Ayurveda: Practices to Feel Like Yourself Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 6

Samana Vayu

35 min - Practice


Ali guides us in an energizing and heating Samana Vayu practice that draws energy to center and aids in digestion. You will feel nourished.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block


Read Full Transcript

Namaste. This will be our Samanavayu practice, and Samanavayu is the energy that lives in the belly that is responsible for digestion. So anytime that in our asana practice we're thinking of drawing in towards the middle, towards the core, we're utilizing that Samanavayu. It's very, very useful for kappa and for vata because with the kappa it heats things up, it gets things moving, and vata it's warming and energizing and stabilizing. So we're going to start kneeling and you'll bring your hands into pushan mudra.

So the index finger, middle finger and thumb come together on the right hand, and then on the left hand it's middle finger and ring finger with the thumb. You can place those upright on the thighs, sit up tall, and we're going to start with breath of fire. So breath of fire is a very heating, energizing breath. Ladies if you're pregnant or on the first day or so of your cycle you might want to skip this one. You can still hold the mudra and stay there and just stay with long, smooth breathing.

Otherwise let's start to heat it up. So you're going to inhale and exhale completely, and then you'll inhale halfway and begin your breath of fire. So a little different than kapalabhati with this one. It's quick sniffing breath in and out through the nose, even inhales and exhales. Sometimes people say it's like if a dog is panting and then you just keep your mouth closed and do it through your nose.

So breathe in, breathe everything out, and then let's inhale halfway and our first round will be a little bit shorter. Let's go. For five, four, three, two, one, deep breath in and gentle breath out. And then just take a moment and see if you can feel some of that energy starting to play around in the navel center and around the circumference of the waist. And then we'll do one more, one more round, just like that.

Breathing in, breathing out. Let's go for a little bit longer this time. Inhale halfway and go. For five, four, three, two, one, deep breath in and soft breath out. And then gently releasing your mudra and push on mudra is a mudra for nourishment.

So moving into a practice that is energizing, heating, and nourishing. You can slip your block off to the side and come onto your hands and your knees. Spread the fingers out, stack the wrists underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips, and then step your right foot back and tuck your right toes under and you can reach through the right heel and send the chest forward and then step your left foot back as well and come right into your plank pose. And then using the ankles and the feet for this, you can push a little bit forward and a little bit back and a little bit forward and a little bit back, just warming up the feet a little bit. But also utilizing the strength of the navel to keep the ribs knit in and the belly strong.

And then drop the knees and come into child's pose. And the whole time I'm really working to maintain ujjayi pranayam, so it's a heating breath as well. Come back onto hands and knees and step your left foot back and tuck your left toes under and then step your right foot back and your back and your plank. Push a little forward, push a little back and see if you can maintain one level across the spine here. So not going up and down, just straight forward and straight back.

And then drop the knees and come back into child's pose. And then come back onto hands and knees and this time tuck the toes under, lift the hips up and press back into your first down dog. Have your moment there to paddle through the feet or flutter through the lips or swing the hips a little bit, whatever feels good to you there. Working to keep the waist long, sitz bones lifting, head dropping. Lift your right leg up and step through.

Come into your lunge, open up your right arm in a twist and reaching up through the right hand, getting that nice twist at the waist. Place the right hand down and then a little bit of a tricky transition, step the left foot behind the right and you're coming into a cross-footed forward bend. And it's that bringing that energy into the midline, so let the head drop and squeeze the inner thighs together. And then you can soften the knees a little bit, push down into the feet and roll up to stand, eagle wrap, right arm underneath the left and then take your right leg up into an early eagle. And you can single or double wrap the leg and then start to fold forward, lifting the navel and letting the back of the waist open up.

And then bring the feet together right into Utkatasana. Powerful pose. Bend the weight back into the heels and feel the undersides of the legs start to support you here. Folding forward over the legs, Utkatasana. Step your left foot back into a lunge, plank pose.

And lower all the way down to the belly, you can drop your knees first. Bring up into Cobra and press back, downward facing dog. All right, lifting the left leg up and step forward, come into your lunge, opening up your left arm in a twist and even taking a gaze up past the left hand, getting that twist for the neck. It's so good for the digestion. Place the left hand down and step your right foot behind your left, coming into a cross-footed forward bend.

Squeezing in on the inner thighs, a little softening of the knees to come on up. Eagle wrap, left arm underneath the right. Take your left leg on top of your right, you can single or double wrap it in your eagle and start to fold forward. And these balancing shapes really encourage concentration and focus all relating to the third chakra, that area of digestion and Samanavayu. Utkatasana, bring the feet together, reach the arms up and then fold forward over your legs.

