This meditation in motion honoring the 5 Prana Vayus has been part of my morning routine for the past 2 years. It can be beneficial standing or in a chair. It has energized me when I wake up slow, coddled me when I struggled to get out of bed, quieted my mind when its running before my feet even touch the floor, kept my lungs vibrant, prepares my body and mind for seated meditation and allows me to celebrate the joy of breathing into my body for another day. Like getting to know a new friend, it has transformed and grown into a practice I cherish and am delighted to introduce to you. The video is short and basic, but the creation and daily practice of the meditation has been profound for me. I hope you enjoy continually learning about and experiencing the 5 Vayus intellectually, practically and energetically along with me. If so, please send me a comment!
Peace and Light, Megan
Breathing out, let go
And fall into knowing all of creation
As existing within space,
And you are absorbed in that
Vibrant empty fullness.
In this moment your body is intimate
With space, exchanging essence for essence.
Balance in the midst of vast emptiness,
Know utter freedom.
– The Radiance Sutras, Verse 35
Prana is the life force that is always moving and changing within us; it is what sets our life in motion and it is the power of becoming. We experience it physically as it rides the breath, but the underlying current of this animating force is energetic. Prana follows attention and responds to intention. As Prana enters the body, it separates and takes on different purposes in the body. These specific personalities of Prana are called the Vayus. The Vayus function as a whole like cogs in wheels, though they maintain their their specific location, movement direction and purpose.
Tasmin sati svasa prasvasaho gati-vicccheda pranayama
Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is is possible only after reasonable mastery of asana practice.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.49
Pranayama is the practice of refinement of breath as the source of Prana. Even though the nature of Prana is to always be moving, the practice of pranayama with intention and visualization allows us to command where the energy goes. Physical purification is first.
Working with the Prana Vayus, we can initially improve the physical breath and disperse the energies to resolve imbalance and blockages. Once stability is attained, psycho-emotional purification takes place, opening the door for expansion. What starts as a physical relationship between movement and breath eventually provides the energies to build the positive life force within us. This is the supplier of health and vitality of body, mind, and emotions.
Remember the cogs wheel analogy; working with the Prana Vayus is like realigning the cogs with the center wheel in the naval. As blockages are resolved, the machine is balanced. In a state of balance, each of the Vayus feed the flame of Samana Vayu in the naval center, building the positive life force. The inner light of passion and discipline brightens and radiates outward. Like a good belly laugh, Samana Vayu can not be contained; its heat energy merges with the all pervasive, expansive power of Vyana Vayu. Vyana Vayu lives within and beyond the boarders of the physical body. When it is visible outside the skin, this luminous glow is referred to as the aura or biofield and often depicted in ancient art as a halo. Vyana Vayu is also the power that energy healers tap into when using their hands to clear and balance their client’s biofield.
Bahya abhyantara visaya aksepi caturthah
The fourth type of pranayama transcends the external and internal pranayamas, and appears effortless and non-deliberate. An entirely different state of breathing appears in the state of yoga. Then the breath transcends the level of the consciousness.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.51
Prana combines with Shakti to allow us to live our lives energetically as humans – to speak, think, move, etc. By bringing mind and breath together at the forefront of our awareness, we are intimate with Prana Shakti. Unfortunately, our Prana Shakti is limited and we can exhaust it when we do too much or are constantly overstimulated. Meditative practices counteract the exhaustion of the Shakti power. With time and in an act of surrender, these practices go deeper toward the subtle level where Prana Shakti is used to access and awaken Kundalini; this is the force of creation that is always available to us in its awakened form. Unlike Prana that is malleable (changeable), Kudalini energy is the power of being that is unchanging; the place where our true nature unfolds. Kundalini is the entirety of all of our energies of body, mind, senses, breath, and consciousness as well as the energies in the natural world we live in. It is the steadiness of Kundalini Shakti that stills Prana. Progression toward internalization is greatly benefited by bringing awareness into the heart with a positive thought, image, word, feeling etc. This is the development that goes beyond physical changes, like feeling as if you are breathing more efficiently, into spiritual cultivation. What spiritual development looks like to you is individual and depends on your background and beliefs.
Tatah ksiyate Prakash avaranam
The regular practice of pranayama reduces the obstacles that inhibit clear perception and removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and wisdom.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2,52
Yoga philosophy uses the analogy of wearing mental “veils” to describe the unconscious obstacles that cause suffering and pain. Klesha means “poison” in Sanskrit, and the five Kleshas are veils that give rise to mental toxins. 1. Avidya – Ignorance, 2. Asmita – Ego 3. Raga – Attachment, 4. Dvesha – Aversion, 5. Abhinivesah – Fear of death. We know when the energy of Kundalini Shakti is accessed because our normal patterns like fear, attachment and ego in the lower chakras no longer pull us and determine our behaviors.
Udana Vayu = rising air
Location: from naval to crown of head
Direction: upward and outward, exhaling, ascending,
Function: growth, communication, creative expression, enthusiasm, self-expression, universality, moving from ignorance to enlightenment
Element: ether and sound
5th Chakra: Vishuddha (throat)
Movement & Breath: Place heals of hands on the forehead. Inhale while lifting forehead to open throat, exhale to release.
Prana Vayu = vital air (this is prana vayu, as opposed to Prana itself as the life force)
Location: from head to naval
Focus: heart, chest and head
Direction: in and up, intake, inhaling/inspiration, propulsion
Function: internalization, energizing, receiving sensory impressions, forward charge, interpreting, thinking, consciousness, self knowledge and reflection, sushumna nadi
Element: all elements
Movement & Breath: Place hands on heart center. Breathe into heart center while opening arms to the sides and lifting head. Exhale hands and gaze back to heart.
Samana Vayu = unchanging air
Direction: periphery to center, inner absorption, contraction
Function: discernment, equalization, assimilation, independence, metabolism, integrity, digesting food and oxygen, will, self esteem and definition, inner light
3rd Chakra: Manipura (solar plexus)
Movement & Breath: Place hands at naval center. Inhale while taking arms out to the sides and overhead, exhale to return to sides, inhale while taking arms forward and overhead, exhale to release. Repeat alternating direction of arm movement.
Apana Vayu = downward air
Location: from naval to soles of feet, lower abdomen, colon
Focus: pelvis, legs and feet
Direction: descending, outward
Function: elimination, grounding, steady, childbirth,, security, sexuality, self preservation and gratification, being in the moment, connecting to the earth
Element: water and earth
1st & 2nd Chakra: Muladhara (root) and Svadhistana (sacral)
Movement & Breath: Place hands at pelvis. Breathe into the back side while rounding the spine like a cat, exhale to bend knees and drop pelvis downward. Inhale to stand. Exhale to visualize grounding energy down into pelvis, legs and feet.
Vyana Vayu = diffused air
Location: from naval, heart, and lugs to entire body
Focus: whole body
Direction: from center to periphery, all pervading, integrates all other Prana Vayus
Function: expansiveness, circulation, coordination, reacting, distributes food, water, oxygen and energy to all parts of the body, initiates mental activity, love, compassion, healing, self acceptance, expanding, moves through gross nervous system and subtle counterpart (nadis), experienced as aura
4th Chakra: Anahata (heart)
Movement & Breath: Focus on one side at a time. Focus on left side. Breathe into left lung while extending out through left arm and leg. Visualize energy flowing freely through Ida Nadi and entire left side of body. Breathe out to return to neutral. Repeat on left. Switch to right side. Breathe into right lung while extending out through right arm and leg. Visualize energy flowing freely through Pingala Nadi and entire right side of body.