Pawanmuktasana, Rejig your Digestion for Overall Health
The word pawan means “wind” or “prana”, mukta means “release” and asana means “posture”. It means that Pawanmuktasana helps remove any blockages which prevent the free flow of energy, prana in the body and the mind. Sometimes, due to bad posture, disturbed bodily functions, emotional or psychological issues, and unhealthy lifestyle the flow of energy within the body becomes blocked. Initially, this causes stiffness, muscular tension, lack of proper blood flow and minor dysfunctions in the body.
In case these blockages become chronic they can lead to the malfunctioning, fail or a diseased limb, joint, or organ. A regular practice of Pawanmuktasana can benefit by releasing and preventing reformation of these blockages leading to a healthy mind and body complex. The Wind Relieving Pose, another name of Pawanmuktasana, is valuable to understand the concept and meaning of the asana as it helps develop awareness of the subtle body movements and their effect on one’s being.
It’s a very good warm up to any asana practice as it opens up all the major joints and relaxes the muscles of the body. It can be safely practiced by all: beginners or advanced, seniors or young. The nature of this asana is more mental than physical as it not only relaxes the muscles but these relaxing impulses travel back to the brain and relax the mind. Thus, Pawanmuktasana is a very effective posture for treating psychosomatic diseases which have been found to be the root cause of the majority of other ailments humans suffer from.
Since Pawanmuktasana helps release the gas trapped within the digestive track as it increases the intra-abdominal pressure it is also known as anti-flatus pose, or gas release pose. It also adequately exercises the mesogastric, umblical, pubic, gluteal, sacral, anal, perineal, and urogenital regions with the minimum use of energy.
First, we will begin with the anti-flatus pose with one leg also known as Ekpada Pawanmuktasana. This article will cover the Gas Release Pose in a lying down position which is also known as Supta Pawanmuktasana.
Lie down in supine position with the legs comfortable stretched out, feet kept together, and the hands placed beside the body on the mat
Breathe normally and try to keep the mind and the body relaxed
Exhaling, bend the knee at the right leg, lift it and draw it closer to the chest, the front of the thigh resting on the abdomen and the claves folded on to the back of the thigh
In case the knee is unable to reach the chest grasp it with both the hands, fingers interlocked, and pull it to the chest, now clasp the upper part of the shins with the forearms running opposite, parallel to each other, fingers of the hands gripping the opposite elbows, keep the knee pressed to the chest
Keep the head and the neck rested on the mat, the left leg remains extended straight on the mat as well
Maintain this forearm grip, the final position, on to the shins while keeping the breath in suspension for a few seconds
For releasing the posture, inhaling release the forearm grip onto the shins and slowly straighten the leg and lower it beside the left leg as it was in the starting position
Repeat the steps as described above with the left leg as well, this completes one round
Wind Removing Pose with both Legs – Dvipada Pawanmuktasana
The steps remain the same as for Ekapad Pawanmuktasana. The difference lies in the fact that here the asana is performed with raising and folding both the legs over the abdomen and the chest instead of one leg at a time.
Variations of Pawanmuktasana
Lie down supine on the mat with the legs stretched straight, feet together, and the hands lying beside the hips
Exhaling, bend both the knees together and bring them to the chest, thighs on to the abdomen
Interlock the fingers and clasp the shins just below the knees
Take a deep inhalation, retaining the breath slowly raise the head, neck, and the shoulders above the mat and hold the nose in the space between the two knees
Maintain this position for a few seconds, or up till comfortable, and release the pose by lowering the head, neck, and shoulders back on the mat while exhaling
Repeat the steps as described in variation one, but by changing the breathing pattern.
This time raise the head, neck, and the shoulders while exhaling (instead of inhaling), and hold the position in suspension of the breath. Release the posture by slowly lowering the upper torso on to the mat while inhaling.
Lie down on the mat in the starting supine position
Take a short exhalation, and inhaling raise both the legs together till they make a right angle with the mat at the hips
Exhaling, bend both the legs at the knees, keeping knees and ankles together, and lower them on to the chest, the thighs rest on to the abdomen
Grab the knees with both the forearms with hands holding the opposite elbows
Take a short inhalation, exhaling lift the head and place the chin on the knees
Maintain this position up till comfortable and release the pose by first lowering the head on to the mat while inhaling
Release the grasp of the hands on the knees and lower the hands on the mat keeping the beside the hips
Inhaling, lift both the legs back to the right angle position from the mat, and exhaling slowly lower both the legs together on to the mat as was in the starting position
Breathing Pattern and Duration – Wind Removing Pose
Breathing pattern for basic asana - Ekpada Pawanmuktasana - when done dynamically is given here.
