5 Vayus Yoga Study Notes

Prana Vayu-Drawing in life and inspiring energy

Yoga philosophy suggests there are up to 30 different characteristics of prana and with practice we can connect to 5 of them. These qualities of prana are called the vayus which is a Sanskrit word for inner winds. Prana is considered to be the energy which animates everything in existence. Prana is the life force that fills each breath that comes into our bodies with inspiration to move, grow, create and transform. In preparation for my subtle body anatomy teachings Friday November 11th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of New Jersey in the Krame Center I created some yoga wisdom photography art which highlights each of the 5 vayu's physical body associations along with a brief explanation about each vayu.

Let's begin with prana vayu. When a newborn takes in it's first breath, every part of the baby from its organs to its cells is animated. Prana vayu is a life giving force. See the picture above for the highlighted physical location of prana vayu, the heart and lungs. When you inhale, prana vayu is drawn into the body and it inspires the 4 other vayus to initiate.

Apana Vayu-Let it go and flow with what's new

Apana Vayu is experienced on the exhale. It is a downward and outwards wind. It is grounding, calming and centering. This vayu moves through the lower abdominal and pelvic region. It governs the letting go process, making it the space making wind that ushers in change.

Udana Vayu- Upwards flowing energy that communicates the truth of our highest self

It's easy to connect to inhaling in and up and exhaling down and out however how about exploring udana vayu where your breath moves upwards and pauses for a moment? Try finding udana vayu by taking a deep inhale in and letting your breath pause at the top of the inhale. Here notice your breath move into your throat, face and top of your head. How do you feel? Lighter, taller, clearer?

Udana Vayu governs the throat, brain and face. It revitalizes our vision and our ability to communicate. Working with this upwards flowing wind can positively affect how we think, dream and communicate.

Samana Vayu-The fire wind that helps you process and transform

Heat can turn ice into water, what's raw into cooked and what's cold to warm. Fire, agni in Sanskrit is an immediate transformer. The digestive fire that's found within our bellies can digest a meal, great ideas into action as well as fuel our breath. When we exhale and contract our belly we are hugging our insides and accessing samana vayu.

Deepen your next inhale and notice your heart space and lungs fill up with prana vayu. Stretch that same inhale and access udana vayu to inspire your throat, face and brain. Deepen your exhale and ground with apana vayu. Pause at the bottom of that same exhale and stoke your inner fire with samana vayu. Let that fire help you process all that you need to let go or keep for your transformation.

Vyana Vayu-The whole body is restored and ready to serve with love and kindness

Often we come to our yoga mat feeling worn down and broken apart. With breath work, postures and meditation we awaken from our final relaxation pose feeling put back together and mindful of our calm and grounded state. Awareness of the body in its whole and centered state is vyana vayu.

From this balanced space its easy to connect with enthusiasm to our purpose whether its physical actions of service and kindness or energetic such as sending positive vibes to another. When our well depletes we return to the mat and reconnect to vyana vayu. This 5th vayu supports and balances the 4 others.

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