Archives for posts with tag: manipura chakra

Are you a person living a safe life or a person taking risks? Do you prefer to be in a safe zone or choose the difficult, walk towards the unknown and take the risk in your daily life? I continued to practice flows on chakras in this week’s yoga classes. This week, it was “manipura chakra”s (navel chakra) turn. And we would practice a flow for our inner power and jewel. The theme of the session would be whether to stay in the safe zone and do a known flow in confidence or take chances and risk and walk towards the unknown?

We strengthened the core muscles with several “asana”s (pose) throughout the first half of the session and get ready for the peak pose. The peak pose would be something that would take the students from the safe haven. We should take risk when trying the peak pose.

I decided on two different peak poses for the morning and evening session that day because the students in the morning and evening classes could do some poses well but have difficulties in some other. The aim was to get out of the safe haven and take the risk so the groups should take the risk and activate their navel chakra. So one of the groups tried “bakasana” (crow pose) and the other “eka hasta bhujasana (leg over shoulder pose). Both asanas were poses that the students were not used to and that would be a challenge, taking them out of the safe haven and take the risk.

In the session we tried “bakasana”, some students got out of the safe haven, took the risk and tried the pose. Some of them only lifted one foot from the ground while some preferred to bring their knees on their back arms and keep their feet on the ground, staying in the safe haven.

In the session we tried “eka hasta bhujasana”, I observed the same thing. Some students only stretched their hips and brought their legs over their shoulders and stayed there some of them tried to lift their hips of the ground.

What I observed that day was that what we were doing on the “mat” was directly linked with our personalities. If we were people who liked to stand firm on our feet, we were having difficulties in balancing poses and taking risks. Or if we were not taking life so seriously and considering life a fun, such poses and sessions were just fun for us. The question was whether we should take life seriously, live in the safe haven and ground firmly on our feet or get out of the safe haven and take risk? Was life something that serious? Would it harm us if we take risk and mock with life a bit?

If you follow my blog, you should know that I have remembered — in one of my classes a few week ago — some old things I learned some years ago but have almost forgotten and that I started to use this information in my classes since then. I am focusing on “vayu”s (currents of prana/life force or literally winds) in my classes. The first two “vayu”s i.e. “prana vayu” (inward and forward energy wind) and “apana vayu” (downward and outward energy wind) were over. Last week, it was time for “balancing.” “Samana vayu” i.e. “balancing and centralizing air.”

