There are five main vayus of prana within our bodies that govern different systems and movements. By working with the vayus, a yogi can bring balance to the physiological systems and functions of the mind. Let us start first with the definition of prana. Prana is the Sanskrit word for life force, the energy that makes up the body. In Yoga there are three main prana energies with are the Ida, Pingala, and Shushumna. These energies will be looked further into in another post. For now let us focus on the prana vayu, and the five branches that are part of the prana, life force.
The Vyana Vayu governs circulation on all levels of the body, is expansive, and pervasive, and is physically in the peripheral nervous system. It moves through the center of the body in the lungs and expands throughout. To target this vayu try sitting with your eyes closed. Focusing on the inhalation and exhalation, feel the breath move through the lungs and into the extremities.
The Udana Vayu governs growth, speech, expression, ascension, and upward movement. It is physically in the throat and moves in a circular movement around the neck and head. To target this vayu sit with your eyes closed and visualize the breath moving up and around the neck and head.Samana Vayu
The Samana Vayu governs assimilation of all substances: food, air, emotions and experiences; discernment, inner absorption, digestion, and consolidation. It is physically in the naval, and moves from the periphery of the body to the center in a spiral motion. Its focus is to ground and stabilize the body. To experience the Samana Vayu sit or stand with eyes closed, focusing on the inhalation and exhalation as it moves the front, sides, and back of the lower torso.
The Apana Vayu governs the elimination, reproduction, downward and outward movement of the body. It is physically in the pelvic floor, and its energy moves throughout the lower abdomen and pelvis. To experience the Apana Vayu sit with eyes closed and visualize the breath and energy moving in a downward movement from the top of the head into the lower pelvis region and out.
The Prana Vayu governs the intake, nourishes the eyes and brain, inspiration, propulsion, and forward momentum of energy in the body. It is the fundamental vayu, energy, of the body and moves inward and upward. Prana Vayu feeds and moves throughout the other four vayus of the body. It is physically centered in the head at the third eye and throughout the chest region of the body. To experience the Prana Vayu sit with eyes closed and feel the movement of the breath moving from the belly up and in to the third eye.Bringing our prana into balance brings about balance throughout the body systems. The prana focuses on lifting, lengthening, and opening the upper body. Apana focuses on grounding and stabilizing the lower body. Vyana focuses on strengthening, and bringing about fluid sense of movement. Udana focuses on maintaining a long spine and correct posture. Samana focuses on opening and relaxing the body. When these are in balance together, the body moves and operates in a natural, graceful rhythm of health and vitality.
Sit or lie down with your eyes closed. Slowly tense the entire body, release. Take a deep inhalation, and let the exhalation out forcefully. Take a few moments to allow the breath to find a natural, comfortable rhythm. Now visualize the breath moving throughout each vayu, one at a time, starting at the top of your head with the Prana Vayu, and moving downwards and inwards. Once you have reached the last vayu, Apana Vayu, visualize the breath moving simultaneously in and out of each vayu, in synchronization with the breath and body.