Traditionally prana or life energy or “Chi” is said to flow through the body, in different currents or circulations. These are known as the Vayus. There are five different major flows and five minor flows. Below is an article from the Bihar School of Yoga that explains them very clearly.
The vayus of the pranic body have distinct functions and directions of flow as follows:
- Prana-Vayu – located in the head and centred at the point of the ajna chakra (third eye) this is known as the inward moving wind as it governs all receptive activities including inhalation, sensory stimulation and mental recognition. This energy also pervades the thoracic region and is the fundamental force feeding the other vayus.
- Apana-Vayu – the downward moving wind which is located in the pelvic floor with energies pervading the lower abdomen. This energy nourishes the organs of reproduction, digestion and elimination.
- Vyana-Vayu – situated in the heart and lungs, the outward moving wind travels centrifugally to the periphery of the body and governs circulation.
- Udana-Vayu – the upward moving wind, located in the throat with a circular flow around the head and neck, governing communication, subtle growth and self-expression
- Samana-Vayu – the balancing wind with a centripetal action culminating in the naval. Governs the digestion and assimilation of all substances: food, air, experiences, emotions and thoughts.
There are also five further sub-categories or ‘upa pranas’:
- Naga – belching, hiccups
- Krikara – hunger, thirst, sneezing
- Devadatta – yawning
- Koorma – blinking, eye movements
- Dhananjaya – bodily integrity