Pranayama Element for July Practices:
Merudanda & Breath Energetics
Merudanda Mudra integrates the hands into a pranayama practice. These hand movements amplify sensation in the body; the rib basket (cage), the belly, and more. This practice invites pranic energy to rise, descend, expand, and condense. Neuro-muscular-skeletal connections provide a medium within which ti experience sensory and motor information.
Before beginning this practice, you may like to massage your hands. Wave your fingers, massage the massage point in the web of the thumb, along the bones of the thumb (which happen to correspond with the lungs!), the palm and back of the hand, and other places as you like.
The Practice: (Oshins, 2014; Morrissey, 2020)
Find a comfortable seat that allows your body "tube" to be at ease and spacious (see this week's
Begin with Natural Breath (easy inbreath, easy outbreath), simply watching breath come and go.
If you like, change the breath pattern to Ujjaii (Whew juh-eye-eee) Breath. Also know as Ocean Sounding or Victorious Breath (or Darth Vader Breath), this breath has an aspirant sound, a whispering sound, on inhale and exhale, through a closed mouth. It is the sound sleeping humans make when they are in deep sleep, or the breath used by yogis to support vigorous asana practice.
If done vigorously, Ujjaii Breath feels very warm, very heating to the body. If done for relaxation, it can cool the body, lower blood pressure, and more. Establish an easy, consistent Ujjaii Breath for a few moments.
Merudanda 1: Lower Body
With your hands shaped and placed as above in the image, continue Ujjaii Breath practice. Where do you feel energy and movement most easily? This hand position amplifies sensation in the base of your seat and in the lower abdominal area, lumbar spinal region, lower chakras if you like. Breath 20-25 breaths.
Merudanda 2: Mid-Body
Now bring the thumbs up, hands still comfortably on the legs. Continue Ujjaii Breath practice. Where do you feel energy and movement most easily? This hand position amplifies sensation in the mid-abdominal area, mid-rib cage/basket region, middle chakras. Breath 20-25 breaths.
Merudanda 3: Upper-Body
Now rotate the arm to bring the thumbs to pointing outward, away from the body, hands still comfortably on the legs. Continue Ujjaii Breath practice. Where do you feel energy and movement most easily? This hand position amplifies sensation in the areas above the heart, from mid-rib cage/basket region, upper thorasic spine, head region, upper charkas. Breath 20-25 breaths.
Return the thumbs to upright position, and breath, notice.
Return the thumbs to inward-pointing position, and breath, notice.
Explore the Merudanda Phases as you like for several moments.
Release the practice when you are ready. Return to Natural Breath in Sitting.
You may like to take a Savasana for several moments and harvest (Lisa Clark term I love it) the effects of the practice.
Calais-Germain, Blandine. (2006). Anatomy of Breathing. Eastland Press, Seattle, WA. USA
Chaitow, Bradley, & Gilbert. (2014). Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 2nd Edition. Churchhill Livingstone Elsevier Press.
Clark, LIsa. (2017-2020). www.embodiyogalisaclark.com.
Farhi, Donna. (1996). The breathing book: Good health and vitality through essential breath work. Holt Paperbacks.
Morrissey, Becky. (1989-2020). Personal Journal Writings.
Nestor, James. (2020). Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books. New York, NY. USA.
Oshins, Linda. (2014). Pranayama: A Compendium of Practices. Yoga On High, Columbus, OH. USA.