Raise legs, bring to chest exhaling 2 seconds, maintain the pose for 4 seconds while keeping the breath in suspension, and return to starting position while inhaling for 2 seconds.
All the variations as well as the basic posture must be practiced at least 4 rounds for benefitting from the technique.
In case of static pose maintain the final position for at least 30 seconds with normal breathing throughout. Keep the breathing slow, soft and rhythmic.
Alignment considerations and Practice note for Pawanmuktasana
When practiced upon an inclined plane the Wind Relieving Pose better aids in quickening the release of trapped gas from the abdomen than when done on a flat surface
Generally, the persons who are not used to exercising have weak abdominal muscles, such persons must start with these posture exercises slowly and carefully, until the abdominal muscles have gained sufficient strength
For Ekapada Pawanmuktasana ensure that the leg which is straight remains in contact with the ground
It is important to begin with the right leg first because by folding it on to the abdomen and the chest directly presses the ascending colon
Which is followed by the left leg as it directly squeezes out the descending colon
For variations 1, 2, and 3 try to touch the chin, forehead, or the nose to the knees
For all Dvipada – two legs- variations keep the thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, and the insteps of the feet together, keeping the toes pointed outward
Try to keep the body relaxed throughout the pose, avoid straining the neck
Avoid pulling the knees and the thighs too close into the chest and the abdomen respectively
Practice Pawanmuktasana o an empty stomach (or at least after 4 to 6 hours of having a heavy meal) as first thing in the morning to release any trapped gases in the digestive track, and as also it stimulates movement of the bowels
Though the hips will remain lifter above the floor, make sure that the lower back remains rested on the mat in order to intensify the bend, pressure on to the abdomen
Precautions and Contraindications – Wind Liberating Pose
Persons having the below mentioned conditions must avoid doing Pawanmuktasana, or do it under an expert care wherever indicated.
Recent surgery involving the abdomen as the Wind Releasing Pose generates a lot of pressure in this area of the body
Serious back conditions like Sciatica and Slip disc
In case of any injury or stiffness in the head region do not attempt the variations of Pawanmuktasana which demand lifting of the head, or can support the head by placing a rolled blanket under it
Injury or any other issue of the spine
In case the knees have an issue one can hold the arms from the back of the lower thighs (with the calves above the arms) instead of the knees
Presence of abdominal inflammation
Benefits of Pawanmuktasana
The Anti-flatus pose is famous for a number of benefits it can provide to its practitioners. Some of them are listed here.
It strengthens the lower back muscles and loosens the spinal vertebrae, Yoga for vertebrae health makes maximum use of this asana
It provides a very good massage to the abdominal and digestive organs and thus helps remove wind and constipation
It is good at treating impotence in men and sterility as well as menstruation issues in men and women respectively as it stimulates the pelvic region
As it works by applying an increased intra-abdominal pressure to the abdominal viscera, intestines it helps improve digestion, treat hepatic torpor (sluggish liver), and reduce fat around the belly, thighs and the buttocks
The gas release pose helps with developing the feeling of “letting go”
It provides a good stretch to the neck as well as the back region, it is an effective tehnique to be included in yoga for back problems
It improves blood circulation in the abdominal region, as well as hips, and stimulate the nerves present here which benefits by improving the over all efficiency of the organs located in this region
If paired with one of its counter poses the Setubandhasana it helps enhance the strength of the lumbar spine
The practice of variation 2 of Pawanmuktasana helps enhance all the benefits which are mentioned here
Pawanmuktasana – Where should the awareness be?
While doing Wind Relieving pose one must keep one’s awareness on one’s breath, abdominal pressure, and the movements of the body parts.
Muscles which receive the impact of Pawanmuktasana
Flexors of fingers are exercises in maintaining the position
Hip flexors and knee flexors are exercised while getting into the pose
Shoulder muscles (deltoids), gluteus maximus, hamstrings and the triceps receive adequate stretch
There is reduction in coelomic cavity