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According to the yoga tradition there are five major currents of vital force that run through the body and organize it’s physiological functioning.

This is known as the Pancha Vayu Model.

These five vayus govern different areas of the body and different physical and subtle activities. When they’re functioning harmoniously, they assure the health and vitality of the body and mind, allowing us to enjoy our unique talents and live life with meaning and purpose.

Our life force, prana, divides itself into five vayus, each governing different functions and aspects of being.

PRANA VAYU (Head/Chest)

Is responsible for the INTAKE. It moves downward and inward, prodiding the basic energy that drives us in life.

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).

Some of the ways to keep your Prana vayu in balance include:

Emphasis on Inhalation (to encourage taking things in)

Prana Breath (IN: Pull the energy in through the sensory openings in the head (nose, eyes, ears, third eye); hold a moment; EX: Release the energy through the third eye)

“Positive impressions”: contact with nature, visualizations, rituals

Sensory therapies: colors, sounds, aromas

Meditation generates prana in the mind

Wherever space and stillness is created, prana flows


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.

Some of the ways to keep your Apana vayu in balance include:

Focus on Exhalation and Suspension of breath (holding after exhale)

Apana Breath (IN: Pull the energy into the belly EX: Direct the energy from the belly into the feet/ground; hold the air out for a moment.

Mula Bandha – like contraction of pelvic floor muscles

Nourishing foods, less junk


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.

To get Samana vayu back on track you might try:

Focus on Exhalation with abdominal contraction

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)

Quality food, fasting


Is responsible for growth. It moves upward and is a result of 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.

To help with Udana vayu functioning you can try:

Focus on Exhalation, particularly diaphragmatic breathing

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


Jalandhara Bandha-like movements

Working with all other Vayus

VYANA VAYU (Whole Body)

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.

Practices that benefit Vyana vayu include:

Focus on Inhalation and expansion

Retention of breath (hold after Inhale)

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)

Using asanas as prana pumps

Heart opening routines

Prayer, ritual

Any activities that give you joy, touch your heart

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