Prana permeates all living beings and matter and pranic energy is the energy that moves the entire body system.
Secrets of the Five Prana
Vayus literally translates to wind, implying unrestricted and universal movement. So the prana vayus represent the inherent quality of motion, which energizes every action from secretion of the digestive juices to the movement of the hand. They flow through all the elements, organs and the mind.
The five vayus, namely Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana and Apana, maintain the balance between the physical and mental levels. Their physical locations are relevant in regard to the functions of the body; however, they function more homogeneously in the subtler levels of mind and consciousness, where their distinction is qualitative rather than physical. Pranic healers make use of these Panch Vayus for physical and mental healing purposes by finding the imbalances and restoring the balance in the movement of energy flow. In case of imbalances in energy flows, there are certain yoga asanas or poses, certain pranayam or breathing exercises and certain hand mudras which can help in balancing these energy flows.
A word of caution: The yogic texts often differ in their description of the five prana and their locations. This should not confuse the practitioner. One should remember that the energy body is comprehended in the realm of experience, where the boundaries are neither black nor white. The key is to continue honing one’s own experience.
The FIVE Pranic energies
Vayus, from time to time, due to reasons, goes out of sync and leads to an imbalance not only in the body but also in the mind and the spirit. Regular practice of Asana and Pranayama manage the smooth functioning of these Vayus. Practiced under the guidance of an expert teacher, this Pranic energy system is a highly effective alternate method of healing to keep the mind, body and spirit coordinated.
1. Prana Vayu. The Vitality Breath
Prana Vayu is seated in the heart and chest; anahata chakra and is governed by the element air. Prana moves down and up from the throat centre to the navel centre and energizes and all the other vayus and harmonizes the surrounds.
Prana vayu is the energy generated not only from the air we breath but receives energy from the food we eat, liquids we drink as well as all sensory perceptions and mental experiences.
(a) Prana Vayu is the energy that maintains Heart, Lungs, Breathing, swallowing and Blood circulation.
(b) Balanced Prana Vayu aids in ideating and offers mental stability.
(c) Prana Vayu is the energy that drives the life forward and any imbalance can lead to depression, feeling low, heart and lung related ailments.
Indications of Prana Vayu imbalance: When the pathways of prana are not clear, the heart and lungs malfunction and there is poor intake of oxygen. At the mental level, one is not able to bring in positive impressions. It is difficult to concentrate or access intuitive knowledge.
The base pranayama for Prana Vayu:
Bhastrika or Bellows Breath and it correspond to the Jalandhara Bandha (The Throat Lock).
Yoga Poses for Prana Vayu:
- Parivritta Janu Shirsha asana. Revolved head-to-knee pose.
- Adho Mukha Shvanasana. Downward facing dog pose.
- Downward-Facing Plank Pose.
- Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana. Upward-facing dog pose.
- Gomukh asana. Cow’s face pose
2. Apana Vayu. Anchoring Breath
Apana Vayu is seated in the abdomen and pelvic floor; muladhara chakra and is governed by the element earth.
Apana Vayu moves from the navel down to the floor of the pelvis and governs the ability to eject or eliminate what is not needed to the system.
(a) Governing kidneys, bladder, colon, rectum, bladder and genitals, Apana Vayu is also the energy that governors the process of procreation.
(b) A Balanced Apana Vayu speeds up the process of pranotthana; a perquisite for Kundalini awakening.
(c) Balance Apana Vayu balances emotions and negative thoughts.
Indications of Apana Vayu imbalance: Apana Vayu is the energy that moves the life forward and is known as the “the air that moves away” and any imbalance can lead to ailments related to poor elimination, skin like psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, digestion, menstruation, reproduction organs, depression, lazy, tired, indecisive, depression and negativity.
The base Pranayama for Apana Vayu:
Kapal Bhatti or the Skull shining/Brain purifying Forceful exhalation.
Yoga Poses for Apana Vayu:
- Prasarita Padottana asana. Spread legged standing forward bend.
- Vriksha asana. The tree pose.
- Ardha Padma Janu Shirsh asana. Bound half lotus head-to-knee pose.
