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Secrets of 5 Vayus of Yoga

The five prana (vital energy) currents are the Vāyus ("airs" in Sanskrit; The Sanskrit word Vāta literally means 'blown'; Vāyu, 'blower' and Prāna, 'breathing' (note: the breath of life; the *an- in animate).

1. Prana Vāyu (feeds energy into other four)

PRANA vāyu is responsible for the INTAKE (forward-moving air). It moves downward and inward, providing the basic energy that drives us. It is primarily located in the head, lungs and heart. Imbalances in Prana flow can show up as anxiety, fear, anger (head); breathlessness, asthma, sleep apnea (lungs); heart palpitations or stroke (heart).

Yoga asanas to focus on balancing the Prana Vāyu:


  • Kriya Asana Vanekom -Earth Salutation

  • Ardha Salabhasana – Half Locust Pose

  • Paripurna Salabhasana – Full Locust Pose

  • Urdva Mukha Svanasana - Upward Facing Dog Pose

  • Nindra Kokkusana -Crane Pose

Poses with Raised Arms

  • Talasana -Palm Tree Pose

  • Virahdrasana I -Warrior I Pose

  • Utkatasana -Chair Pose

Heart Openers

  • Ustrasana -Camel Pose

  • Setu Bandha – Bridge Pose

  • Urdva Dhanurasana - Upward Bow Pose

  • Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose

Some breathwork to use in conjunction with Prana Vāyu asanas:

  • Ujjaii Breathing (Ocean Breathing)

  • Bhastrika Pranayama (Breath of Fire)

  • Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

2. Udana Vāyu

It circulates in the head and neck and is responsible for growth. It moves upward and results from other vayus working properly. It governs our ability to stand, our speech, effort, enthusiasm and will. It is concentrated near the diaphragm and throat and is responsible for certain respiratory functions, speech and mental functioning (by supporting the blood movement to the brain). Imbalances in Udana vayu functioning include asthma, emphysema; stuttering, voice hoarseness; depression, poor memory, lack of creativity, direction or goals.

Yoga asanas to focus on balancing the Udana Vāyu

  • any of the Warrior Poses

  • Gardusana -Eagle Pose

  • Minasana-Fish Pose

  • Pathi Minasana -Half Fish Pose

  • Vilasana- Bow Pose

  • Vibaritakarani Asana (Half Shoulder stand)

  • Kalapoy Asana - Plow Pose

Some breathwork & other practices to use in conjunction with Udana Vāyu

  • Focus on Exhalation, particularly diaphragmatic breathing

  • Udana Breath (IN: Breathe in through the mouth, attention at the throat chakra EX: Chant OM)

  • Chanting (i.e. Om Kriya Babaji Namo Aum; So-Hum- Om Namah Shivayah)

  • Meditations that highlight raising awareness of head and neck

3. Vyana Vāyu

VYANA vayu is responsible for distribution. It moves outward in a circular, pulsating motion. It is located in the heart and lungs and is involved in cardiac activity, circulation and voluntary nervous system. Imbalances may show up as poor circulation, blocked arteries, heart attack, edema; peripheral neuropathy, symptoms of MS.

Yoga asanas to focus on balancing the Vyana Vāyu include:

Side- Bending Asanas

  • Preparatory Sidebend (on the back)-

  • Utthita Trikonasana- Extended Triangle Pose

  • Supta Garduasana- Reclined Eagle Pose

  • Balasana-Child's Pose

  • Sukasana- Easy Pose

  • Parsva Tadasana- Sidebending Mountain Pose

  • Parighasana -Gate Pose

  • Utthita Parsvakonasana- Extended Side Angle Pose

  • Prasarita Padottanasana -Wide Legged Forward Bend

  • Janu Sirsasana -Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

  • Parsva Upavistha Konasana -Side Seated Wide Angle Pose

  • Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana - Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose

Heart Openers

  • Sun Salutations

  • Namaste Prayer

Breathwork or Pranayana that balance Vyana Vāyu:

  • Focus on Inhalation and expansion -Pulse Breathing

  • Retention of breath (hold after Inhale)- Wim Hof Breathing

  • Vyana Breath (Place the hands on your chest. IN: Bring the arms out, expanding from the center out into the periphery, filling up the lungs; hold 2 seconds; EX: Place the hands back on your chest. Keep your focus at the heart center)

  • Any breathing activities that give you joy, touch your heart

4. Apana Vāyu

APANA vayu is responsible for elimination. It moves down and out and also helps retain things in. It is primarily located in the lower abdomen and is associated with functions of elimination, reproduction and bone health (regulating the absorption and retaining of minerals). Imbalances in Apana flow can show up as constipation/diarrhea, IBS; menstrual problems, sexual issues; bone density issues. It helps us go deeper in our seated forward folds. It can also bring a sense of calm and inner strength. Bringing awareness of Apana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus to ground and stabilize the lower body.

Yoga asanas that focus on balancing the Apana Vāyu:

  • Standing postures (especially standing on one foot)- Eka Pada Utkatasana-Figure Four

  • Paschimottanasanas-Seated forward folds

  • Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend | Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana

  • Parivrritta Sukasana - Seated Twists

Breathwork, Pranayama or other Practices that help balance the Apana Vāyu

  • Nauli Kriya- Abdominal Massage

  • Agni Sara Kriya- Fire Essence Purification of Abdomen

  • Ashvini Mudra

5. Samana Vāyu

SAMANA vayu is responsible for processing things and moves toward the center in a churning motion. It is concentrated around the navel. It is responsible for digestion on all levels, including the mind. It is associated with processes of digestion, absorption and assimilation. Imbalances in Samana vayu function include metabolism issues, poor digestion, bloating, loss of appetite.

Yoga asanas to help get Samana vayu re-balanced:

  • Supine Twisting Postures

  • Planks

  • Arm-balancing poses

Breathwork, Pranayama & other practices to help get Samana vayu back ' on-track':

  • Focus on Exhalation with abdominal contraction (i.e. Kapalabhati)

  • Suspension of breath (hold after Exhale)

  • Progressive abdominal contraction (Zip-up)

  • Uddiyana Bandha-like practices

  • Samana breath (IN: Imagine pulling the energy in toward your belly EX: Contract the abdomen, imagine the energy becoming more concentrated; hold contraction for a moment.)

  • Kapalbhati (to stimulate agni)

  • High-vibrational food & fasting


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