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Pawan means ‘wind’; mukta means ‘release’; and asana means ‘posture’. Pawanmuktasana, therefore, is a group of exercises that release wind and gases from the body. The pawanmuktasana series are very simple, yet they are most effective in regulating what are referred to in India as the humors: phlegm {kapha), wind (vata) and acid or bile (pitta).
According to the ancient medical science known as ayurveda, these three humors control all the functions of the body. If any irregularity arises in their functions, negative reactions take place in the metabolism of the body and disease results.
Wind (vata) not only refers to the gastric and intestinal gases but also to wind that is formed in every joint of the body, since due to incorrect chemical reactions rheumatic pains and stiffness occur. The acid and bile (pitta) refers to the juices necesary for digestion and such things as uric acid, which have to be regularly removed from the body. If there is excessive acid in the system, malfunctioning of certain organs occurs.
The practice of pawanmuktasana will help remove excessive wind and acid from the body, especially from the joints. The exercises are useful for convalescents, invalids and people who have difficulty moving their limbs. After a long period of time in bed one can gently re-educate the muscles by these exercises. They are also effective in relieving muscular ailments.
The pawanmuktasana series of exercises is divided into two distinct groups: the anti-rheumatic group and the anti-gastric group. These two groups should be performed in the order given in the text.


These exercises will beneficially influence the different joints and organs of the body. Though they seem very simple they have subtle effects on the practitioner. Therefore this group of exercise is sukshma uyayama in Sanskrit, meaning the ‘subtle exercise’.
This series of exercises should be preformed at the beginning of the daily asana session to loosen the joints and make the muscles supple. They are also intended for beginners and for those who are weak or sick, as well as for people with heart problems or high blood pressure or stiffness in the body.
Before starting pawanmuktasana practise shavasana to relax physically and mentally. Lie flat on your back, legs separated with hands beside you, palms facing upwards. Try to loosen all your muscles and joints. Become free of every kind of tension. Feel your body; become aware of your breath. You are relaxing. Watch your breath; see that it is natural and spontaneous, unforced. Count your breaths. During the practice of counting the breaths do not suppress any thoughts. Watch them as a witness, without being emotionally involved with them. Your main concern is to relax the whole mind and body. For the time being forget all your worries, anxieties and worldly problems. After a few minutes slowly move your arms and feet and sit up. Now you are mentally and physically prepared to start pawanmuktasana.

Exercise 1:


Toe bending Assume the base posture with legs stretched directly in front of the body. Place the hands on the floor by the side of the trunk. Lean backward taking support on the straight arms. Become aware of the toes. Move the toes of both feet slowly backward and forward, keeping the feet rigid. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 2:

Ankle bending Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Move both feet backward and forward as much as possible, bending them from the ankle joints. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3 : Ankle rotation


Remain in the base position as in exercise 1. Separate the legs, keeping them straight. Keep the heels in contact with the floor. Rotate the right foot clockwise from the ankle 10 times. Rotate the right foot in the same way but anticlockwise 10 times. Repeat the same procedure with the left foot. Then rotate both feet together.

Exercise 4 : Ankle crank

Ankle rotation

Assume the base position.
Place the right ankle on the left thigh.
With the assistance of the left hand, rotate the right foot clockwise 10 times, then anti-clockwise 10 times.
Repeat the same procedure with the left foot.

Exercise 5(i) : Knee bending


Assume the base position. Bend the right leg at the knee and clasp the hands under the right thigh.
Straighten the right leg without allowing the heel or toe to touch the ground.
Keep the hands under the right thigh but allow the arms to straighten.
Bend the right leg as much as possible at the knee, bringing the heel near the right buttock.
Repeat 10 times.
Now repeat the same procedure with the left leg.

Exercise 5(ii): Knee crank

Assume the base position.
Instead of stretching the right leg, hold the thigh near the trunk and rotate the lower leg in a circular motion from the knee.
Do this 10 times clockwise, then 10 times anti¬clockwise.
Repeat the same procedure with the left leg.

Exercise 6 : Dynamic spinal twist


Assume the base position.
Separate the legs as much as is comfortable. Keeping the arms straight, bring the right hand to the left big toe and stretch the left arm behind the back.
Keep both arms in one straight line.
Turn the head and look backward directing the gaze to the left hand.
Turn the trunk in the opposite direction; bring the left hand to the right big toe and stretch the right arm behind you.
This is one round.
Repeat 10 or 20 times.
At the beginning do the exercise slowly, and then gradually increase the speed.

If the pracitioner wishes, he can try to separate the legs further without bending them, and then repeat the entire exercise.

Exercise 7 : Half butterfly


Fold the right leg and place the right foot on the left thigh.
Place the left hand on the right foot and the right hand on the top of the bent right knee.
Gently move the bent leg up and down with the right hand allowing the muscles of the leg to relax as much as possible.
Repeat the same process with the left knee.
After some days or weeks of practice the knee should comfortably rest on the floor without effort.

Exercise 8 : Knee rotation


Remain in the same position as in exercise 7 but hold the right foot with the left hand.
Rotate the right knee in a circle, trying to gradually make the circle larger.
Does 10 times clockwise and 10 times anti-clock- wise.
Repeat the same procedure with the left knee.

Exercise 9(i):Full butterfly


In the base position bring the soles of the feet together. Try to bring the heels as close to the body as possible. Interlock the fingers and place them under the feet. Gently push the knees towards the ground, utilizing the elbows, and bend the body forward. Try to touch the ground with the head; this will be difficult at first.

Exercise 9(ii):Full butterfly


Keeping the soles of the feet together, place the hands on the knees.
Utilizing the arms, push the knees towards the ground, allowing them to bounce upward again. Repeat 20 or more times.

Exercise 9(iii) : Full butterfly

Maintain the same position but place the hands on the floor behind and to the side of the back, keeping the arms straight.
Move the knees up and down 20 or more times.

Exercise 10 : Crow walking


Squat on the floor.
Place the palms of the hands on the knees and begin to walk in the squatting position.
One can either walk on the toes or the feet; choose whichever is most difficult.
Do this exercise for a short time without strain. Crow walk touching the knee to the ground with each step.
This is a very good exercise to prepare the legs for meditation poses.
It is also recommended for people with poor blood circulation in the legs.
Constipation sufferers will find this exercise useful. They should drink 2 glasses of water and then crow walk for one minute. Drink 2 more glasses of water and crow walk again. Repeat this 3 or 4 times; this should remove the constipation.

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