What are the five pranas?
When prana operates in the body, it divides into five major flows called vayus (wind/air). Each of the five vayus are witnessed and examined during meditation and deep contemplation. They are as follows.
Prana vayu operates from the heart and head and is an upward-flowing energy governing intake, inspiration, propulsion and forward momentum. This vayu rules inward motion.
Inhale Heart: Allowing breath to flow in through your nose, focus on your lungs filling with air. Exhale: Rather than imagining pushing the breath away from you, allow prana to linger within your lungs. Keep your attention inside, enjoying the full experience of the exhale.
Inhale Head: Allow breath to lightly flow through the nose and move to the center of the mind. Exhale: See the breath turn into a white light, washing the mind free of clutter and noise.
Apana vayu operates from the base of the torso, in the rectum area, and is a downward- and outward-flowing energy. It has to do with eliminating what is no longer needed.
Inhale: Direct prana in through the nose and downward to the base of the spine/pelvic floor, breathing as though we could inhale down to the base of the spine. Exhale: Out and down through the legs and out through the feet as to connect with the earth, inviting healing and a sense of being grounded.
Samana vayu operates from the navel area, dealing with digestion and mental discrimination between useful and not useful thoughts. It governs assimilation, discernment, inner absorption, consolidation, and rules the equalizing and balancing action of all that we ingest.
Inhale: Let the breath move in through the nose and fill the front, sides and back of of the torso evenly. Envision it being distributed around the entire cylinder of the body. Exhale: Move the breath deeper inward, toward a small ball of fire or light within the center of the body that increases in intensity with each round.
Udana vayu operates from the throat and drives exhalation, operating in conjunction with prana vayu, dealing with inhalation. It relates to the upward movement of our bodies and our perspectives. It is said to govern physical growth, speech, expression, ascension and upward movement.
Inhale: Imagine the breath moving up from the earth into the soles of the feet and climbing up the legs, through the spine and up the chest. Exhale: Let the breath release through the throat region as you exhale through the nose, releasing any tension in the throat, jaw and teeth.
Vyana vayu operates throughout the whole body and moves from the center outward. Based in the area of the heart, vyana vayu represents the whole body, (the skin and the energy that radiates past the boundary of our skin), supports our optimal health and circulation.
Inhale: Let the breath draw from the nose to the heart, and even moving to the back of the heart. Exhale: Imagine the breath moving out through the arms and legs and through the length of the torso. Imagine the breath moving out through every pore in the body, expanding you beyond the boundary of your skin.