A few out of a million definitions of Prana: the upward rising current of life-force energy that breathes us all and inspires the movement inherent in life itself. Prana is often used as a codeword for breath, but it’s different; it is the force that compels the breath, and the vehicle that carries it. Prana is one of five of what the yogis call the vayus, or winds of the human experience, that carry energy (prana), around and through the body. Either way, prana is a catalyzing and victorious ujjayi force that moves, like Willy Wonka, up and out into the world. It’s soulmate, apana vayu, is the downward flowing roll that brings the energy back to rest and digest. The parasympathetic nervous system that governs rest and digest is a shade underserved by these wild and woolly times of information overload, and hyperspeed. The modern lifestyle of always striving, and reaching for the next highest fruit is exhausting, and this piece and practice are an encouragement to get low, pick up the perfectly ripe fruit that has fallen at your feet, and relax.
Next, supta sukhasana (supine comfortable, easy pose). Begin seated with your ankles crossed and lie back on a bolster. Check that the backward bending action of the spine (made deeper by bringing your bolster right up behind your sacrum, and lessened with the bolster touching at the middle back), doesn’t unplug your hips from the ground. Sit deeply, stretching inner thighs and outer hips. Pile up as much support behind you as needed to honor the namesake of the pose.
Send your breath down into the base of your lungs, expanding below the bridge of the respiratory diaphragm, where prana and apana meet. 3 minutes.
Baddha konasana forward fold (bound angle pose with head resting). Sit with the soles of your feet touching and knees bent wide, and find a place to rest your head. Bring the floor closer to your forehead with props and/or elbows bent to rest head in your hands, and as in the last posture, keep the depth of your seat as primary. If bent knees is uncomfortable, stretch your legs long out to the sides instead. 3 minutes.
Supta virasana (supine hero’s pose). Sit kneeling in front of your bolster, and lie back. The field of the front of the hips, thighs, and deep abdomen are stretched open, flushing the abdominopelvic organs with fresh breath and space, and nourishing their downward impulse. Check, again, that the depth of your backbend isn’t lifting you up and out of your seat and stack props accordingly. 3 minutes. If this is not comfortable or appropriate for your knees, ankles, or lower back, skip it, and enjoy 6 whole minutes in the final pose.
Lastly, a fish and corpse pose combination plate to tether the downward flowing currents to the from Relax and Renew, Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater, (an exceptional resource for anyone living in these full-blast times with an interest in restorative yoga), mountain brook pose. It’s an extra supported, downward current feeding, spine relaxing version of savasana where your knees are lifted a bit to release lower back, and heart is lofted to stretch gently through the chest and upper back. Bolster under your knees with heels touching down on the other side (with heels up, you’ll be in a mild inversion, which tends to build prana rather than apana), blanket roll under shoulder blades with head resting down on a pillow behind. 3 minutes.
Rise up to stand slowly and intentionally. With attention in your feet and a focus on staying connected to the earth below, and the waters that run through you both, walk softly into the rest of your day.
Love and big respect, Suki
Way big thank you to the five beautiful humans who modeled this grounding sequence for us! Namaste.