Step your right foot back into a lunge plank pose and lower all the way down. Tip your chest up into baby cobra, lifting through the nail for support in the lower back, downward facing dog. Let's build on that. Take your right leg up and step forward. Coming into your lunge, open up the right arm and twist.

Place the right hand down, step your left foot behind your right, cross-footed forward bend. Squeeze in on the inner thighs, soften the knees, roll on up to stand. Right arm underneath the left for eagle. Taking the right leg, twine it around the left, squeeze in on the inner thighs. And I'm drawing the right hip back as the lower back releases and opens.

Coming back into Utkatasana, bringing the feet together, reach up through the arms. This time, prayer the palms and take a twist, left elbow outside of the right thigh. And then once you get there, see if you can bend the knees a little bit deeper, sending the tailbone back, the chest forward. So we're looking for some length in our twist. From there, to release out, come all the way up, straight legs, reach the arms up.

And at the very top, lift up your heels. And you might wiggle around or wobble a little bit, that's okay. Squeeze in on the inner thighs, lift the navel, draw the ribs in. And then keeping the arms lifted and the heels up, twist to your right. And then come back to center.

That's the tricky part. And then twist to your left. And come back to center. Soften the knees, keep the heels lifted, divers pose. And then see if once you're in your divers pose, if you can start to straighten out the legs and keep sending the chest forward, squeeze into the midline.

Drop the heels, swing through, utkatasana, rise up, reach up. And on the exhale, folding forward all the way down. Send your left leg back into a lunge and let your left knee drop. Coming onto the top of the left foot, reach your arms up, crescent lunge. There are the palms.

And once again, you'll take your twist. Left elbow to the outside of the right thigh, pressing into the palms to turn at the waist. From there, if you'd like, you can tuck the back toes under and straighten out the back leg. If you need something more grounding, keep the back knee down. And remind yourself to stay full in the breath.

Bring the hands down on either side of your right foot, hop your back foot in a little bit and straighten out both legs. Coming into parsvottanasana, let the head fall, keep the side waist long, stretch out through the side waist, looking for all of that length through the spine. And the forward folds are also very good for digestion. And then turn all 10 toes to face the side. You're coming into your prasadipadottanasana.

So even out the feet. And then I like to walk my hands over towards the left ankle. Hold onto the left ankle with both hands and bend the right knee out wide to the right. And this gets the side waist to open. And I'm even gazing a little bit underneath my right arm and working to widen my right thigh away from my inner left thigh.

Come through center, walk the hands over to the other side. Catch your right ankle with both hands, bend your left knee wide. And let the ribs unstick from each other a little bit. And then release that. Walk back over towards the right foot, come back into your lunge, look forward, standing split with the left leg up, and drop the head.

And work to keep the hips as even as possible here. You could even walk the hands back, steady the gaze. You might work on the balance for a moment. And then hands can come down, tuck your left knee and have a seat for spinal twist. Artematsi andrasana.

So if your bottom knee is feeling this one, you can just straighten out the left leg. Otherwise, keeping the left knee bent and take your twist. And in your twist, try to keep as much length in the spine as possible. And take a few breaths there. And this is one that sometimes I have a tendency to crank myself into.

So I try to think of the twist happening more from the inside out as opposed to working too hard to muscle into it. Stay for one more breath. You might twist a little deeper with your breath out. And take a counter twist in the opposite direction. And then we're coming into navasana, but to echo what we did before, legs stay crossed in navasana.

So right leg on top, left leg underneath. And if your lower back is feeling this one, you just keep the knees a little bent. And you can reach the arms forward. What I like to do here is bring the fingertips down with the arms straight. Take a breath in and then on the breath out, push the hands down and forward and see if you can get the legs in a little bit closer.

And deep breath in and on the breath out. Push the fingers down and forward and get the legs in a little closer. One more time. Breathe in, breathe out, push the fingers down, squeeze the legs up. And then bring your right knee into your chest, letting your left leg fall to the ground.

Open up the right thigh for jhanu sarsasana. That should feel nice and cooling just to come forward. Let the head drop, walk the hands out towards the left foot and bow on in. And just having a moment of a cooling forward bend, but you're still compressing the internal organs. You're still getting that samanavayu working here.

And then roll your way back up. Take your right hand outside of your right hip, lift yourself up onto your shin for a stargazer. You can let the head fall back and then come on down, cross your left ankle in front of your right, roll over to hands and knees, step back, plank pose and lower all the way down. Coming up into a cobra. And if you want to swing it up into up dog, you can do that and press back, downward facing dog.

