Let’s look at some Tibetan yoga techniques some Buddhists use to prepare for meditation. In Tibetan Buddhism, the element of air and the breath are tied with the word “lung” or “rlung,” which is very similar in its multiple layers of meaning to the Indian word prana and the Chinese word qi. It refers to air and breath but also has spiritual reference to the animating principle that pervades our being. This wind energy supports our bodily systems and subtends our emotions, and should be understood as a physical rush of energy that accompanies all feeling.
Negative emotion should be understood in terms of imbalance in rlung energy within the context of Tibetan Buddhism, just as we understand emotional problems as the product of qi imbalance in Qigong. Working with wind energy is known as Yantra yoga. Some Yantra yogas are asanas or physical poses. These forms of yoga are understood as a category of outer yoga, but the wind yoga we are going to look at is called inner yoga. All seven aspects of physical outer yoga are linked with the five root types of wind energy, which are the five main types of wind energy found in the body.
The Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana is helpful for optimizing the flow of each of these important centers of wind. It helps the lower wind, the wind in the belly, and the wind in the heart naturally enter the central channel. Failure for proper entry into the central channel can cause physical and mental health problems.
The five kinds of wind:
- Lower wind — above the genitals. These perform the function of excretion and sitting in the full lotus posture causes lower wind to enter the channel.
- Winds in the abdomen — These aid in digestion and reside in the lower abdomen. Slouching compacts the abdomen and restricts breathing, habitually constricting this channel.
- Life-force wind — The heart center contains another kind of wind energy. Life force resides here. It is the most important of the root winds and keeps us alive. Keeping the spine straight helps wind energy in this center to enter the central channel. This is why it’s important to keep the spine straight.
- Upward-Moving Wind — This wind naturally abides in the throat.
- All-Pervasive Wind Energy — This resides in the skin and the flesh and covers the entire body underneath the skin.
Wind energy practice is beset conducted in the morning before you eat and after you practice 15–20 minutes of physical yoga. Let us look at a form of breathwork called the Nine Cycles of Inhalation and Exhalation. These nine cycles are broken up into three groups of three breaths, with the first six sets of inhalations and exhalations conducted using alternating nostrils. The mouth remains closed the entire time and we the practitioner should breathe only through the nose. Focus on the nostrils is central to teachings on wind energy training throughout Yantra Yoga.