The Winds of Prana
Prana is the all pervasive energy of the Universe. It’s the secret, subtle thing at work which makes gravity draw inwards, propulsion push out, and life expand and contract. These movements are derived from that source energy and they are called the Vayus (winds) in Yoga. You can become aware of these movements of energy inside yourself to make a more interesting practice and healthier human. All of them can be experienced easily though the medium of your breath. First, without me telling you what they are, you can feel them yourself by taking slow deep breaths and sitting up right now. As you do…allow your body to accommodate in the direction you feel the movements. Breath, and make the transition between your breaths very smooth, like ocean waves that seamlessly merge from one to the next.
The Five Vayus
These are the five main Vayus that direct life processes. Each moves through the entire being but are strongest in the depicted zones.
Prana Vayu – This is the movement of source Prana in the body from which the others come. It is said to have a forward and upward motion. I think of it as the sustaining force behind life. Life is a process of evolution and has an eagerness to metaphorically move forward and up. Prana Vayu’s physical components are the heart and lungs, always sustaining. You can also literally feel an upward motion when you develop your inhalations to utilize more surface area in the lungs.
Apana Vayu – Apana Vayu moves downwards and out and directs excretion and reproduction. It’s easily felt during exhales. The more you breath out the lower and closer together the ribs move. The diaphragm moves up to expel the breath and makes space for the abdominal muscular wall to contract inwards on the upper intestines. Apana Vayu also has a sensation of grounding.
Samana Vayu – Our center Vayu. Like gravity, it pulls energy inwards to be transformed into Self and gives a sense of place and identity. You could even say it’s ego related. It’s our digestive operations in both stomach and mind.
Vyana Vayu – The movement outwards. Vyana deals with the entire body and coordinating all energies and functions. It’s the curiousity and exploration to understand the whole being. It directs the circulation of blood and awarenes in the nervous system.
Udana Vayu – This is the expressive Vayu that shows evolution continues even within a single lifetime through ideas and communication. It deals with how we create sound through articulation in the throat and the ways we also communicate by posture and facial features. It works from an understanding of internal space to stimulate growth.
Like all phenomenon, the vayus are experienced and understood more fully by bringing awareness to them. To simplify your practice I recommend combining the Vayus at first. Breath in feeling openness, expansion, curiosity, lifting, energetic, and lightness. Breath out feeling connecting, contracting, familiarity, grounding, steady, and stabilized. Achieve a balance in the energies that lets you feel them together!
About our Author
George Anthony is a yoga teacher and modern mystic that travels the world training teachers, likes diving into self expanding experiences, and loves to share good energy with all people. He’s the director of Sajeeva Yoga School, musician, artist, novice acrobat, acroyogi, cook, handstand master, and philosopher. Join the vibes! – www.sajeevayoga.com