The Five Types of Prana Vayus in Yoga


Yoga is the science to make us realize the universal energy lies somewhere inside us. We granted this energy from the universe in different forms like Drink, Food, Sense experience & Breath. In all these forms of getting energy, there is a universal energy manifest in the body in the form of ‘Prana.’

In this way, Yoga unites us with the whole universe through this little body (with the help of Prana) & we become part of universal consciousness.

According to the yoga tradition, this far-reaching system of vital energy functions through five sub-energies called the prana vayus (vayu means “wind, breath, or life force”). Each function has a distinct role, and each is integrated into the total system of human energy. If we understand the role of each prana vayu, we can grasp how the forces of prana serve the whole person and how disturbances among the pranas lead to illness and reduced quality of life. 

What is Prana?

Prana is the fundamental unit of universal life which causes the movement of breath in a living being. It is the hidden power inside every person out there & lies everywhere around us. It can be understood in this way:

Suppose you have to move an object from one place to other, you need some source of energy to do this. In the same way, channelizing the breath or energy into the different organs of the body, there is a force work on breathing called Prana.

Meaning of Prana

Word Prana is the English spell of Sanskrit word ‘Praan.’ It is made up of two root syllable. Prefix ‘Pra’ means Constant & ‘an’ means Movement.

Hence, the meaning of Prana is constant movement. Its functionality of continuous flow makes it ‘Life force’ or ‘Vital energy.’ This constant movement (Prana) begins working when a child is conceived in a mother’s womb & leave the physical body at the time of death.

Prana creates a special-body in an embryo to develop physical organs including five senses and mind also. In this way, Prana is superior to any other Physical Senses and even the brain.

Source of Prana

Where Does Prana Come From?

In Hinduism, Prana is said to stems from the ‘atman.’ Another word for atman is the ‘Soul’ or ‘True-Self.’ The soul perceives the experience of the physical world through working of Prana.

Whether you are looking through eyes, breathing through the nose, sensing through the skin, or taking a decision through the brain – Prana is working behind every subtle mechanism of the body. In this way, Soul experiences the physical world through body & mind.

The Panch Prana: Essentials of The Body

Prana is divided into five forms based on functionality & area of working. Every Prana has its significance & imbalance in their quantity may lead to improper working of body & mind.

Along with the 5 Prana, there is 5 subdivision of these Prana also called Five Upa-Pranas 1. These Five Upa-Pranas helps Prana to remove blockages from a specific part of the body.

The 5 Pranas are:

1. Prana vayu

2. Apana vayu

3. Samana vayu

4. Udana vayu

5. Vyana vayu

1. Prana Vayu

The term prana is most commonly used to describe the vital force in its totality, but within the context of the five divisions of pranic energy, it refers to all the ways in which we take in energy. Inhalation is by far the most important vehicle for absorbing prana, but prana is drawn from other energy sources as well. We also absorb energy from food and water; from the sights, sounds, and smells gathered through the sense organs; and from ideas and impressions communicated to the mind.

Prana is said to enter the body through the mouth (the nose, the ears, and the eyes are also “mouths” in this sense). While some sources place the primary abode of prana in the chest, the region of the lungs and the anahata chakra, the heart center, others say that prana is focused naturally at the ajna chakra, the center between the eyebrows. It is there that our attention becomes fixed on an object, and this automatically opens pathways that will bring sense impressions and nutrients into the body.

Prana is the body’s support. If we are unable to absorb it, the body will die. The great ayurvedic physician Sushruta said that it “makes the food travel inward,” and that, by so doing, it supports the other four functions of energy.


2. Samana Vayu

When we understand the role of each prana vayu we can grasp how it serves the whole person.

Samana is the function of prana that digests and assimilates incoming energy. It operates in conjunction with agni (the digestive fire) and is centered in the stomach and intestines. Thus it is commonly associated with the manipura chakra, the navel center. But samana also functions in the lungs, where the breath is absorbed, and in the mind, where ideas are integrated.

Samana (in conjunction with agni) supplies the internal heat to “cook” the food we eat. And once it is ready for assimilation, samana carefully separates the various constituents of the food, making them available according to the body’s needs. In this sense, it serves a gatekeeping function, allowing energies into the body in the proportion and order of importance necessary for health and well-being.

Samana is also the gatekeeper of our mental functions. When functioning in a balanced way, it allows us to make wise and healthy choices as to which sense impressions and thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Ailments associated with samana imbalance include gaseous swelling and abdominal discomfort, weak digestive fire, as well as overactive digestion leading to diarrhea. When our “eyes are bigger than our stomach,” both prana and samana are involved.


3. Vyana Vayu

Once energy has been drawn into the body, it must be distributed. Vyana is the force that distributes prana by causing it to flow. It expands and contracts, bends downward and upward, and travels to the side. It induces the movement of blood, lymph, and nervous impulses. It causes sweat to run. At a more subtle level, it creates the sense of living energy that we perceive as radiating throughout the entire field of our body/mind.

Unlike samana, which draws energy to a focus at the navel center where it can be assimilated into the energy system, vyana moves energy outward to the peripheries of the body. Thus vyana is spread throughout the body, coursing through the nadis. The hub of vyana is the anahata chakra, where it is involved in the functioning of the lungs and heart. When vyana is disturbed it creates systemic problems that travel through the whole body.


4. Udana Vayu

The pranic function called udana is a bit more difficult to conceptualize. Ud connotes upward movement, such as the movement of energy in the windpipe. As air rises and passes through the larynx, it produces speech and song—communication. Thus udana is associated with the vishuddha chakra, the throat center, and the regions above it.

The concept “upward moving” also implies something about the quality and use of energy. A strong flow of udana implies that a person is acting from a higher vision. Thus udana is energy that leads us to the revitalization of will and to self-transformation. It causes us to hold our heads up, both figuratively and literally. And at the time of death, udana is the energy that draws individual consciousness up and out of the body. Disordered udana is associated with illnesses occurring in the throat, neck, and head.


5. Apana Vayu

Through the practices of yoga we can learn to balance the 5 prana vayus.

The final prana, apana, is responsible for exhalation and for the downward and outward movement of energy—the elimination of wastes. Just as the head contains the openings that are suited to the inward flow of prana, the base of the torso contains the openings suitable for the work of apana. Thus apana has its home in the intestines and is focused at the muladhara chakra. Defecation, urination, menstruation, ejaculation, and childbirth are all under the influence of apana.

Disturbances of apana result in diseases of the bladder, pelvis, and colon, and contribute to immune deficiencies. When both samana and apana are disordered, problems with reproductive and urinary functioning occur.


Balancing the Energies

The chakras act as homes for the five prana vayus. When one of them is disturbed, any of the hubs of energy associated with it (the root, navel, heart, throat, or eyebrow center) will be affected. When there is disorder among all the five pranas and their hubs, Sushruta observes that “it will surely be the undoing of the body.” The good news is that through the practices of yoga—especially relaxation—we can learn to balance these five energies.

References : Link1 | Link2

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