Lift the left leg up. Stepping forward, come into a lunge, open up your left arm and twist. And then place the left hand down and step the right foot behind the left cross-footed forward bend, dropping the head. Squeeze in on the inner thighs, coming up to stand. Left arm underneath the right.

Press leg on top for eagle and coming forward. And you can even move the hands a little bit away from your face and even try to get the elbows over the top of the left thigh. Utkatasana, bring the feet together, reach up through the arms and twist. Right elbow to the outside of the left thigh this time. Again, the gaze up past the left shoulder and I'm still drawing the right hip back and there's a little bit of a give in the hips.

We're not locking them into place, but emphasizing the twist coming from the waist and above. Push into the feet, come all the way up, reach the arms up, long straight legs and then lift up the heels. And I'm almost imagining that I'm gathering the whole periphery of the body in towards center, keeping the heels lifted and turning. And come back to center. And this one makes me sweat more than anything else and then turn to the other side.

And come back to center. Exhale softening of the knees to come into divers pose, reaching the arms back, stretching the chest forward and then lifting and lengthening the legs. Pass through your utkatasana, reach up, get long and on the exhale fold yourself forward. Turn the right leg back into a lunge and let the back knee drop and then reach the arms up coming into the crescent, open the front body, get some space there and then bring the palms together and twist right elbow to the outside of the left thigh this time. And you'll either stay there or tuck the back toes under, straightening out the back leg.

Breathing into the waist, getting some space there across the chest. And then bring your hands down on either side of your left foot, hop your back foot in a little bit, straighten out both legs. And in this parsvottanasana I'm getting more of a heel to heel alignment there and that gives my hips a little bit more space to level out. So drag the left hip back, extend the side waist out and let the head fall. Relax the neck.

And then turn all 10 toes to face the side. Drag and widen the stance here and walk the hands over towards the right foot and bend the left knee out wide to the left and release and walk back through center and hold onto the left foot and bend the right knee and release. And then walk both hands over towards the left foot coming into a lunge, right into standing split, lift the right leg up. Leveling out the hips, walk the hands back, if you like to play with the balance there you can try that. And then right down into your seated spinal twist, arthamatsya andrasana.

Tuck the right knee behind the left and I'm looking for some length there in the spine before I go into my twist and then taking the twist around and I'm pressing the sacrum forward to keep the chest up, working to drop the shoulders down and gentle breath there. It's a pretty intense pose. Even though it gives the legs a minute to release after the standing poses, there's a lot of work happening in the belly and in the muscles along the spine. And then take your counter twist opposite direction, bring the legs up, navasana with crossed legs, reaching the hands forward, fingertips down and it doesn't look like much this one but I'm feeling it a lot. Push the fingers down and move the legs closer.

And you can make that noise too. And then breathe in and on the breath out push the fingers down and squeeze the legs a little closer. And last time, push the fingers down, squeeze the legs in and then hug the left knee into the chest, let the right leg fall, open out through the left leg, you'll come into your nice cooling jhanu after that, walking the hands forward. And there's a little bit of a twist in the jhanu, I'm working the left ribs across here and then just letting the head fall, reaching the hips back, softening the breath. And then roll your way back up and take your left hand outside of your left hip, lift yourself up onto your shin for the stargazer and then come on back down, cross your right ankle in front of your left, roll over to hands and knees, you'll step back into plank pose and then either lower to your belly and take a cobra or chaturanga into your up dog and press back down dog.

