I went back to school in the year 2000. I was definitely a mature age student, but about two-thirds of my class were too. We were enrolled in a yoga teacher training.
After having taught yoga for 15 years, I decided to learn some new things. One of these was a way of doing yoga called Pawanmuktasana; translated from Sanskrit, the word can mean joint-freeing or wind-releasing.
These movements are designed for you to move systematically through your whole body, freeing up each joint along the way.
Pawanmuktasana practices are practical and, at the same time, simple, gentle and comfortable. They help a newcomer to yoga build good foundations for more advanced postures by teaching body and breath awareness. For the more seasoned yogis, starting regular yoga practice with these exercises gives time to do a body/mind/energy check-in. They are perfect for cold mornings when your body is stiff and you want to warm it up slowly.
Despite the many benefits of these movements, I didn’t take to them at first. I considered them a wimpy form of yoga — until I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hips and then I found them invaluable.
As I took up the joint-freeing routine on a regular basis, I got more than physical benefits: I enjoyed newfound calm. Because Pawanmuktasana movements are done in a relaxed, non-competitive, and slow manner that is coordinated with the breath, they invite one to pay attention to subtle body signals. In this sense, the practices draw one inward and they relax the mind and nervous system.
The other day a friend came to visit after having travelled through Asia and Europe for three months. We did the Pawanmuktasana practices together in the Yoga Shed, and, in a relatively short time, her body started to come alive with vibrancy.
If you’re curious about this type of practice, here are a couple of resources:
Pawanmuktasana Yoga Class – Downloadable MP3 with visual guide from LiveYogaLife
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, Bihar Yoga Bharati, India, 1997 – Of special interest is the first section on the three stages Pawanmuktasana exercises.