PRANA AND THE VAYUS

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PRANA AND THE VAYUS
WHAT IS PRANA?
• Prana with a capital P – life force, vital force, animating principle,
without Prana there is no life. Originates outside the body
• Gives vitality and strength
• Provides the link between the physical body and the energetic
bodies/astral body. When this link is lost, death results
• Associated with the sun, all pervading. Exists in both macrocosm and
microcosm
• The same energy from the same force, but manifests in different
forms
MORE ABOUT PRANA
• - that which is/goes everywhere, in all beings, in earth and rocks.
• - flows through the nadis whose gateway is the nostrils.
• 2 main channels in yoga: Left nostril = ida nadi and right nostril =
pingala. Central channel sushumna
• According to the Prashna Upanishad, ‘Everything rests in prana.’
(Easwaran, E (1987). The Upanishads, p229.) The readings build an
image of prana as burning like fire and blowing like wind, having form
and yet no form and states, ‘Prana is immortality’. (Easwaran, E
(1987). The Upanishads, p229.)
Prana and the Breath
• Prasna Upanishad –prana “issues out of the mouth and nostrils, resides in the eyes and ears”. In
other words, it is manifest in the breath and animates the sense organs. However it is NOT the
breath itself. The confusion arises because we need the breath to survive and we can manipulate
the Prana through pranayama.
• Desikachar in Heart of Yoga says that Prana enters the body in the moment when there is a
positive change in the mind, occurring over a long period of time. It does not simply flow into us
when we inhale.
• We cannot acquire more prana from the outside, by breathing it in, for example. When allowed to
flow correctly, then we have conditions for optimum functioning.
• Breath is the expression of Prana, the expression of life and the force behind it.
KAUSHITAKI UPANISHAD
• Life is prana, prana is life. So long as prana remains in this body, so
long is there life. Through prana, one obtains, even in this world,
immortality.
• In yoga we are trying to influence the flow of prana through our
breath because, ‘the quality of our breath influences our state of
mind and vice versa. In yoga we are trying to make use of these
connections so that prana concentrates and can freely flow within us.’
(Desikachar, T.K.V (1995). The Heart of Yoga. p 55.) In simple terms, as Desikachar explains, the
more content a person is or the better they feel is an indication of the
amount of prana they have inside them. The opposite is also the case,
that a person who is disturbed is one whose prana has been
dissipated and lost.
VAYUS
THE 5 LIFE FORCES OF THE BODY
• Prana (with a capital P) enters the body through the vehicle of the
breath
• However, there are movements of prana WITHIN the body
• They are called Vayus – meaning vital air or life energies. In several
Upanisad, vayu is referred to as the deity of the wind, the god of the
air. They are said to govern the natural elements. In the Ramayana, of
which the Bhagavad Gita forms part, Hanuman was the son of Vayu,
the air god, and could thus leap across the expanse of water
separating India from Sri Lanka.
• The vayu are concerned specifically with the pranamaya kosha
THE KING RULES THE KINGDOM
• AND appoints officers to reside over the different areas of the
kingdom, so each of the vayus governs an area of the body. Each has
a responsibility for a different function in the human body and the
flow of energy within that area. Remember each vayu is
interdependent and interconnected.l
• The Prashna Upanishad creates imagery of the vayus in our body as
the fires of prana burning in different directions for a specific purpose
for example, ‘Apana is like the holy hearth-fire/Ever burning in the
householder’s shrine; Vyana is like the fire that faces south/For
carrying offering to our ancestors.’ (Easwaran, E (1987). The
Upanishads, p233).
CHANDOGYA UPANISAD
• On what are you (body and senses) and yourself (soul) supported?
• On prana
• On what is prana supported?
• On apana
• On what is apana supported?
• On vyana
• On what is vyana supported?
• On samana
• What enters the body is called prana
• What leaves is called apana and too much apana can prevent prana
from entering so they must be in a state of balance to be effective
• The practice of yoga aims to reduce these impurities. We have to
reduce the apana so that we can bring more prana into the body.
(Desikachar, T.K.V (1995). The Heart of Yoga. P57.) We can do this simply through
pranayama. When we inhale we draw in prana from outside the
physical body. During the inhalation prana meets apana. When we
exhale the apana within the body moves towards the prana,
‘Pranayama is the movement of the prana toward the apana and the
movement of the apana toward the prana.’ (Desikachar, T.K.V (1995). The Heart of Yoga. p 58.)
• Agni relates to the metabolic fire in the body situated in the navel
area. ‘Agni, fire, is the presiding element of the navel centre, a pivotal
point of pranic energy—energy that links body and mind. It is through
the various subdivisions of prana, functioning in coordination with
the navel center, that the body is nourished and sustained.’
(Anderson, S. (2011) Agni Sara, Building Core Strength). Kumbhaka or
breath retention in pranayama encourage apana to get rid of the
burnt waste and remove blockages as do certain asanas, such as
inversions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
• Windows into the Infinite Barbara Powell Jain Publishing
• The Yoga Book Stephen Sturgess Motilal Pubs.
• The Yoga Tradition Georg Feuerstein Hohm Press
• Gheranda Samhita S.C.Vasu Satguru Pubs
• Heart of Yoga TKV Desikachar
• Hatha Yoga Pradipika Swami Muktibodhananda Bihar Pubs

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