Roll out to plank and keep the knees a little bit more parallel for child's pose. And then take your hands underneath your shoulders and roll up to sit on your heels and I'm going to spin around to face you for this next part, we're going to be working on sidecrow, parsva bakasana. So let's start off in tiptoe pose and that means that I'm bringing the feet together, the knees together, bend in the knees and then lift the heels up and let's come back into pushan mudra, so that means index finger and middle finger and thumb on the right hand and middle finger and ring finger on the left hand, look for some length in the spine and just breathe a little bit here and if sidecrow is not a part of your practice today, you'll stay here and this is great for the core as well. If you would like to move on, take your twist and I like to try to line up my left pinky with my right pinky toe, hands come about shoulder width apart, elbows are moving back, I'm squeezing the knees in towards each other, tipping the body weight forward to lift the legs and then if you'd like to split them, you can reach the right leg forward, the left leg back, legs stay very active, bringing the knees back together and landing back in your tiptoe pose and then give everything a little shake out, let it go and we'll try the other side, so coming back into pushan mudra for a moment, index finger, middle finger and thumb and then middle finger, ring finger and thumb, breathe and then checking in parsa bakasana on the other side, twisting over towards your left, lining up right pinky with left pinky toe, separating the hands shoulder width, squeezing the knees together, getting that tight fold on the belly and lifting up and then if you're going to split the legs, I'm bringing the body weight more forward for that, reaching the left leg forward, right leg back and then bring the knees together, come back into center and shake it all out and then let that go, come onto your knees and for this part you're going to need your blanket, so grab your blanket and we'll take the blanket like it just came off the stack and then make a nice tight roll and I'm rolling it up from the fringe side first and giving myself a nice smooth roll there and then it's an intense one, this is very very good for digestion, so in Ayurveda digestion is really the answer with everything, if we're not properly digesting even if we're eating the most nutritious diet, it's not going to really utilize the way that it should, so with this blanket I'm bringing it right underneath the bottom ribs and it should land right about at the navel and it's one of those kind of feelings and you can start up on the forearms here and just let yourself fall into the blanket, let your belly go, take a few deep breaths and you might even start to feel the pulse in your belly and then if it's not too much you can start to bring the head down, maybe making a little pillow for your head, turning your head to one side, having a couple of breaths there and then turning the head to the other side for a moment, a couple of breaths there and I want to be clear about this being good for digestion, this is good for digestion when it's slow or sluggish, it's not great for digestion when it's overly speedy or fiery and then you can let that go, come back up onto your forearms and from here I'm sliding back a little bit so that the blanket is a little higher up on my body, more towards the top ribs and then bend the knees, reach back for the ankles and you're coming into a very supported dhanurasana here and you're using the blanket to hold the chest up, just getting a little extra stimulation across the navel and I'm keeping the thighs on the ground here, thinking more of the blanket under the belly and less of going into a deep back bend and then gently release, come back up onto the forearms, you can push back a little bit and just slip your blanket off to the side to lie down on your back and we're going to close with actually one of my very favorite breath exercises to really identify udiyana bandha, so separate the feet a little bit wider than the hips, let the inner thighs spiral inward and press the hips up coming into your bridge pose. At the very top of your bridge pose, take your arms over your head, just let them rest on the ground behind you and if that feels like a lot for your shoulders, you can open the elbows out a little bit wider, otherwise arms over the head, take a full breath in, breathe everything out, hold the breath out, hold it out, hold it out, hold it out and in the holding out, lower the hips down and you'll feel this delicious vacuuming that happens of the belly moving up underneath the ribs and that is your udiyana bandha, you're flying a block and then breathe in and breathe out, let's try that again, keeping the arms overhead, push into the feet and lift the hips, lift lift lift lift lift and then breathe everything out, hold the breath out and gently release the hips down, holding the breath out, holding the breath out, holding the breath out, feel that lift, feel the lock and then gently breathe in and breathe everything out, third and final time, press the hips up, take a breath in, breathe everything out, hold the breath out, hold it out, hold it out, lower the hips down, keeping the breath out and then as you need to breathe in, let the belly expand and fill up, let it go, you can take your hands onto the very lowest part of the belly, just give your stomach some love and one of my teachers always says where awareness goes, energy follows, so just bringing a little extra awareness to the belly here through the touch of the hands, have a few breaths and then you can stretch the arms and legs out and come right into your shavasana.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. And then let your next breath come in a little bit deeper, exhale it away, make some little movements with your fingers and your toes, walk the soles of the feet in, place them on the ground and gently rolling over onto your right side and you can use the arms to come on up to sit. Namaste.


Martha K
4 people like this.
Yummy, spicy and feels so good. My tummy is warm and feels the love!
Jenny S
3 people like this.
Loved the final pose before savasana (no spoilers)...totally cool supine way to sink into a posture I’ve only ever done up on my feet. This made the experience easily accessible and actually quite comforting. My digestive system thanks you!
2 people like this.
Ooo, thanks for sharing that 'teaser' of sorts Jenny! Adding this class to my queue :)
Christel B
1 person likes this.
Really appreciating these vayu practices.  As well as the focus on our dosas and how to appreciate and do what’s helpful for our vita, pita, and kapa natures.  Thank you Ali for your dynamic sessions.  
Ali Cramer
1 person likes this.
Christel  thank you for the support! I loved doing this series. Namaste! 
Ali Cramer
Jenny hahaha! I love doing "that pose" that way too! Namaste! 
Jenna Z
This was EXACTLY what I needed today.  Thank you for this gift!! 
Ali Cramer
Jenna I love to hear that! Thanks so much! Namaste, Ali
Ali Cramer
Martha that third chakra love is always spicy! 😜 Namaste, Ali 
Sandra Židan
Wonderful practice! Thanks, Ali, for sharing it with us! Namaste!
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