'When you learn how to walk, you start our own path." Given.
So focus this week is on the circulatory system and the vayus. With this cold, I've been exploring how my systems and energy shifts on a physical level, as I have directly felt my body respond in averted ways towards the cold. I've also begun to explore this on a mental and spiritual level, as we are aware that what occurs affects all three. My health has felt a little compromised recently, so as I reach out for healing remedies and change of habits to enter this new season, my awareness of my own state of wellbeing has become greater and shifts are being made. This affects our yoga practice too and how we engage in all aspects both on and off the mat. As we take action and choose which way we walk, time and time again, we can observe the shifts occurring.
So from increasing garlic intake, to massage and aromatherapy, herbs and exercising, what else can we do to help circulation and nourish the blood and flow. Well Do Yoga of course. And so Yoga in a way that is explorative and that suits the place, the climate, your current state, is essential to the connectivity you will feel.
There are many great asana postures for this, especially those standing postures, but importantly not forgetting the breath, as well as the Vayus to move prana, life force.
What are the Vayus I hear you say?!
The body has five coverings known as the Pancha Maya Koshas. These include the physical body, subtle body (vital, emotional, intellectual) and the bliss body. We have all these three bodies in Yoga. The nadis constitute a network that links all three and are known to be the nervous system of the subtle body, which includes over 72,000 nadis. There are three main nadis that begin at the base of the spine. These are known as:
1. Sushumna Nadi – central spinal channel, from base of spine to crown of head.
2. Pingala Nadi – situated on right side of Sushumna, masculine. Originating in Muladhara, ends in Right Nostril.
3. Ida Nadi – situated on left side of Sushumna, feminine. Originating in Muladhara, ends in left nostril.
When these three nadis are flowing freely with prana and unite at the thirdeye center, known as the Anja Chakra, Hatha Yoga comes alive as we become balanced in our opposites. These three nadis are held to be ‘presided over by’ the deities Soma, Surya and Agni, which on a physical plane manifest as moon, sun and fire. Ida and Pingala are also depicted as coiling around the Sushsumna like a double helix or two snakes.
Prana circulates in five different directions and each one performs a different duty in the pranic system. These are known as the five Vayus; prana vayu, apana vayu, samana vayu, udana vayu and vyana vayu. Through developing a conscious practice of pranayama, we are able to change the direction of prana so these sources may be of benefit to attain enlightenment.
1. Prana Vayu- rests in the heart and moves from the diaphragm to the throat, regulating breathing, our circulation, speech and our heart rate.
2. Apana Vayu- moves downward from the navel to the feet, controlling such body functions as urination, ejaculation, menstruation and childbirth.
3. Samana Vayu- moves back and forth within the area of the navel to the diaphragm. As if moving like a pendulum, it balances the prana and apana vayus, as well as digestion and assimilation.
4. Udana vayu- moves from the throat to the crown of the head. It regulates the actions of swallowing, coughing, choking and hiccups.
5. Vyana vayu- moves in various directions, taking prana to every cell in the whole body.
I share with you a real snapshot of Vyana Vatu which we will explore in class this week, below as written by Yoga International, explains it well:
Vyana vayu, one of the five subdivisions of the life force, prana, empowers the distribution and communication systems of the body. It integrates and coordinates the other four prana vayus, keeping them balanced and nourished. A pervasive and expansive force, vyana governs the movement of prana through the nadis (energy channels); the movement of energy through the circulatory system and the nervous system; and the free flow of thoughts and feelings in the mind.
Vyana also controls the muscular system, coordinates balance, and regulates movement from the core to the periphery. While it permeates the entire body, vyana is particularly active in the limbs, helping them implement the powers of locomotion and manipulation—two of the five karmendriyas (or active senses). The expansive quality of vyana, with the help of apana vayu (the downward-moving force), grounds and anchors through the legs, and is especially perceptible in the arms, as reflected in their capacity to offer comfort and healing.
When vyana vayu is deranged, both body and mind become disintegrated and weakened, resulting in disjointed efforts, various physical maladies, and alienation and anxiety at the mental level. The practices of hatha yoga can maximize the functioning of all aspects of vyana vayu: distributing energy throughout the body; enlivening the physiological functions of the circulatory system, the lymph system, and the nervous system; and removing obstacles to the circulation of nutrition, energy, and information throughout the mind and body
“A man should look for what is, and not for what should be.“ Albert Einstein.
Diving into Vyana Vayu, we will work with flowing, expansive movements of the arms and shoulders, rich breath patterns, and meditation to optimize our circulatory system and our capacity to flow with the currents of life. In asana, we can explore the nature of vyana in standing poses, effective in integrating energy flow. Standing poses allow us to connect the various movements of the arms and legs with core strength, which is a key tool for developing focus, mental clarity, and expansion of consciousness and help us to cultivate grace and sensitivity. Standing poses expand energy through the limbs while connecting with the deeper awareness of the axial core energy channels, driving the mind inward.
I suggest to simply come along, and experience as we can read, study and try to understand but its when you get in to the body, out of the mind, that the real learning takes place.
So walk your way to class and lets explore together.