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HomeYogaZafu or Bench? How Yoga’s Vayus Can Make or Break Your Meditation

Zafu or Bench? How Yoga’s Vayus Can Make or Break Your Meditation

This entry was posted on Aug 25, 2022 by Charlotte Bell.

Within the early Nineteen Nineties, after I was just some years into vipassana meditation observe, I sat a 10-day silent retreat. It was my fourth such retreat, so I knew that bodily discomfort would go to infrequently, particularly within the first few days.

On each retreat up till that time, I’d skilled bodily ache in my shoulders and again. I knew my knees would tire, and I’d really feel each sleepy and stressed at occasions. However on this explicit retreat, there was an inexplicable agitation I couldn’t place. I felt jittery and ungrounded, and needed nothing greater than to leap off my meditation bench and run out of the room.

After just a few days, in the course of a 45-minute sitting, with out considering, I abruptly pulled my bench out from underneath me and sat cross-legged on the ground. Instantly, the agitation subsided. I felt grounded and peaceable. I sat on the ground—on a zafu—for the remainder of the retreat.

It took me some time to determine what had occurred. It seems that my place on the meditation bench was going in opposition to the vayu that was dominant in my physique on the time.

What Are the Vayus?

Right here’s an outline of the vayus from Yoga Worldwide:

“The yoga custom describes 5 actions or capabilities of prana generally known as the vayus (actually “winds”)—prana vayu (to not be confused with the undivided grasp prana), apana vayu, samana vayu, udana vayu, and vyana vayu. These 5 vayus govern completely different areas of the physique and completely different bodily and delicate actions. Once they’re functioning harmoniously, they guarantee the well being and vitality of the physique and thoughts, permitting us to take pleasure in our distinctive abilities and reside life with which means and goal.”

Right here’s a fast take a look at the place the vayus are positioned and what areas of our bodily/psychological/emotional our bodies every governs:

  1. Prana: Chest, head. Governs consumption, inspiration, propulsion, ahead momentum
  2. Apana: Pelvis. Governs elimination, downward and outward motion
  3. Samana: Navel. Governs assimilation, discernment, inside absorption, consolidation
  4. Udana: Throat. Governs development, speech, expression, ascension, upward motion
  5. Vyana: Complete physique. Governs circulation on all ranges, expansiveness, pervasiveness

Right here’s What Occurred on the Meditation Retreat

The day I began feeling the unusual agitation on the meditation retreat occurred to be the day I began my interval. In keeping with the vayus, apana (downward-flowing) vitality is dominant at the moment as a result of apana governs elimination. For some folks—together with me—sitting on a meditation bench promotes an upward circulation of vitality. So after I sat on the bench on retreat throughout that point of my moon cycle, the upward-flowing vitality from sitting on the bench was in battle with the downward-flowing vitality of being on my interval. As quickly as I sat on the ground, I grew to become extra grounded and harmonized as apana vitality was capable of circulation with out disruption.

There are lots of anatomical causes to select one type of sitting assist over one other. However the retreat taught me that I additionally want to contemplate vitality circulation.

For instance, if sleepiness is one in all your challenges in meditation, a meditation bench may assist you to increase your vitality degree. If restlessness is extra widespread for you, a Zafu, V-Formed Cushion or Zen Pillow may be a more sensible choice. After all, completely different vayus dominate at completely different occasions, so it may very well be useful to have multiple selection.

Total, I’ve discovered the V-Formed Cushion to be one of the best match for my physique, each anatomically and energetically. However in fact, we’re all completely different, so it’s necessary to check out completely different choices to see what works finest for you at a given time.

For extra detailed data on the vayus and the best way to work with them in your asana observe, go to this publish.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Apply and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third e book is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Pink Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.



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