- Baddha Kona asana. Bound angle pose
- Shalabh asana. The locust pose
3. Samana Vayu. Breath of Balance
Samana Vayu is seated in the abdominal area; manipura chakra and is governed by the element fire. Samana Vayu moves from the periphery of the body into the core and governs the assimilation of oxygen from the air we breathe.
(a) Samana Vayu is the energy that separates nutrients from toxins and is the Vayu that fuses, balances and stabalises Prana and Apana Vayu.
(b) Balanced Samana Vayu manages ego, mental peace and harmony.
(c) Samana Vayu is the energy that fuels the digestive fire, liver, stomach, deudenum, spleen, small and large intestines.
Indications of Samana Vayu imbalance: Samana, the equalizer, is disturbed whenever one’s mental peace and harmony is disturbed. The body becomes agitated and causes disorder, whenever there is turbulence in the body and in the senses. Any imbalance can also lead to ailments related to poor digestion and assimilation of food, toxic buildup, excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis, pancreatitis, anger, aggression, depression, low energy, indecisiveness and dullness.
The base Pranayama for Samana Vayu:
Surya Bheda or the Sun Breath and it corresponds to the Uddiyana bandha (the upward flying abdominal lock).
Yoga Poses for Samana Vayu:
- Parivritta Parshvakona asana. Revolved side angle pose.
- Utkata asana. Chair pose.
- Jathara Parivartana asana. Reclining abdominal twist.
- Nava asana. Boat pose.
- Marichy asana. Marichi pose, twist variation.
- Matsyendra asana. The Spinal twist.
- Paschimottana asana. posterior stretch (sitting forward bend).
4. Udana Vayu. Breath of Ascent
Udana Vayu is seated in the throat and the head area; vishuddha chakra and is governed by the element ether. Udana Vayu is the wind that which carries upwards from the throat to the head and controls the extremities as well as all the sensory functions.
Udana Vayu corresponds to the Throat (Vishudha) Chakra and Third Eye (Ajna) Chakra and balances Ether element. Udana Vayu is the Vayu for Meditation.
Jalandhara Bandha (The Chin lock) stimulates the energy and movement of Udana.
(a) Udana Vayu controls the speech, production of sound and thought expression and any imbalance can lead to health issues like tonsillitis, bronchitis, asthma and related throat & respiratory issues.
(b) Besides the respiratory issues Udana Vayu can also affect the nervous health and stubborn weight issues.
Indications of imbalance: An irregular udana causes breathing troubles, inefficiency in physical and mental work, inability to think clearly or express oneself, uncoordinated speech, weakened will and lack of cheer.
The base Pranayama for Udana Vayu:
Pranayama for Udana Vayu: Ujjayi (The Victory breath).
Yoga Poses for Udana Vayu:
- Setu Bandha Sarvanga asana. The Bridge pose.
- Viparita Karani. Inverted action pose.
- Sarvang asana. Shoulder stand.
- Hal Asana. The Plough.
- Matsya asana. Fish pose.
- Shirsha asana. The Head stand.
- Simh asana. Lion pose.
5. Vyana Vayu. Integrating Breath.
Vyana Vayu pervades the whole body and is the coordinating, balancing and the integrating force that binds everything together.
In the body, Vyana vayu runs through all the 72000+ nadis (the passageways of prana) connecting all the muscles, nerves, veins & joints and bringing about a sense of integrity & body cohesiveness.
Vyana vayu is the ‘outward moving vayu’ and functions as the outer boundary of the energy system and is associated with a sense of boundaries through which we define ourselves and interact with our world.
Vyana vayu corresponds to the Navel and Sacral (Swadisthana) Chakra and balances Water element. Emanating from the navel (kanda), Vyana vayu pervades the entire body connecting through Svadisthana Chakra and is governed by its element; water.
Indications of Vyana Vayu imbalance: When Vyana vayu, the expansive energy, is unbalanced, there is lack of coordination, tremors, inability to reach out to people, and the mind is erratic.
The base Pranayama for Vyana vayu :
Pranayama For Vyana: Anuloma Viloma. Alternate nostril breathing.
Yoga Poses for Vyana Vayu:
- Virabhadrasana I, 11, 111 | Warrior I, 2, 3.
- Chandrasana | Half moon pose.
- Garudasana | Eagle pose.
- The Balancing Poses.