Yoga Bites: Pawanamuktasana Part 1

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by Smt Smrithi Adinarayanan

All of us out here expect things to happen in a jiffy. We want quick results. One needs to be conscious of the importance of the practice and the effect of practicing each asana.
This reminds me of a Tibetan story.
Once a disciple went to the master and asked him to teach him meditation.
The master then said,”Sit quietly in the corner and think of nothing. The moment you think of something, give up, and start from scratch.”
The disciple sat in the corner…thoughts…thoughts…nothing but thoughts! So he gave up and went to the master and said,”Master! Thoughts are just coming up. So I gave up the practice”.
The master quietly said, “You gave up the practice. Isn’t it the thought that you should have given up?”
Please spend a little time with yourself and enjoy the journey.
Today let us look at pawanamuktasana.

The word pawan means ‘wind’ or ‘prana’, mukta means ‘release’ and asana is ‘yogic posture’. Therefore pawanamuktasana means a group of asanas that remove any blockages preventing the free flow of energy in the body and mind. Sometimes, due to bad posture, disturbed bodily functions, unbalanced lifestyle, psychological or emotional problems, the energy becomes blocked. This initially results in stiffness, muscular tension, lack of proper blood circulation. However, if these blockages become chronic, a limb, a joint or a physical organ may malfunction, fail or become diseased.
Regular practice of pawanamuktasana removes energy blockages from the body and prevents new ones from forming. In this way, it promotes total health, regulating and stabilizing the flow of energy throughout the body. 

All the practices of pawanamuktasana are performed while sitting on the floor in the base position. The body should be relaxed, and only those muscles associated with the asana being executed should be used. Full awareness should be given to the performance of the asana.

Base position (Prarambak sthithi)


Ardha thithali asana (half butterfly)

Sit with legs straight and hands and place the hands on the floor to the sides and just behind the buttocks. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. This is the starting position.

While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the knee to the floor. The trunk should not move. Do not force this movement in any way. The leg muscles should be passive, the movement being achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Slowly practice 15 up and down movements. While breathing the movement of hip joint and relaxation of inner thigh muscles happens.

Without breathing, remain in the same position with the right leg on the left thigh. Relax the right leg muscles as much as possible. Push the right knee down with the right hand and try to touch the knee to the floor. Do not strain. Let the knee go up by itself. This movement is achieved by use of the right arm only. Practice 30 to 40 up and down movements in quick succession. During this process the breathing should be normal.

Repeat the Breathing in and Without Breathing process and unlocking procedure with the left knee.

In order to do this asana one should make sure that one can sit normally without any problems.

Benefits: This asana is very good for loosening up the knee and hip joints and should be done both in the morning and evening.

Poorna thithali asana (full butterfly)

Stage 1:

Clasp the feet with both hands. Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down. Try to touch the knees to the ground on the downward stroke. Please do not use any force. Practice up and down movements for 40 to 50 times.

Stage 2:

Keep the soles of the feet together. Place the hands on the knees. Using the palms, gently push the knees down towards the floor, allowing them to spring up or coming back again. Please do not force this movement. Repeat this process 40 to 50 times. straighten the legs and relax.
Normal breathing, unrelated to the practice. Awareness should be on mental counting, movement and relaxation. People with sciatica and sacral conditions should avoid this asana.

Benefits: Both stages prepare the legs for mastery of Padmasana and other meditative asanas. The inner thigh muscles hold a lot of tension which is relieved by these asanas. They also remove tiredness from long hours of standing and walking.

Nauka Sanchalanasana (rowing the boat)

Sit with both the legs straight in front of the body. Imagine the action of rowing a boat. Clench the hands as though grasping oars, with the palms facing down.

Breathe out and bend forward from the waist as far as is comfortable, straightening the arms. Breathing in, lean back as far as possible, drawing the hands back towards the shoulders. This is round one.

The hands should make a complete circular movement in every round, moving up the sides of the legs and trunk. The legs should be kept straight all the time.

Make sure to practice 10 to 15 rounds. Reverse the direction of the rowing movement as though you are going in the opposite direction. Practice this also from 10 to 15 rounds.

In the same sitting position, spread the legs so that the feet are about one meter apart. The legs should remain straight throughout the practice. Repeat this procedure as given above. First row over the right leg, then the left leg and then over the space between the feet.

Inhale while leaning back and exhale while bending forward. This asana has a positive effect on the pelvis and abdomen and eliminates energy blockages in these areas.

Benefits: It is especially useful for gynecological disorders and postnatal recovery. It also removes constipation.

Let me close today’s article with verses from Yogasutra of Patanjali
atha yoga-anusanam
Now instruction in yoga.

yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah
Yoga is the restraint of fluctuations of the mind.

tada drastuh sva rupe’vasthanam
Then there is abiding in the seer’s own form.

avidya ksetram uttaresam prasupta-tanu-vicchina-udaranam
Ignorance is the origin of the others, whether dormant, attenuated, interrupted, or fully active.

vrtti-sarupyam itarata
At other times it takes the form of the fluctuations.

Valid cognition, error, conceptualization, sleep, and memory.

Image Courtesy – Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati