Wind enters the body and circulates in various directions carving and sculpting pathways. It enters, descends, rises, contracts towards centre and expands away from centre. Known as Prana, Apana, Udana, Samana and Vyana respectively, these Vayus travel through and carve the Nadi network in the anatomy of yoga. They take care of vital functions of the body such as ingestion, elimination, expression, absorption and distribution.
Once I heard my teacher use the analogy of our muscles being like sails. The image made an impression and I often use it in my classes. A yogi wants to expend the least amount of energy. So as not to waste or lose Prana the practitioner must learn how to position themselves correctly and invite the Vayu to do the work.
If muscles are too overdeveloped and bulky, it’s like a sail that is too taut, it will tear when a big gust of wind comes. Vayu has been blocked.
If muscles are too underdeveloped and flaccid, it’s like a sail that is flapping in the wind, too loose and the boat goes nowhere. Vayu gets caught in the folds and again has been blocked.
One is too contracted and subject to injury of muscle, the other is too weak and subject to injury of bone or ligament. One is too aggressive and forcing, the other is too insecure and stagnant.
Finding just the right amount of muscular engagement is every practitioner’s challenge. Once found, enjoy the ride!
Correcting the alignment of the bones and building the blood is required first. Shadow Yoga’s 1st prelude, Balakrama, meaning first steps or stepping into strength, properly prepares the student to eventually invite the Vayu to take over and instil proper respiration.
Radhasri (Rhonda Fogel) has been teaching yoga in Canada since 1998 and is the founder of Hatha Yoga Shala currently based in Montreal.