Prana is the one life force that permeates all living things and in fact all matter. Though there are 49 distinct prana vayus or types of vayus in the body, five principle vayus or “pancha pranas” are important for the yogi to recognize. The word vayu translates as “wind,” connoting all-pervading movement. The root ‘va’ means “that which flows”.
The practices of yoga, especially asana and pranayama, optimize the functioning of these vayus as well as bring them under our influence. Their energies can then be used to uplift ourselves and restore vibrant health.
Hatha yoga is more than just flexibility or strength in postures; it is the management of prana, the vital life force that animates all levels of being. Prana enables the body to move and the mind to think. It is the intelligence that coordinates our senses, and the perceptible manifestation of our higher selves. By becoming more attentive to prana—and enhancing and directing its flow through the practices of hatha yoga—we can invigorate the body and mind, develop an expanded inner awareness, and open the door to higher states of consciousness.
Asanas ( postures), the physical aspect of yoga are only an instrument to develop our awareness. It does not refer to the ability to perform a handstand or an impressive backbend, but the ability to control our emotions, and strengthen our will-power. All these help us to break the wheel of discomfort in life building emotional balance and calmness of the mind.
Lately, I’ve been interested in the way that the vayus, or winds, move through the body and how they effect pranayama (breath control) and movement.
The yoga tradition describes five movements or functions of prana known as the vayus (literally “winds”)—prana vayu (not to be confused with the undivided master prana), apana vayu, samana vayu, udana vayu, and vyana vayu. These five vayus govern different areas of the body and different physical and subtle activities. When they’re functioning harmoniously, they assure the health and vitality of the body and mind, allowing us to enjoy our unique talents and live life with meaning and purpose.
Our life force, prana, divides itself into five vayus, each governing different functions and aspects of being.
|Vayu||Area of Body||Function|
|Prana||Chest, head||Governs intake, inspiration, propulsion, forward momentum|
|Apana||Pelvis||Governs elimination, downward and outward movement|
|Samana||Navel||Governs assimilation, discernment, inner absorption, consolidation|
|Udana||Throat||Governs growth, speech, expression, ascension, upwarhttp://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-5-prana-vayus-in-yoga-samanad movement|
|Vyana||Whole-body||Governs circulation on all levels, expansiveness, pervasiveness|
1) Prana–Vayu is situated in the head, centred in the third-eye, and its energy pervades the chest region.
Flow: Inwards and upward
Function: It nourishes the brain and the eyes and governs reception of all things: food, air, senses, and thoughts. This Vayu is the fundamental energy in the body and directs and feeds into the four other Vayus.
2) Apana–Vayu is situated in the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen.
Flow: Descending and out.
Function: Its energy nourishes the organs of digestion, reproduction and elimination. Apana-Vayu governs the elimination of all substances from the body: carbon monoxide, waste, emotions… etc.
3) Vyana–Vayu is situated in the heart and lungs and flows throughout the entire body.
Flow: Diffusing from the centre of the body to the periphery
Function: It governs the circulation and movement of all substances throughout the body.
4) Udana–Vayu is situated in the throat, moving to the neck and head.
Flow: Circular flow around the head and neck.
Function: Situated at the throat chakra, Udana Vayu functions to “hold us up” and governs communication, self-expression, cognition and
5) Samana–Vayu is situated at the navel.
Flow: From the periphery of the body to the centre.
Function: It governs the digestion and assimilation of all substances: food, air, experiences, emotions and thoughts. Qi Gong calls this area the dantian, or the very centre of life force and energy.
All 5 vayus are related to the ability to breathe and control the breath. Oftentimes, the lungs are seen as the main breath centre, but if you struggle to create breath control or rhythm throughout your practice, think about exactly where you feel the restriction within your body. The lungs and diaphragm are only one small part of moving the breath. Notice the way that energy may or may not be flowing through regions of your body and then refer to the vayus.