The subtle practice of Yoga

When we practice a yoga pose, we often focus on the physical level: the anatomy of the pose, muscles engaged and alignment. While this is important, we can also practice with a different focus, bringing awareness of the subtle levels where yoga becomes a vehicle for the integration and exploration of the whole person.

For example, when we practice Trikonasana (triangle pose) we can focus on the physical aspects of the pose, the alignment and create the lines, the triangles. However, we can also focus on the rooting of our feet, the downward energy, Apana Vayu. We can then focus on the lengthening of the spine from the pelvis upward, which is the movement of Udana Vayu. At the center of the body, there is a balancing force, Samana Vayu and Prana Vayu allow the inhalation. When we extend the arms out, is the movement of Vyana Vayu, from the center outwards.

When we focus on the pranic energy of the poses, we can feel how they all work together to create balance, stability.

Yoga is more than just flexibility or strength in postures; it is the management of prana, the Universal creative energy and the energy that circulates through the body and regulates bodily functions.

The yoga tradition describes five movements or functions of pranic energy, this are known as vayus - “winds”, each with its own area of the body and key health function. {here it is obvious the link with Ayurveda and Vata}.

The five vayus: Prana , apana , vyana , udana and samana.

Prana–Vayu is situated in the head, centered in the third-eye, and its energy pervades the chest region. The flow of Prana-Vayu is inwards and upward. It nourishes the brain and the eyes and governs reception of all things: food, air, senses, and thoughts.

Apana–Vayu is situated in the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen. The flow of Apana-Vayu is downwards and out and its energy nourishes the organs of digestion, reproduction, and elimination.

Vyana–Vayu is situated in the heart and lungs and flows throughout the entire body. The flow of Vyana-Vayu moves from the center of the body to the periphery. It governs circulation of all substances throughout the body and assists the other Vayus with their functions.

Udana–Vayu is situated in the throat and it has a circular flow around the neck and head. It functions to “hold us up” and governs speech, self-expression, and growth.

Samana–Vayu is situated in the abdomen with its energy centered in the navel. The flow of Samana-Vayu moves from the periphery of the body to the center. It governs the digestion and assimilation of all substances: food, air, experiences, emotions, and thoughts.

Next time you practice yoga, direct your focus to the subtle elements, as well as the physical one.

What else can you feel when you are in a pose?

Do you feel any imbalance, any dominance, mentally, physically, energetically?

Another exercise is to close your eyes, you will feel your body moving even when you think it is still.

Prana and Apana Chant:

Raffaella BreareComment