Prana manifests itself in five different forms in the human body called as five prana vayus or Pancha vayus in Yoga. Each of them has its own areas, movement, physiological and psychological functions associated with it.
Vayu roughly means wind or flow of energy. Prana is carried throughout our bodies via the vayus, which are responsible for transferring and channelling this subtle energy.
These five pranas work through the sympathetic nerve plexuses to receive or generate vayus. Va in Sanskrti means motion and that’s the word ‘Vayus’ came into play. Vayus means currents or impulses of vital air.
The Pancha (five) Prana vayus in yoga are:
- Prana vayu (inward moving current or impulse)
- Apana vayu (downward moving current or impulse)
- Samana vayu (equalising current or impulse)
- Udana vayu (ascending current or impulse)
- Vyanu vayu (diffusive current or impulse)
1. Prana Vayu
Prana vayu is “forward-moving air,” because it moves inward and governs all kinds of reception into the body, from eating, drinking, and inhaling, to the reception of sensory impressions and mental experiences. It is propulsive in nature, setting things in motion and guiding them, and it provides the basic energy that drives us in life.
This Prana vayu is not the cosmic energy but just the name is given to the flow of energy responsible for the respiratory system.
Prana vayu helps supplies the oxygen to our body. Here the energy flow from nostril to the heart.
Motion: Inward and downward. It moves from throat to navel.
Areas in body: Heart energy centre (Anahata chakra)
Responsible for: It governs Respiration, Swallowing, heartbeat, body temperature. It is responsible for receiving substances into the body such as food (eating), liquids (drinking), air (breathing) and even the incoming sense perceptions (see, hear, taste, smell, feel and mental experience).
Work on your Prana vayu to fix these ailments:
Asanas (physical postures) to balance this vayu: Bhastrika, Nadi Shodhana and Ujjayi Pranayama.- all chest opening asanas increase prana vayu
2. Apana Vayu
Apana vayu, “the air that moves away,” moves downward and outward. Apana vayu mainly works in the lower parts of the body and helps regulates the elimination process. For instance, eliminating of body waste in the form of urine and feces. On a deeper level, it rules the elimination of negative sensory, emotional, and mental experiences. It is the basis of our immune function.
Motion: Apana is downward and outward motion. It moves between the navel and rectum.
Areas in the body: Around anus or genital energy centre (Muladhara chakra)
Responsible for: It governs kidneys, blade, genitals, colon and rectum. Apana vayu is responsible for eliminating, excreting, or expelling substances such as air (exhaling), feces (defecating), urine (urinating), gas (flatulence), semen (ejaculation and conceptions), giving birth. Mentally, letting go of mental blocks, such as resentment, fear and anger.
Work on your Prana vayu to fix these ailments: All diseases related to abdomen, kidney, urinary tract, genitals, legs, feet etc are the result of disturbed Apana vayu.
Asanas (physical postures) to balance this vayu: Bhastri, Nauli, Agnisara Kriya, Ashvini Mudra and Mula Bandha serve to strengthen and purify Apana Prana.
3. Samana Vayu
The world samana means equalizing or balancing as it unifies the forces of prana and Apana. Saman helps distribute the energy of food through the body. The food that we eat affects our body and mind. This demands the importance of eating pranic food or sattvic food which is fresh, full of nutrition and not processed.
By controlling Samana vayu, you get charisma and a powerful aura.
Motion: Samana vayu moves in circular motion inwards. It moves from heart to navel.
Areas in the body: Navel energy centre (Manipura chakra)
Responsible for: Governs stomach, liver, pancreas and intestines. Samana vayu is responsible for digestion, proper absorption of nutrient, proper distribution of energy and oxygen assimilation. Balancing this helps to calm your mind.
Work on your Prana vayu to fix these ailments: Indigestion, Stomach Bloating, Locak of nutrient absorption
Asanas (physical postures) to balance this vayu: Any asana that includes twisting abdomen helps balance Samana vayu. Bhastrika, Nadi Shodhana and Ujjayi Pranayama. Agnisara Kriya and Nauli
Kriya Yoga is the most effective technique for awakening Samana Prana. The rise of samana vayu can make the entire body warm especially while practising kriya yoga. The aura of a person can continue to go brighter and stronger with kriya yoga practice.
Udana vayu is subtle vital air that carries upward. It can help you grow taller and stronger. At the time of death, udana separates the astral body from the physical body. By controlling udana, an advanced yogi can levitate in the air. The evidence of levitations was also found in Buddha Sutra when some disciples of Gautama Buddha displayed (without permission) their levitation when agitated by local villagers.
Udana is also responsible for kundalini rising.
Arguably, it is believed that the advanced yogis who can control the Udana vayu perfectly can walk on water and levitate in air. They sit and mediate in the extreme cold of Himalaya and no not feel cold. They can sit in a hot desert and do not feel hot. They remain unaffected by heat, cold and insects, etc.through the control of Udana Prana.
Motion: Udana (out-breathing) is upward and outward motion.
Areas in body: Throat energy centre (vishuddhi chakra)
Responsible for: body growth, rising upward and muscular strength. It controls all automatic functions in the head. It is responsible for speech, music, singing and humming.
Work on your Prana vayu to fix these ailments:
Asanas (physical postures) to balance this vayu:
Bhramari Pranayama Technique
- Close the ears with the fingers and inhale. While exhaling through the nose, hum like a bumble-bee (the mouth remains closed).
- After about 5-7 breaths sit motionless and breathe normally with the ears still closed. Concentrate on your inner space and listen to the inner sound.
- This exercise will calm the nerves and thoughts, promote concentration and bring you into contact with your Self.
5. Vyana Vayu
Vyana vayu flows in all part of the body via nadis. There are 72,000 nadis in human body as per ancient texts and
Motion: Vyana (back breathing) is circular motion a combination o prana and apana. This vayu moves everywhere in the body through all nadis.
Areas in body:
Responsible for: Controls the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems, coordination of muscles, joints and manages unconscious reflexes. Vayana is responsible for blood flow, lymph detox, sweating, and sensations of skin and coordination of all systems.
Work on your Prana vayu to fix these ailments: Poor circulation, impaired nerve stimulation and nervous breakdowns
Excercise for Vyana vayu: Kumbhaka (breath retention)
With each natural, relaxed breath that we take, there is an automatic pause between inhalation and exhalation. In the practice of Pranayama, this pause is consciously lengthened. When we retain the breath, we withhold energy in the body with a resultant build up in pressure. This pressure has the effect of releasing energy blockages. Kumbhaka stimulates the nervous system. Anyone who has combined the techniques of Kumbhaka and Maha Bandha, knows the subsequent, pleasant sensation of peace that flows through the body. This is the reason for being able to meditate well after this practice. The feeling is produced by the increased flow of Vyana Prana throughout the whole body.
While breath is retained (kumbhaka), prana and apana vayus unite in muladhara (root chakra), generating great concentration of prana to awaken kundalini.
Disclaimer: Overall, Kumbhaka and bandha (or any kundalini yoga) are pretty powerful techniques and should only be done in presence of an enlightened master or experienced teacher.
It is highly recommended to perform the following breath exercise several times a day.
- Inhale deeply and exhale once
- Again inhale and hold the breath for as long as comfortable (counting to 20, 30, etc.)
- Exhale and hold the breath again for a while
- Repeat this exercise 4-5 times.
The benefits of this exercise show up pretty quick and your nerves will thank you.
Suppresing natural body urge cuts off natural flow of prana which causes imbalance and disease. When you have following urges, do not try to stop them:
- Flatulate (aka farting)
- Pant after exertion
- Ejaculate or orgasm
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