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Apanasana (Pavanamuktasana or Knees to Chest Pose)

Apanasana or Pavanamuktasana or Knees to Chest Pose - Fitzabout

Apanasana, also known as Pavanamuktasana or Knees-to-Chest Pose, relieves excess digestive air, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity and constipation.

Experts believe that regular practice of this asana gives great relaxation to the body, mind and spirit. The pose helps in relieving tension in the lower back, hips and thighs. It calms the stiffness of the spine while toning the muscles of the abdominal wall.

It is often recommended for individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

Information

Known as:Apanasana, Pavanamuktasana (Pawanmuktasana), Knees to Chest Pose, Vatayanasana, Wind Release Pose, Gas Release Pose, Apasana, Resting Gas Release Pose, Wind Removing Pose, Wind Liberating Pose, Supine Knees-to-Chest Pose, Vayu Muktyasana, Supta Balasana
Sanskrit name:अपानासन; पवनमुक्तासन
IAST:Apānāsana; Pavanamuktāsana
Pronunciation:ah-pahn-AHS-uh-nuh; PUH-vuhn-mukt-AAHS-uh-nuh
Level:Beginner
Type:Reclining, relaxation, supine, forward bend
Total time:10 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Eyes closed;
Forward;
Third eye, between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhye or Ajna Chakra)
Chakra:Manipura Chakra
Indications:Back, Digestive System, Reproductive System, High blood pressure
Counterpose:Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Preparatory poses:Supta Matsyendrasana, Ardha Pawanamuktasana
Follow-up poses:Supta Baddha Konasana, Matsyasana, Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Contraindications:Hernia, knee injuries

Meaning + Origin

Apanasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words —  Apana + asana:

  1. Apana” = “downward-flowing life force”
  2. asana” = “pose or posture or seat”

The Pavanamuktasana made up of three Sanskrit words —  Pavan + mukta + asana:

  1. Pavan” = “wind or gas”
  2. mukta” = “release or free or freedom”
  3. asana” = “pose or posture or seat”

In yoga, apana is a bodily energy that acts opposite to “prana”, which is considered the vital life force. Apana is one of the 5 pranas that symbolize the opposite of prana (the upward-flowing life force).

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Prana gives life to the body through breathing and other techniques, however, apana is a destroying force, as it helps to remove toxins from the body, and hence its name. It flows down and out of the body, removing impurities through the lungs and excretory system, therefore, practicing Apanasana relieves the pressure of this force of elimination, helping to effectively reduce and remove waste, toxins and stress from the body.

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Apanasana create bowel movements in the Vata Dosha body, which frees the excess of Apana Vāyu. That’s why Apanasana is also called Wind or Gas Release Pose (Pawanmuktasana).

Benefits of Apanasana (Pavanamuktasana)

Even this simple pose has long term benefits on the whole body. Repeated practice of Apanasana (Knees to Chest Pose) leads to toning of the abdominal muscles. The physical and mental benefits are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Stretches the spine and shoulders
    • Massages the abdominal organs and back
    • Improves digestion
    • Relieves from excess digestive air, indigestion, bloating, constipation, flatulence and acidity
    • Opens the hips
    • Relieves lower back pain[1]
    • Reduces menstrual cramps[2]
  2. Mental Benefits:

Steps to Apanasana (Pavanamuktasana or Knees to Chest Pose)

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor with the legs extended.
  • Bend your knees towards your chest and separate your knees. Place your hands just below your knees. Point the feet and keep the toes together.
  • Draw your knees together and wrap your arms around the legs.
  • Roll to your right.
  • Roll to your left.
  • Stay for 10 seconds and repeat the process for several times, then rest on your back or in Savasana.

Variations

One-Legged Knee to Chest Pose

Instructions:

  • Start by lying on the back, with your legs and arms extended.
  • As you exhale, draw both knees towards the chest. Clasp your hands around them.
  • While holding only your left knee, drop your right leg and extend it to the floor. Stay in this posture for 60 seconds.
  • Pull your right knee back towards your chest and clasp your hands around both knees again.
  • Grabbing only your right knee, drop your left leg and extend it along the floor. Stay in this posture for the same amount of time.
  • Finally, draw both the knees towards your chest.
  • While exhaling, release both the feet along the floor and relax.
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Wind Release Pose Knees Apart

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your feet hip width apart and hands apart from the body, and relax with a deep breath. With each exhalation, bring your attention to your body and relax.
  • Taking a deep breath, raise your legs to 90 degrees and exhale completely.
  • Now, while inhaling one more breath, bring both the knees close to your chest and hold the knees with the hands and press on the stomach. Exhale here completely.
  • Keep your knees bent for a few breaths. Be aware to maintain distance between knees and feet. Most often, the thighs will be pressed against the sides of the abdomen. With each exhalation, press the thighs and knees on the stomach and hold them with your hands.
  • Keep the breathing rhythmic and enjoy the stillness of the pose with a calm mind. Wait as long as you can.
  • After a good 60-second hold, release your hands and place your feet on the floor. Spread your legs. Once you finish the pose, open your legs and arms wide and relax in Corpse Pose (Savasana).

Precautions and contraindications

In fact, it is classified as a beginner level pose, but some precautions and contraindications are necessary, but these can be overcome with the proper guidance of an experienced teacher/instructor in the field of yoga. They are explained below:

  • Slip disc is considered a serious matter and hence should be avoided during the practice of this yoga asana. The patient’s condition should be well understood, and then this practice should be started.
  • The advanced stage of spondylitis may not be a good thing, and therefore avoid practice to Pavanamuktasana.
  • An individual with any problem related to the internal organs of the lower abdomen should avoid Wind Release Pose or seek the guidance of a yoga teacher/instructor while practicing.
  • An individual with severe migraines should not try this as the pressure around the abdomen makes it difficult to breathe, which puts pressure on the head.
  • High blood pressure or low blood pressure practitioners should do Steps to Apanasana (Knees to Chest Pose) under the guidance of the teacher. One can start this yoga asana by practicing with one leg in the form of Half Wind Release Pose.
  • A person suffering from asthma must understand the flow of breath before practicing this yoga pose, and the pressure around the chest and lungs can cause tension during breathing.
  • Normally during the female cycle, the uterus gets bigger which makes it difficult to press on the abdominal area. Therefore, it should be avoided during this time.
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Co-founder Anjali Kumari - FITZABOUT

Written by Anjali Kumari. She is a certified yoga instructor, Diploma in Make up, Nails and Beauty, Diploma in Nutrition, Food, Science and Menu Planning. Anjali is the destination of choice for the latest updates, tips and resources in beauty, health and wellness, and all topics that mean the most to today’s woman. Whether it’s advice from a trusted expert or a DIY tutorial, she has it all. She is passionate and obsessive about science and how it can be applied in daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine and proper nutrition is the key to achieving good health and beauty. When she is not working, she likes to spend quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and healthy choices for foods to promote good health.

Article Sources
  1. Romana Romanov, Mirjana Radak Fakultet za sport i turizam, Univerzitet Educons Novi Sad, Serbia: Yoga exercises for lower back pain[]
  2. International Journal of Physiotherapy and Research, Int J Physiother Res 2019, Vol 7(4):3129-34. ISSN 2321-1822; DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.16965/ijpr.2019.140: EFFECT OF YOGASANAS ON MENSTRUAL CRAMPS IN YOUNG ADULT FEMALES WITH PRIMARY DYSMENORRHEA[]

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