allows your digestive organs to guide food from the mouth to the colon, your blood to circulate the nutrients throughout your body and your legs to walk as a result of the energy from your food.
Vata can quickly move into excess due to the effects of modern living – too much movement through travel, multitasking and overstimulation. One of the first signs of an increase in the air element in your body is gas in the colon. By paying attention to this important signal, you can calm vata before it moves to other areas in your body and pushes the other doshas, pitta and kapha, out of balance as well. It’s time to incorporate pawanmuktasana, or wind-relieving pose, into your Yoga practice.
Pawanmuktasana works to calm vata and relieve gas, while supporting stability in the hips and a stronger connection between the upper and lower parts of the body. Whenever vata is high, or during times of transition, combine this pose with other vata-calming activities, such as dinacharya (daily routine), and eating augmenting foods, such as cooked whole grains or stewed apples.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout your life.
Pawanmuktasana from the ground up
As you practice, keep your drishti, or gaze, at your bent knee, not your moving toe. This will increase the stabilizing energy of the pose and further calm vata.
1. Begin lying on your back with your hands beside you. Keep your legs and feet together, and give yourself a big smile.
2. Use your breath to extend your arms toward the ceiling, then lay them flat on the floor overhead to open your diaphragm.
3. Breathe and extend your right leg straight up into the air, keeping it as straight as you can as you bring it up. This strengthens your psoas and connects you to your pelvic floor.
4. Bend your right leg and lace your hands around the front of your shin just below your knee (if you have knee pain, lace your hands on your upper thigh behind your knee). Draw your thigh toward your torso.
5. Exhale to bring your forehead toward your knee. If you have neck pain, leave your head on the floor for the entire pose.
6. Lift your left leg off the mat and, keeping the top of your foot extended, begin to make big, even circles with your toe. Extend through the front of the ankles on both feet. After you’ve made five circles clockwise and five counterclockwise, place your left leg on the floor.
7. Come out of the pose by extending your right leg back up into in the air and your arms overhead. Lower your right leg to the floor slowly, keeping it as straight as you can. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Common trouble spots
Lazy foot on lifted leg. Keep your top leg active, from hip to foot, to increase the flow of prana and build strength.
Bending the knee to bring the leg up. Bring your leg up in a straight line to engage the pelvic floor and improve abdominal strength.
Fingers not laced. Lacing your fingers allow you to gently draw your knee into your torso using the energy flowing from the palms and get the full benefit from the pose.
Rotating the leg bone side to side as you make the circles. The front of the leg and foot should face up throughout the circles to protect your hips and knees.
Pointing the toes. Extend through the front of your ankle, but keep your toes relaxed.
Making circles with a bent knee. Extend through the lifted leg as you make circles.
Interested in learning more about the connection between Yoga and Ayurveda? Apply for our 200-hour Yoga and Ayurveda teacher training on Kaua’i.