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The Five Vayus

With my midterm YTT exam fast approaching, I have been reading up on all the aspects of yoga and/or yogic philosophy that I needed to brush up on. I have been doing some reading about the Vayus the last few days – definitely needed as I couldn’t name any of the 5 other than Prana and Apana!

Prana

Prana is the life-force energy drives all life and movement in the Universe.  It enters the body via the absorption of energy around us, as well as the food we eat and the air we breathe.

Prana travels in the body via channels called nadis. These are the 72,000 energy channels similar to the concept of the nervous system in modern science – but also different as they are not part of the *physical* body.  However, the location of the major nerves also map up to the nadis – which is pretty cool! Chakras are located at the intersection of major nadis

Prana moves through these channels and reaches every cell in the body – enabling the body to move and the mind to think, as well as all the other bodily processes.

The Vayus

The Vayus (Sanskrit: wind) are the five types of of Prana.  They all have distinct patterns of flow through the body.  By bringing your focus and awareness to the Vayus, you can learn to cultivate and control them, which in turn will ultimately activate Kundalini to obtain the state of Samadhi (enlightenment).  The five types of Vayus are:

Prana Vayu

Flow: inwards and upwards

Location: third eye, pervading the chest region

Function: nourishes the brain and the eyes.  It is the fundamental energy and feeds into the other four Vayus.

Apana Vayu

Flow: downwards and outwards

Location: pelvic floor

Function: nourishes the organs of digestion, excretion and reproduction.

Vyana Vayu

Flow: throughout the whole body, from the centre outwards

Location: heart and lungs

Function: is responsible for circulation round the body and helps the other 4 Vayus

Udana Vayu

Flow: Circulates head and neck

Location: head and neck

Function: helps speech and expression

Samana Vayu

Flow: throughout the body, from the periphery inwards

Location: navel

Function: digestion and assimilation

 

Awareness of any of the 5 Vayus can have great practical implications in your physical yoga practice, eg. Apana Vayu will help stabilise and ground the lower body etc.