Yoga can be used like medicine if it’s intelligently prescribed and customized for a particular issue for its “owner”…
Even for tricky matters like joint pain, arthritis, or rheumatism.
So let me introduce you to Pawanmuktasana Series 1 created by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the renowned Bihar School of Yoga.
This series is based on the repetition of exercises that open the joints, relax the muscles, remove energy blocks, and focus the mind.
The movements are simple and gentle, but their efficacy shouldn’t be doubted. In fact, Pawanmuktasana’s literal translation says it all:
- Pawan – wind or prana (the vital life force)
- Mukta – release
- Asana – pose
In essence, Pawanmuktasana is any pose that promotes the free flow of energy throughout the body. In Pawanmuktasana Series 1, blockages in the joints are gently released. The sequence begins at the toes and works upward through the entire body, rotating nearly every joint throughout its full range of motion.
Notes for Practice:
- Practice these exercises in the following order with focused awareness. Observe the physical sensations that arise. You might even feel the movement of prana, the vital life force, manifesting as tingling or a feeling of lightness.
- Each movement should be synchronized with the breath. This facilitates focused attention and a deeper mind-body connection. If you have an established yoga practice, you can practice ujjayi pranayama with each movement.
- Pawanmuktasana Series 1 is a great way to prepare the body for sun salutations and more challenging asanas. You can follow it up with your regular yoga routine.
- Each movement is traditionally repeated 10 times. If you’re short on time cut down to 5 repetitions or focus on the upper body today and the lower body tomorrow.
Pawanmuktasana Series 1: The Practice
The first half of the series focuses on the lower half of the body. Begin in the base position, Prarambhik Sthiti. Sit with your legs outstretched and your feet about 6 inches apart. Rest your hands on the ground behind you and lean back slightly.
1.Padanguli Naman (toe bending)
Without moving your ankles, inhale and flex your toes toward you. Exhale and curl your toes. Repeat this movement 10 times.
2. Goolf Naman (ankle bending)
Inhale and flex your feet toward you. Exhale and point your feet away from you. Repeat this movement 10 times.
3. Goolf Chakra (ankle rotation)
Slowly rotate both feet 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise. Inhale as you draw your feet toward you and exhale as you rotate them away from you.
4. Goolf Choornan (ankle crank)
Bend your right leg and place your foot on your left thigh. Hold your right ankle with your right hand and use your left hand to rotate your foot 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise. Inhale as you rotate your foot upward and exhale as you rotate it downward. Change sides. Straighten your legs.
5. Janu Naman (knee bending)
Draw your right knee toward your chest and interlace your fingers behind your thigh. Inhale and straighten your leg, hovering your foot just above the ground. Exhale and again draw your knee toward you. Repeat 10 times and change sides. Release both legs to the ground.
6. Ardha Titali Asana (half butterfly)
Bend your right leg and place your right foot along your left inner thigh. Hold your toes with your left hand. Place your right hand on your outter right thigh and gently draw your bent right leg toward your chest. Exhale and gently push your inner thigh toward the floor (not your knee). Repeat 10 times, then change sides. Release both legs to the ground.
7. Poorna Titali Asana (full butterfly)
Bring the soles of your feet to touch. Clasp your feet with your hands. Gently move your knees up and down like a butterfly. Repeat 30 times.
The second half of the series focuses on the upper body. Either sit with your legs outstretched, crossed legged, or with your legs folded underneath you — whatever is comfortable.
1. Mushtika Bandhana (hand clenching)
Reach your arms in front of you, palms facing down. Spread your fingers wide. Exhale and make tight fists. Inhale and spread your fingers wide. Repeat 10 times.
2. Manibandha Naman (wrist bending)
Reach your arms in front of you, palms facing away as if you were pressing into a wall. Keeping your elbows straight, exhale and bend your hands downward so that your palms face you. Inhale and bend your hands upward as if you were pressing into a wall. Repeat 10 times.
3. Manibandha Chakra (wrist joint rotation)
Reach your arms in front of you. Make fists with your thumbs tucked inside. Keeping your elbows straight, rotate your wrists 10 times in a clockwise direction. Inhale as you rotate your fists upward and exhale as you rotate them downward. Change directions.
4. Kehuni Chakra (elbow rotation)
Bring your hands to your shoulders, opening up your chest. Keep your elbows at shoulder height level. Inhale, and bring your elbows together in front of your chest, then left your elbows up. Exhale and bring your shoulders back down. Essentially both your shoulders are rotating one way in big circles. Change directions, then change sides.
5. Skandha Chakra (shoulder socket rotation)
Place your fingers on your shoulders, elbows pointing to the sides. Trace your elbows in 10 large circles. Inhale as you rotate your elbows upward and exhale as you rotate them downward. Change directions.
6. Greeva Sanchalana 1 (neck movements)
Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Inhale and lift your chin toward the sky. Exhale and draw your chin toward your chest. Repeat 10 times.
7. Greeva Sanchalana 2 (neck movements)
Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Exhale and draw your right ear toward your right shoulder (do not move your shoulder). Inhale and return to center. Exhale and draw your left ear toward your left shoulder. Inhale and return to center. Repeat 10 times.
8. Greeva Sanchalana 3 (neck movements)
Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Keep your chin parallel to the ground. Exhale and turn your head as far to the right as possible. Inhale and turn your head as far to the left as possible. Repeat 10 times.
9. Greeva Sanchalana 4 (neck movements)
Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Gently rotate your head 10 times in clockwise circles. Inhale as you draw your chin upward and exhale as you draw it downward. Change directions.
Practice this series daily if you’re suffering from any joint issues. The series can also be used as preventive care for anyone entering their elderly years, or anyone with a tendency toward dry, cracking joints.
And if you are looking for a personalized yoga routine that you can safely practice anywhere at any time, Explore Zenward where you can have one-on-one online support from our specialized Yoga Instructors and Ambassadors to safely guide you throughout Your Yoga Journey.
Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust, 2008.