After Savasana, Wind Removing Pose is the first floor posture in our Bikram yoga series. In class you often hear how it massages the ascending, descending and transverse colon, improving the health of the digestive and elimination systems- but this posture has many other benefits, too!
Pavanamuktasana is a great example of the "tourniquet effect" which is a tactic we exploit throughout the class. By compressing at one location in the body (in this case at the hip) we create a temporary buildup of blood which causes an increase in the blood pressure in another location (in this case, the abdominal area.) Think of it this way: your hip is the dam, and blood is building up in your abdomen like water behind the dam, pushing and pushing to get through the dam to your legs. That has the effect of stretching the blood vessels in the abdomen, improving their longterm elasticity, which is key for regulating blood pressure over time.
So as you pull your knee in to your shoulder, first right, then left the posture also aids the circulatory system in your legs, helping to flush the blood vessels and increase their elasticity by sending high-speed highly oxygenated blood down into the leg when you release your grip. That sweaty grip, by the way, is working to improve strength, circulation and mobility of the fingers, hands and wrists while toning the muscles of the arms. (The slipperier your leg is, the harder to grip- and the stronger your grip will have to become!)
Wind Removing also helps to open your hips and stretch tight lower back muscles. This posture is a classic posture used both within yoga and within physical therapy to soothe back pain. Some people even do this posture intuitively, without any instruction at all, for quick relief when their backs are hurting: It works!
One of the best ways to learn more about the postures is to read Bikram's "Beginning Yoga Class" book. Attend class 3 to 5 times weekly to put your learning into action and make your body smile!
Judy says, “Bikram yoga has fixed my diverticulitis. I used to get it several times a year, and would sometimes take double antibiotics and go on clear liquid diets to alleviate the pain and bloating. It sucked. I only got it once last year and that was a travel week when I hadn't been to class. Bikram yoga balances the added stress, lack of sleep and rich food and drink that often accompany our business trips. Now when we travel we try to have a yoga studio picked out to visit wherever we can!
“Practicing Bikram yoga also allows my mind to calm down after a full day of working on our own business. I have learned to breathe calmly through my nose, focus only on what's in front of me, and really listen, even when my brain thinks it's going to explode. When I do all of this the time flies by. And I forget about work for a while!
“I came to my first class in February 2016, because I stole my husband Alex's buddy pass. Then I told Alex he would hate it and it wasn't quite for him, so (of course) he tried it. The rest is history.
“Alex and I work together all day from home, and that can be challenging. Sometimes we need to ‘divide and conquer,’ and take yoga at different times. Whether we practice together or apart, after class I feel re-set mentally and emotionally and I'm a much nicer person to be around. We encourage each other to go to class even when one of us doesn’t feel like it- because we always feel better when we do.
Alex adds, “Bikram yoga has helped both of us with stress. I am just more relaxed in my work when I practice yoga on a regular basis. I’ve gained strength and flexibility, which I notice when walking and exercise in general. Bikram yoga also helps me with long plane trips! Since starting to practice I even feel more at ease when sitting in that middle seat on a long, long flight.
“When we’re in town, after an evening yoga class Judy and I often come home and have dinner together. It's a favorite time of mine. After an evening yoga class we are relaxed, laughing and putting our business and the rest of our lives aside. Having each taken time for ourselves, we are able to focus on each other and just enjoying our time together.”
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.