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Introducing the Pancha Prana Vayus

June 13, 2019

Introducing the Pancha Prana Vayus

Prana is the great cosmic catalyst, it is an energy shared by the entire universe. It is widely regarded as the vital life force that brings life to all things that are living. To help maintain optimum levels of health, prana needs to flow freely around the body.

Prana flows in all different directions energising different tasks and functions. Muktya Prana or Maha Prana is the chief or great prana and it is from this source of prana that all other flows of prana evolve. These flows of prana are known as vayus (winds). There are five main vayus of prana that flow through the body; these  are known as the Pancha Prana Vayus (five vital life force winds). 

This can be clearly illustrated by comparing electricity and prana, it becomes clear how each flow of prana energises different parts of the body. In a similar way electricity enters a house through a series of cables, it is directed around the house to power different areas and devices within the house, so that tasks can be performed; such as cooking food, heating, lighting, washing clothes, cleaning and entertainment. Prana is also directed through a series of cables these are energy zones known as nadis, the prana is directed through the nadis to different areas of the body to perform different tasks and power different areas of the body and mind.

There are twelve vayus that are responsible for actions within the body and mind, five major vayus (the Pancha Prana Vayus), five minor prana vayus (the upa prana vayus) and 2 para pranas vayus (in this instance the translation of para is other).

It is the five major pancha prana vayus that are most relevant to the practice of yoga.

The Pancha Prana Vayus

Prana Vayu – the upwards and outwards flow of the inhalation. 

Apana Prana Vayu – the downwards and outwards flow of the exhalation.

Samana Prana Vayu – the middle breath.

Udana Prana Vayu – the breath in the throat.

Vyana Prana Vayu – the breath and the circulation.

Prana and apana have opposite qualities they move through different areas of the body and influence different organs, emotions, energy centres and thoughts. Although they move to different areas both prana and apana are intimately connected, for each to flow uninhibited balance is required between the two.

The Prana Vayu moves inwards and upwards, it is the inhalation, this flow extends through the chest and up to the third eye. Prana vayu is uplifting, energising and it brings a warming sensation like the sun, it can be visualised as a steady flame moving up and out. It governs digestion, forward and upward movement, inspiration, motivation and vitality, plus it warms and heats the body.   

Apana Vayu moves downwards and outwards, it is the exhalation, its flow extends through the pelvic region of the body. Apana Vayu is cooling, nourishing and calming like the moon, it can be visualised as cooling water moving downwards. It governs elimination, downward and outward movement plus it has a calming and soothing effect. It also helps to reduce anxiety.

Samana Vayu is known as the middle breath, it is often referred to as the place where prana and apana meet. It can be felt by placing your hands lightly onto your abdomen and feeling the rise and fall of this area. 

This vayu influences manipura the abdominal chakra which brings much power. It helps ignite the inner fire - agni also known as the digestive fire or the fire of purification. It removes toxins and helps assimilate food in the digestive tract. 

Udana Vayu can be felt in the throat and will greatly influence vishuddha chakra or the throat centre. This chakra is largely responsible for creativity and expression. A balanced throat centre allows us to express ourselves clearly. 

Vyana Vayu helps circulate the prana from the heart and lungs right out to the periphery of the body. This vayu also helps to coordinate and balance the flows of the other four major vayus. This vayu is responsible for circulation, movement, motor skills and ensures that prana travels through all of the bodies 72.000 nadis. This vayu allows us to experience life and brings everything together, if this vayu is out of the balance the whole body will feel out of balance.

Meditating on the Vayus will help you discover and experience how the vayus move within your body, these audio sessions will help you balance your energy flow and enjoy all of the many benefits that this can bring.

This blog article was written by Sue Fuller creator of the Yoga 2 Hear range of audio yoga classes and yoga teacher training courses.

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