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We all know that the thing we call “prana” in yoga philosophy is not just “breath” but also “life force.” We also know that “prana” moves our body and helps our mind think. We can reinvigorate the body and mind with the help of “prana” in yoga practice, increase our awareness and reach high consciousness.
Therefore, yoga masters realized that “prana” was moving in five directions in the body and enumerated them as “prana vayu” (inward and forward energy wind), “apana vayu” (downward and outward energy wind), “samana vayu” (balancing air), “udana vayu” (upward energy) and “vyana vayu” (outward moving air). All these “vayu”s affect different parts of the body and when they work in harmony, the body and mind are healthy.
When we say “samana vayu”; we talk about an energy that balances and centralizes. Located at the navel, this is a wind that brings the enery to the center. It governs the digestion and assimilation of all substances: food, air, experiences, emotions and thoughts. It is an “energy wind” in-between the “prana vayu” (inward and forward energy wind) and the “apana vayu” (downward and outward energy wind). A “vayu” between the chest and the pelvic floor. “Samana vayu” is responsible for the processing and assimilation of “prana” (breath/life force) as well as food, emotions, perceptions.
“Samana vayu” is related with “manipura chakra” (navel/solar plexus chakra) and the element fire. If this “vayu” is healthy, we have strong digestion, vitality and balance at every level. When it is weak, we struggle with assimilating and digesting what we physically consume and our mental and emotional experiences. Moreover,  the expansion of “samana” caused by the union of prana and apana at the navel center awakens “sushumna nadi” (the central energy channel) and governs “agni” (the digestive fire or fire of purification).
With “samana vayu”, we take in and accept what we want and we can throw out what we do not want and do all this process in balance. When this “vayu” is unbalanced, we may face digestive and obesity problems, suffer from a weak metabolism and may not have a healthy and balanced diet.
For all these reasons, in order to stimulate “samana vayu”, we should bring together “the downward and outward energy wind” i.e. the “apana vayu” and the “inward and forward energy wind” i.e. the “prana vayu” in the navel. Thus, the body gets stronger and the mind and basic insticts are in balance. This “vayu” helps us see ourselves as we are and change our habits.
Therefore we can stimulate “samana vayu” with forward bends, twists, core strengthening asanas and contraction backbends.
We began the class with meditation as usual. After meditation, I wanted to draw attention to “samana vayu” with a “pranayama” (breathing) exercise. For a while, I thought with which pranayama exercise we could stimulate this “vayu”. Since “samana vayu” was a balancing and centralizing energy wind, we could inhale and exhale in the same counts and thus activate this “vayu.” “Inhale in five and exhale in five.” As I saw that this count of breath was so easy for the students, we counted inhales and exhales to seven. Eyes closed, spine erect and inhales and exhales equal. Focus on taking in the abdomen as much as you could.
Following “pranayama”, we tried “uddiyana bandha” (abdominal lock). In simple words, “uddiyana bandha” is to contract core muscles. Stand up tall and open your feet hip-width. Bend your knees a little bit and place your hands on your knees. Round your spine. Inhale and exhale through the nose thoroughly. Without inhaling close your lips, straighten your elbows, and feel your abdominal wall and organs push up and back towards your back. It feels like as if your belly button hit your back.
After this exercise, we activated “samana vayu” with “nauli kriya” (abdominal cleansing method). The first stage was to completely empty the lungs and tighten core muscles, i.e. “uddiyana bandha.” If we could do this, we would try to tighten the right and left abdominal muscles and those in the middle and then relax them. Then we would try to tighten one side of abdominal muscles and relax the other side. The last stage was to tighten the central core muscles, then tighten those in the right side and relax them and then tighten those in the left side and relax them. Thus, we could massage the abdomen.
Following “pranayama” and “nauli kriya”, we warmed the bodies up with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series. In order to stimulate “samana vayu”, we focused on twists and forward bends. In-between “sun salutation” series, we stayed long in “uttanasana” (standing forward bend) and “utkatasana” (chair pose) and kept the attention on the core. Throughout the flow, we tried “uddiyana bandha”. When we realized that the core was so soft, we were drawing the core muscles in again.
In-between “vinyasa”s (flow), we added twists to continue stimulating “samana vayu.” Twist in “tadasana” (mountain pose), “parivrtta uttanasana” (twist in standing forward bend), “parivrtta utkatasana” (twist in chair), “parivrtta parsvakonasana” (revolved side angle pose), “parivrtta trikonasana” (revolved triangle), “parivrtta prasarita padottanasana” (twist in wide-legged forward bend), twist in “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), twist in “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog) and “svarga dvijasana” (bird of paradise)  were some of them.
After a “vinyasa”, we jumped from “adho mukha svanasana” to “malasana” (garland pose) to stay for five breaths and then twisted in “malasana.” Then we sat down for sitting asanas aiming to stimulate “samana vayu.” “Paschimottanasana” (sitting forward bend), “marichyasana” (sage Marichy pose) and twist in “gomukhasana” (cow face pose) were the sitting poses to stimulate the “samana vayu.” Then came “navasana” (boat pose) and “parivrtta navasana” (revolved boat pose) for core muscles. In order to strengthen the core some more, we laid on our back and lifted the legs to 90 degrees. Then legs were lowered to 60, 45 and 30 degrees and then lifted to 90 degrees. Then came a dynamic “jathara parivartanasana” (abdominal twist) to strengthen oblique muscles.
Lastly, we laid on our abdomen and got into “salabhasana” (locust pose) to stimulate “samana vayu.” First just arms and chest up, then just legs up. Then both legs and arms up. Then arms joined together in the back and the chest opened more.
A last “pranayama” exercise before the class ended. We would blow the abdomen up and then take it in as much as we could with “bhastrika” (bellows breath) to stimulate “samana vayu.” “As you inhale, enlarge the diaphragm and as you exhale, let the diaphragm sink. Hold the breath after exhale.” During the “pranayama” exercise, we kept the hands in “matangi mudra.” (the seal of the God of Inner Harmony) “Join the hands first at stomach height, palms touching each other and fingers facing in upward direction. Entwine your right hand fingers with those of the left except the middle fingers that remains straight and joined.” This “mudra” (seal) strengthens the breathing impulse in the “solar plexus” and balances the energies in this area.
Now it was time for ending the class after “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose). I guess “samana vayu” was my favorite “energy wind” among all “vayu”s. Why? Because it helped us strengthen core muscles and was related with balance, digestion and assimilation. Abdomen and abdominal organs. The stomach, digestion and assimilation. As how the stomach could not digest more than it could, knowing that we could not digest more than we could take emotionally and mentally. Taking in only as much as we could digest. Taking in and accepting what we wanted and throwing away what we did not want and doing all this in harmony and balance. Taking in, absorbing, digesting and assimilating what we could accept and endure… This was what “samana vayu” was.