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Vayu's Gate: Yoga and the Ten Vital Winds Paperback – 27 Dec 2012
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About the Author
Orit Sen-Gupta has been practicing yoga for over 35 years. She has published various books about yoga, the most recent being The Heart of Practice: Understanding Yoga from Inside. She studied Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and teaches Vijnana Yoga and trains teachers in Israel, Europe and the Americas.
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But Vayu's Gate is more than a manual for correcting posture or increasing awareness. Orit sets this practice in the wider context of what she calls "A Culture Enchanted by Breath" or the fascination of the Indian mind with explorations of prana, quoting widely from the classical texts in illustration. For readers of a scholarly disposition, there's a resume in the appendices of a 70 year academic discussion on whether the Sanskrit prana denotes exhalation or inhalation. And yet, even here, Orit links this to her own pranayama practice, breathing life, as it were, into an otherwise obscure debate.
It is remarkable that she has taken the scant references in the yoga texts to rediscover the vayus and strange that such a powerful practice can have been lost. Her account of her journey of rediscovery is an object lesson in the value of slow, devoted exploration as opposed to instant achievement, of the value of appreciating the subtle effects of a practice built up over a long period of time. Yoga students who translate the lessons of this book into their own practice will be amply rewarded.
Sen Gupta demonstrates how these winds, areas of space within the body, were once integral to every aspect of yoga, but gradually fell out of use. After a fifteen year period of experimentation, Sen Gupta evolved a system to reintegrate them into her practice and teachings. A description of this path, and her discoveries as she trod it, are laid out with beautiful stylistic simplicity and accessibility, aided by pen and ink illustrations, and betray a truly profound knowledge of yoga.
In the first section, Sen Gupta explains how she discovered the Vayus, what they are and where they occur in the body. There are five outer and five inner distinct but interconnected Vayus. Some seem prosaic - Krikara Vayu, for instance, describes the action of sneezing. Some are dizzyingly profound - Prana Vayu is the wind of the heart, the seat of all life energy. Sen Gupta goes on to proscribe a `Vayu practise', activating the seat of each Vayu in turn. She then applies this practice to meditation, pranayama techniques, a range of asana and chronic, common postural misalignments . In the final section, Sen Gupta rifles the world of yogic literature, Sanskrit poetry and the Ramayana, to establish a = cultural context for the transformative power of breath and wind.
Teachers will find the descriptions of how to correct asana alignment without intrusive adjustments incredibly helpful, but students of every level would benefit from the clear depictions of the breath-led practices detailed here. It's a shame it's not available in a ring bound edition, as you can't practice with the relevant page open very easily. But as a fascinating description of how to quieten, deepen and expand, this is indispensible work for any truly curious student of yoga.