Pawanamuktāsana is a set of postures that purify the network of energetic channels within the body. These exercises are often referred to as mobility exercises and they are. They do help to break up the layer of fascia that blankets the entire body helping to maintain the functionality of the body. Every night when we go to sleep our bodies lay down a layer of fascia. When we get up and we move throughout the day we brake up the fascia. If for some reason we get up and but we don’t move the layer of fascia remains. If we do this repeatedly the layer of fascia can become so thick that our range of motion is inhibited.

Pawanamuktāsana is more than just mobility exercise. These exercises work to dislodge the gunk that can become lodged within the energy channels. They also create energy within the body, and they move gunk out of the body. These exercises are focused on the health of the fascial network. Fascia is the sheath of hair-like fibers that blankets our muscles, connective tissues, and bones. The fascial network encases our muscles linking them to one another to create larger chains of muscles. The fascial network also houses a network of energetic channels that acts somewhat like a second nervous system transporting information throughout the body. This is the vibrational energetic information that enlivens our being. Our thoughts and emotions are also traveling along these channels, and sometimes when they are too difficult for us to process they are stored in the fascial network. These trapped thoughts and feelings can attract other thoughts and feelings building a collection much like a knot in your hair. These knots can start to block the channels and when these channels become blocked they cause excessive pressure and even pain. 

It is important to do pawanamuktāsana as preparation for yoga āsana. If the body is not cleansed yoga posture can exacerbate these knots and cause a blowout. More specifically if the energy channels and the fascial network is not degunked so that the energy flows freely āsana can do more harm than good. 

There is a lot of flexibility and room for creativity in these types of exercises. Just keep the following principles in mind. 

  • Move every joint in all of its different ranges of motion
  • Move dynamically, quickly
  • Let your breath follow the movement 
  • Use abdominal exercises to build energy
  • You can find a list of traditional exercises in the book Āsana, Prānayama, Mudra, Bandha.


The feet are so important. They need to be flexible and strong so that they can keep us upright, they help us move, and they save us from falling. Often when we feel we have knee problems or back problems, we really have a habit of using our feet in a less than optimal way. The feet house important cakras, that connect us to the Earth. They also serve as the foundation for the rest of our structure. Degunking and reestablishing the flow of energy in the feet is vital and helps us correct misalignments in the feet realigning the body. 

Practice movements…

  • dorsiflexion
  • plantarflexion
  • circumduction 
  • flexion and extension of toes

Postures such as…

  • toe squat
  • vajrāsana
  • abc exercise
  • kauit foot work
  • tennis ball work
  • fingers between the toes


The knees do not move in many directions. You can bend and straighten the knees lying on the back, seated or standing. There are few I like. 

  1. Standing with the feet hip distance bend the knees, bring the hands to the knees, and circle the knees over the feet. Breath naturally
  2. Standing with the feet hip distance soften the knees and hinge from the hips bringing your belly to your thighs. Inhale and squat lifting the heels and keeping the belly and the thighs together. Exhale back to forward fold. 
  3. Sit with the knees bent soles of the feet on the floor. Hold one leg with both hands, keeping the chest lifted, bring the leg in toward the chest. Lift and lower the foot. then circle the foot. 


The hips have much more range than the knees. The hips flex and extend, the leg bone rotates in and out, the legs can move apart and together. That means that there are a lot of exercises that you can do for the hips. Again they can be done lying on the back, sitting, or standing. Some of my favorites are…

  • The forward folding exercise for the knees
  • Malasana moving the knees out and moving the knees in. 
  • Standing hip circles
  • Hips circles in hands and knees
  • Supine hip circles
  • lizard hip circles
  • dynamic half splits
  • dynamic ustrasāna


Again there are many ways to move the spine.

  • Flexion/Extension
  • Left Side Bending/Right Side Bending
  • Rotation
  • Axial Extension

I like to explore these exercises…

  • body rolls both directions
  • side bends
  • cat/cow
  • dynamic camel
  • pelvic circles
  • thoracic circles
  • dynamic twisting


The shoulders actually move more than most of us think. The shoulder blades move together and apart. They move up and they move down. They tip forward and they tip back. This is an area where we need to break free of restriction and explore all the possibilities of movement. Some of my favorite ways to move my shoulders…

  • shoulder pulses
  • strap circles
  • scapula circles


We are often told to look at the toes in forward folding postures. Looking at the toes can be helpful, especially when learning how to keep the shoulders broad and the heart open. However,  looking at the toes should never be maintained as the ultimate alignment of the pose because it may cause a kink the energetic channels or the spine. Instead, once the torso is aligned look down, bringing the head in line with the spine, reaching slightly from the back of the crown [the place where babies have a soft spot] to maintain the natural curve in the neck. 

Modes of Practice

Forward folds can be done in both a dynamic way [yang] or in a passive way [yin]. When done in a dynamic way we are creating the alignment mentioned above with action, using muscular strength and fascial contraction. This mode should be done with a great deal of focus on keeping the alignment precise, but should only be done in short sessions for instance just holding for five to ten breaths at a time. This type of action creates functional strength and stability. 

When forward folding in a passive way, the alignment is supported. For instance, you may use a blanket to rotate the hips forward, a bolster to support bent knees, and two blocks to hold the feet. Once the body is entirely supported, in the position that you want to create [proper alignment], then the body is completely relaxed, especially relaxing the tissues in the body that you are trying to change. Practicing in this way requires that the tissues that you want to change [by stretching or releasing]  be completely malleable, completely relaxed, and then staying that way for a long time, maybe three to five minutes. This type of action creates space in the body by breaking of fascial adhesions and lengthening connective tissues. 



  • They bring space to tight lower backs, and movement to stiff lower backs. 
  • FF strengthen the legs, the abdominals, the back. 
  • Opens the gluteus, the chest, the feet, and the hamstrings, calves, achilles tendon. 
  • Improves posture. 
  • Activates parasympathetic nervous system


  • Calms the mind.
  • Relieves anxiety. 
  • Develops inner wisdom.


  • Activates mūlādhāra cakra. 
  • Cultivates groundedness, rootedness. 
  • Clears energy channels in the front and the back of the body depending on the FF variation. 
  • Opens the sahasrāra cakra
  • Connects mūlādhāra and sahasrāra. 
  • Balances iḍā nāḍi [left] and piṇgalā nāḍī [right] 
  • Joining the energy of left and right, front and back stimulates suṣumṇā. 
  • Joins the inner energy


  • Severe pelvic injury
  • Slipped discs and back injuries
  • Pulled hamstrings
  • Lumbar hernias
  • Abdominal inflammation 
  • Enlarged organs


  • Pawanamuktāsana should be done at the beginning of class. I like to do it before I do any breath work or meditation because I find it to disrupt whatever focus I have developed. 
  • Teach some breath awareness after pawanamuktāsana to balance its invigorating effects, cooling the body, and focusing the mind. 
  • I like to follow the breath awareness with a rhythmic namaskara.