Thursday, January 27, 2011

The 5 Vayus

Ancient yogis through their exploration of the body and breath discovered that prana (life force energy) could be further broken down into components they called Vayus (aka winds). The Prana Vayus are subtle yet distinct channels in which prana is distributed throughout our being. The yogis were able to awaken and cultivate these Vayus by simply bringing their focus and awareness to them. Through this conscious control and direction they were able to create optimal health and well-being (as well as activate the energy to obtain states of enlightenment or Samadhi).
Complete mastery over the Vayus is definitely not necessary to benefit from using them to improve our inward focus and the ability to feel the subtleties within the body. Cultivating a basic awareness of one or more of the Vayus will help us deepen our awareness of body and breath to enrich our yoga practice. A well balanced asana practice will use a range of postures to excite and regulate the Vayus.
The first step in cultivation is identifying the Vayus. Below is a brief description of each.

Chest & Head             
Governs breath, energy & creativity
Forward movement
Buoyancy that counteracts apana

Governs elimination
Downward & outward movement
Grounded force (i.e. gravity)

Governs consumption & absorption
"The fire of digestion"

Governs speech & expression
Upward movement

Whole body                
Governs circulation on all levels
Connecting us to ourselves and others

Sometimes we find ourselves unable to relax into a pose or release our minds to feel the subtleties in our movements. When you get stuck mentally or physically during your practice it can be helpful to remind yourself of the prana Vayus and the way subtle energy is moving throughout your body.
Throughout the next several weeks I'd like to look more in depth at each Vayu and explore postures that can encourage the movement of prana and help growth within our practices.

1 comment:

Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW said...

Hi Mama, I'm giving a class on yogic and prana healing tonight. Thanks for this blog - a great resource! I'd love to use your diagram as a slide!

Sue Pease Banitt, LCSW, RYT
Author, The Trauma Tool Kit