In the yoga tradition, it is believed that a subtle energy supports our bodies. We call this energy ‘prana’ or life force.This ‘prana’, circulates in subtle channels called nadis.This flow of prana is often described as the flow of air, or ‘Vayu’ in Sanskrit. When there is free movement of prana in the body, it brings good health and wellbeing.

Simple static and dynamic asanas targeted to remove blockages preventing the free flow of energy in body and mind are called Pawan Mukta Asana. So here ‘pawan’ or air refers to prana, ‘mukta’ means release, and ‘asana’ means pose. The purpose of the Pawanmuktasana sequence is to remove any blockages and ensure a free flow of prana throughout the body. Excess of air can also lead to physical problems like arthritis, Joint problems, constipation, dry/rough skin, cold hands and feet. Whereas mentally it can cause anxiety, restlessness.

Importance of Pawan mukta Asanas-

The Pawanmukta asana is one of the most important groups of practices that has a very profound effect on the human body and mind and thus a most useful tool for the yogic management of various disorders and maintenance of health. It is valuable for understanding the meaning of asana by developing awareness of the body’s movements and the subtle effects they have at the various levels of being. It is very useful as a preparatory practice as it opens up all the major joints and relaxes the muscles of the body. The series may be practised by anyone: beginner or advanced, young or elderly. It promotes total health, regulating and stabilizing the flow of energy throughout the body.

Affecting not just the body but also the mind-

Many modern day diseases are psychosomatic in nature.These asanas, if done correctly, in a noncompetitive and relaxed atmosphere, not only relax the muscles of the body, but also relax the mind. By integrating the breath synchronization and awareness, the brain becomes focused and doesn’t wander into tension and stress. The nature of these asanas is thus more mental than physical. If asanas are performed correctly they relax the mind, improving hormonal functions and the activities of internal organs. All these should be performed on both sides to counterbalance the habitual behaviour patterns.

Three groups in which pawan mukta asanas-

  1. the anti-rheumatic group
  2. the digestive/abdominal group
  3. the shakti bandha group to release energy blocks.

All three groups supplement each other, stimulating and encouraging a free flow of energy throughout the body.

  1. The anti-rheumatic group

This group of asanas is concerned with releasing tensions from the joints of the body. It is excellent for those to whom vigorous physical exercise is not advised. It is particularly useful for eliminating energy blockages in the joints of the physical body, and for improving coordination, self-awareness and self-confidence.

This involves movement of toes, ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbow and shoulders and neck separately. The asanas should be done with complete awareness of different parts of body while mentally counting each round. After mastery over awareness on body, integrate breath  and try to synchronise breath with movement. After this awareness can be brought to movement of prana, any sensations one feel in body after asana practice. 

  1. The digestive/abdominal group

This group of asanas is concerned specifically with strengthening the digestive system. It is excellent for people with digestive issues,  disorders of the male or female reproductive systems and varicose veins. It also eliminates energy blockages in the abdominal area.

This involves a couple of dynamic asanas and twisting poses. The awareness should be kept at the Movement, stretch of the muscles and on breath.The body and mind should be calm and relaxed and a short rest should be taken between asanas until the breathing returns to normal.

  1. The shakti bandha group to release energy blocks

This group of asanas is concerned with improving the energy flow within the body and breaking down neuro-muscular knots, in the spine, activate the lungs and heart, and improve endocrine function. The series is useful for those with reduced vitality and a stiff back and is especially useful for menstrual problems and toning the pelvic organs and muscles. 

The shakti bandha series may be started straight away if good health and fitness prevail, but precautions should be taken in case of ailments. Full awareness should be kept on body movements, breath and physical sensations. All asanas should then be practised on both sides to balance development of the limbs, nerves and behaviour patterns.

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