Lately, in class, I’ve been structuring our sequences around the Vayus. Vayu translates roughly into ‘wind’, and is a way to describe how life energy moves in the body. Similar to the elements (earth, fire, air water, and ether) there are five vayus – apana, samana, prana, udana, and vyana. Think of the elements as the material part of the body and the vayus as the energy that animates us. As living beings, many things need to move within to keep us healthy. Each vayu has its own direction.
Apana vayu is located in our lower abdomen and moves in an outward fashion. It is the vayu of elimination, moving material out of our bodies. We engaged this region a couple of weeks ago utilizing blocks, sand bags, and tennis balls to add pressure into the lower abdomen and pelvic region.
Samana vayu is located from the navel up into the lower ribs. This vayu is related to digestion and processing of nourishment. It’s a firey energy and is activated by forward folds, twists and core engagement.
Last week in class we focused on the region which houses Prana Vayu; chest, shoulders and the base of the throat. Prana, the vital force which animates us as living beings, is closely linked to inhalation. We breath in, prana flows in. From the lungs and heart, Prana then suffuses into the head and throughout the body, and we want that movement to be unblocked and easeful. Some key poses we may encounter this week – Natarajasana, Viparita Dandasana (supported on a chair), & Fish pose along with various shoulder openers and twists. We can also look forward to some hridaya (heart) marma point stimulation through self acupressure and chanting.
This week, we look forward to exploring the Udana & Vyana Vayus in the neck, throat, jaw, and head. This region of the body is full of delicate structures and can be a place where we carry much tension. Chest openers, gentle neck stretches, throat openers and inversions are on deck for these classes. Healthy movement of Udana Vayu supports- clear self-expression, joy, laughter, open awareness and mindfulness.