Meditating on the Vayus by Sue FullerPranayama and the Vayus by Sue Fuller

Prana is our vital life force, it is shared by the entire universe and enables us to be a living being.  Prana is the cosmic catalyst and the great universal energy. 

Prana flows in many different ways and branches off to influence different functions that take place within the universe.  These different branches or directions of flow are known as Vayus.  Vayu translates to mean wind. 

As prana flows in many different directions, it is important to remember that each prana although named differently are all part of the same prana.  This prana that is present throughout the entire universe is the Maha Prana or Muktya prana (the great prana or chief prana).  When the prana enters the body it moves in different ways and different directions to perform different tasks or actions, in doing this it influences our entire being physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

A simple way  to describe this is to compare the prana to the electricity that enters the house, as with the electricity it is directed also to different areas through a series of cables (the same as the prana and the nadis) to perform different tasks.  Such as cooking food, lighting, washing the clothes.  Prana is also directed through a series of energy zones known as nadis to different areas of the body to perform different tasks.

There are twelve vayus that are responsible for actions within the body and mind.  Within this group there are 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 prana vayus that are most relevant to the practice of yoga.

Chakra ImageThe 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 therefore influence totally 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, the flow extends through the chest and up to the third eye.  Prana vayu is uplifting, energising and 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 affect.  It will also help 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 our inner fire agni also known as the digestive fire or the fire of purification.  It removes toxins and helps us 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 our 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.

Easy Everyday Pranayamas by Sue FullerSue Fuller is the creator of the Yoga 2 Hear range of audio yoga classes.  To learn more about the Vayus, Sue has created Meditating on the Vayus.  The Yoga 2 Hear range contains over 60 different audio yoga classes for all different levels and abilities from beginners to advanced students.  Sue is also a course author for the British School of Yoga and a regular columnist for the Yoga Magazine and Natural Health UK.