Thursday, May 19, 2011
"On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day." Rumi
This spring has been full of weather. Rain, cold days, hot humid days and some very windy days. I love to open all the windows in my house and let the wind blow through clearing, refreshing and uplifting the energy in our home. I always feel like the wind can carry away any negative energy that is around me or in me. It always feels like such a gift. The yogi's use images of the wind in their practice in a number of ways and I'm going to describe one of them today. What I like about this practice is that I visualize the winds moving in my body and clearing toxins, stale energy etc. So, in the practice of yoga we becomes "artists of the breath." We give as much attention and focus to our bodies and breath as we give to our favourite hobbies such as gardening, painting, writing, skiing, reading etc. The yogi's believed (and science is now proving it correct) that the way we breath (shallow, deep, slow, fast, uneven, smooth etc.) can affect our bodies and our energy in so many ways.
One idea that I learned a few years ago, and still work with is the idea that our inhale is naturally moving up and out of the body. It is expanding and it is more "yang like" or more energetic. The yogi's called the inhale the "upper winds." The exhale is more "yin like". Passive, downward moving, grounding and relaxing. They called the exhale the "lower winds". One exercise that is encouraged is to mix up the upper winds and lower winds which in turn will balance the yin and yang of the breath cycle. When we practice this technique we imagine that there is a magnet at the base of the pelvis and that as we inhale we let the magnetic draw the inhale to the base of the pelvis (taking the upper wind deep into the body). We then use our imagination to visualize a trampoline at the base of the pelvis and as we exhale the breath bounces off the trampoline and moves up into the centre of the rib cage. We take the lower winds and move them up instead of letting them drain out of our body. What results is a nice pooling of the winds in the chest area of the body which then helps to enhance our vitality. There are also other benefits related to slow deep breathing which helps to calm the entire nervous system. I like to think of the upper and lower winds cleaning out my home, my body on a daily basis. I always feel lighter and more refreshed after a dedicated breathing practice.
Please note I do not recommend trying these techniques unless you work with a skilled instructor to ensure that you are doing them correctly. Enjoy the wind!