Akasha and Udana Vayu – The Path to Freedom of Self Expression
Akasha, or the ether (space) element is said to be the emptiness in which all the other elements exist. Space is needed so that the elements may interact and form the seen world so that we might experience it. Akasha is also said to be the expression of our consciousness. That all pervading, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent experience that links all of life together. The vehicle to express our consciousness is sound. We vocalize our intentions and experiences out into the ether to be carried on waves of sound to the ears of others. Without Akasha, there is no freedom of expression as there is no sound.
Udana vayu, or the upward movement of energy is concentrated in the throat area. It is the energy that gives governs our communication through speech and hearing as well as our ability to speak our truth and express ourselves through words. Udana vayu can be stimulated by many practices but most notably the practice of chanting or mantra is the most potent.
Both Akasha and Udana vayu are concentrated in our throat and therefore have a deep association with communication. We all experience times when we struggle to communicate our intentions or expectations with others clearly and effectively or when the words we speak are not aligned with our highest truth. The words we speak hold immense power and it is important that we create an environment within us that is conducive to effective self-expression. When you feel you need a deeper connection to your ability to speak and hear clearly, try experimenting with one of these techniques regularly over the course of a week and see how the quality of your experience (mental – physical – emotional) expands and deepens!
Asana: Matsyasana or Fish pose is a lovely posture that stretches the front of the throat and strengthens the back of the neck and upper back. There are many variations of this pose ranging from restorative to incorporating deep hip opening. Choose the one that suits your energy level at the time!
Restorative: Place a block along your spine between your shoulder blades and lay back over it. Support your head with a blanket or block and allow your arms to open to the side.
Active: Lean back on your forearms with your fingertips touching your hips/glutes. Lift the
Squeeze the shoulder blades together to lift the sternum up to the sky and allow the top of your
head to touch the ground behind you.
Hip Opening: Find half lotus with your legs and hold the feet with your hands. Allow your
elbows to touch the floor and squeeze the shoulder blades together to lift the sternum up to the sky and allow the top of your head to touch the ground behind you.
Core Focused: Set up as in the active variation. Once established in a steady and stable posture, draw your palms together and extend the arms straight over the hips. Lift your feet and legs off the floor and extend them straight out on the diagonal. Enjoy the ride!
Pranayama: Bhramari or Bee’s Breath is an accessible breath practice that involves a vocalization to stimulate both akasha and udana vayu. It also is deeply internalizing and calming. Find a comfortable seated shape, close the eyes and press your thumbs over your tragus (flap of cartilage just in front of the ear opening) to close the ears. Allow the rest of the fingers to lightly touch the forehead. Inhale calmly through your nose and make an audible humming sound on your exhale. Keep the eyes and ears closed as you repeat this breath six times. Pause for a few moments after six repetitions and complete another six rounds of breath in this manner. Once two cycles are complete, sit quietly and observe.