(Photo: Lois Greenfield - From Emotional Yoga)
Cakravakasansa can be used in many ways to create different physiological effects.
This posture is ideal for modifying the breath, using sound to emphasize, focus, or create a vibratory quality in your body and mind, and for layering ideas, reflections, or thoughts as you move and breathe.
START on your hands and knees, hips aligned over your knees, and hands and wrists under and in alignment with your shoulders.
INHALE lift your chest forward and up.
EXHALE gently contract your belly, round your lower back, and bring your chest toward your thighs.
KEEP your chin slightly down as you come up, leading with your chest. On exhale, drop your chin and try to bring your chest toward your thighs before sitting on your heels. Avoid dropping your lower back or excessively rounding your upper back.
REPEAT 4 times, lengthening the exhalation with each repetition. Then exhale halfway down and pause — holding 2 seconds after exhale — then exhale all the way down, and hold 2 seconds after exhale. Inhale as you come up. Repeat 4 times.
Variation 1: Balancing the Components of the Breath — Effects: Balancing, slightly stimulating, good for low energy, depression, lethargy
Repeat the basic posture, but as you breathe, consciously make the inhalation and exhalation the same length. Lengthen both parts of the breath simultaneously. The important thing here is smoothness of breath. Do this breathing ratio with Cakravakasana to energize, stimulet, and create more focus.
Repeat 10 -12 times
Variation 2: Progressively Lengthening the Exhalation with Retention — Effects: Calming, reducing of agitation, anger, fear, anxiety
Repeat the basic posture, but as you breathe, place an emphasis on the exhalation. Your inhalation remains the same. As you lengthen the exhalation during the exhale phase of the posture, you will create a reducing and relaxing effect to your body and mind. At the end of the exhalation, retain your breath for a few sections. Then, begin the inhalation part of the posture as you move forward and up. After you exhale, you are empty. Observe how you feel practicing this breathing ration in Cakravakasana. Modify it in any way you need to.
Repeat 10 - 12 times
Variation 3: Progressively Lengthening the Inhalation with Suspention (Hold) — Effects: Tonifying, energizing, builds energy and focus
Repeat the basic posture, and as you breathe, place an emphasis on the inhalation. Your exhalation remains the same. As you lengthen the inhalation during the inhale phase of the posture, you will produce a nourishing and stimulating effect on your body and mind. Be cautions. Never push your breath. Observe how you feel after following this ration in Cakravakasana. Afterward, allow your head and neck to move with your breath to relieve any accumulated tension.
Variation 4: Using Sound (chanting) to Help Create Focus — Effects: can be calming, setting, and cooling, or energizing, heating, and enlivening, depending on the quality and pitch of your sounds.
A) A calming sound: on exhale, chant the sound "Ma" repeating the chant in one breath. Inhale and come forward and up. Repeat the exhale while chanting the word, "Ma" in whatever pitch seems natural for you.
Now repeat the word, "Ma" two times as you exhale back.
Then three times repeat the word as you move backward as you exhale.
B) Energizing sound: You can repeat the same word "Ma" but continue to increase the pitch as you move and chant. Or, you can repeat another word or sound, like: "Ra." You can use it in the same way as the first sound; and, as well, you can increase the pitch of the sound with every two repetitions.
Options: you may also breathe in stages — moving, then pausing, moving, then pausing, either in inhale and exhale, using sound or just breathing without sound.
After you have finished with your variations, you may sit or lie down and rest with your eyes closed, having a relaxed, alert awareness.
For more on breathing and movement, read "Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind" (Simon and Schuster, 2002)