By Faye Martins
An awareness of the air element is one of most fundamental principles in the practice of Yoga poses and pranayama techniques. Although there are five different vayus, according to ancient Yogic texts, the two main vayus, or movement of vital winds in the body, are prana vayu and apana vayu. Prana vayu is the expansive, outward moving quality of the breath, whereas apana vayu is the contacting, downward, expelling movement of the breath. Different Yoga poses and pranayama exercises cultivate each vayu to varying degrees. Some Yoga asanas and breathing exercises cultivate the balance of prana and apana vayus. Restorative Supta Baddha Konasana is one such pose.
Restorative Supta Baddha Konasana
To practice Restorative Supta Baddha Konasana, you will need a Yoga mat, a bolster or a blanket and an eye pillow. If you do not have an aromatherapy eye pillow, an easy way to make one is to fold a wash cloth lengthwise and place it in the freezer for five or ten minutes prior to your Yoga practice. If you have a calming essential oil, such as lavender or rose, you may wish to sprinkle a few drops on your washcloth when you take it out of the freezer. If you do not own a bolster, roll a soft blanket around two foam blocks into the approximate size and shape of a Yoga bolster. When you are ready, come to Easy Seat on your Yoga mat.
Take a few full breaths and then bring your legs into a diamond shape on your mat with the soles of your feet touching. Place the bolster or rolled blanket on the mat behind you, so that the bottom of your shoulder blades will be supported by the blanket or bolster. Gently lie backwards over your bolster or blanket. Adjust the bolster or blanket if necessary. When you are comfortable, place the eye bag over your eyes. Draw your attention inward and begin to focus on your breath. Feel your heart expanding as you inhale fully and feel the downward movement of your breath through your pelvic floor as you exhale completely.
Continue this breathing practice for several minutes, expanding with each inhale and releasing the prana through your pelvic floor with each exhale. In this way, you are cultivating a balance between prana and apana vayus. When you are ready, remove your eye bag and roll to your right side. Pause for a few breaths and then push yourself gently up into Easy Seat. Feel the expansion of your heart area as the prana moves more freely throughout your entire being. Feel the apana vayu through the openness of your pelvis and the grounding of your sit bones on the mat. You may wish to meditate for a few minutes before returning to the rest of your day.
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