Saravāṅgāsana as a Mudrā – Part One

There are certain Yoga postures that, depending on how they are approached and utilised, can function as either an Āsana or as a Mudrā.

This distinction in function can be generalised around whether the practitioner focuses on a static form with the focus on the development of the breath or on a dynamic form with the development of the variations of and in the posture.

In other words, as to whether the focus is on the development of a specific number of respiratory ratios within the static form, or on the development of a specific number of physical variations or Vinyāsa Krama within the dynamic form.

One Yoga posture that can function in either role is Saravāṅgāsana or shoulder stand, it can be taught as an Āsana, or as a Mudrā.

In this post I will offer some preliminary steps in the development of the breath within the static form where the Bhāvana is on the performance of this Yoga posture as a Mudrā.

These respiratory Vinyāsa Krama are all based around a stay of 12 breaths as a starting point.

  • Step 1 – Establish a smooth and consistent Ujjāyī breath
  • Step 2 – Develop a basic Prāṇa Chest Inhale, Apāna Abdomen Exhale breathing rhythm
  • Step 3 – Develop the breath length to inhale 4″ exhale 6″
  • Step 4 – Develop the breath length to inhale 6″ exhale 6″
  • Step 5 – Develop the breath length to inhale 6″ exhale 8″
  • Step 6 – Develop the breath length to inhale 8″ exhale 8″
  • Step 7 – Develop the breath length to inhale 8″ exhale 10″
  • Step 8 – Develop the breath length to inhale 10″ exhale 10″

These eight steps represent an important first stage in the development of our relationship with the breath. Here we have seen a progression in the respiratory patterns. This respiratory Vinyāsa Krama will take a number of months to accomplish.

Firstly from developing a basic competence with Ujjāyī and relationship integrating the core energetic principles inherent within the Haṭha concepts of Prāṇa and Apāna.

Secondly with the transformation of the respiratory breathing patterns from a basic 6 breaths per minute pattern towards a core competence of respiratory stability with a breathing pattern of 3 breaths a minute. A considerable transformation already.

This also means that with the development of the slowing down of the breath, the same 12 breaths will now mean a stay of 4 minutes over the starting stay of 2 minutes. Hence another developmental step within the Vinyāsa Krama of Saravāṅgāsana as a Mudrā.

Future posts will offers suggestions for the further stages involving progression within developmental choices within breathing ratios through a further slowing of the respiratory rate through increasing the length of the breath and the incorporation of Kumbhaka or suspension into the ratios.

From there discussing processes by which Uḍḍīyāna Bandha and then Mūla Bandha can be added, if the capability of the practitioner and style and manner of the practice can allow and support their inclusion.

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