Prana: The Vital Wind
By Todd Caldecott • June 25th, 2010 • 9472 Views
Prana is used in both a general sense and a specific sense in Ayurveda. In a general sense, prana is the animating force of the body that we receive through the air we breathe, and the food and water we drink. In Ayurveda prana is intimately connected to vata dosha, and in this sense, vata represents prana in a disturbed state. Ayurveda delineates five specific aspects to prana, as different vayus or ‘winds’ of the body.
Prana vayu is the first and most important of the five Vayus, and, ultimately, all of the other Vayus are really just permutations of prana vayu. Prana initiates and controls all binary functions in the body, such as inhalation and exhalation, contraction and expansion, and stimulation and relaxation. Prana animates the cells of the body as the vital force, and is located in the hridaya (‘heart’), moving upwards to the brain, activating the buddhi (‘intellect’), the indriyas (‘senses’) and chitta (‘mind’). Specifically, prana attends to the maintenance of cardiopulmonary activity, and governs ingestion, chewing and swallowing, and initiates expectoration, sneezing and belching. Prana is the bridge between the physical and astral bodies and when death occurs, prana leaves the body. Symptoms of a disturbance to the function of prana include anxiety, central nervous system dysfunction and accumulated toxins. Prana may be restored to normalcy by the practice of pranayama, good nutrition and adequate rest.
Udana vayu is derived from the root word ‘ud’ meaning ‘upward,’ and thus represents the upward moving energy of the body, located in the chest. It is in many respects similar to prana, but is considered to be lighter (‘laghu’) in nature, and acts as the compliment of prana. Thus, udana governs exhalation, removing carbon dioxide from the alveoli, whereas prana governs inhalation and the absorption of oxygen. Udana governs speech, controls the tongue, initiates effort, promotes enthusiasm, and together with prana, governs memory. As the upward moving force udana initiates growth, such as the development of a child learning to walk, or as the force that raises consciousness to new levels. Udana lifts the intent of our aspirations and desires to the heavens above. Upon death udana compels consciousness to leave the body and enter the astral realms, and guided by karma, propels the soul to its next manifestation. Disorders of udana include suffocation, hyperventilation, hiccoughs, choking, sleep apnea, emphysema, hoarseness and kundalini disorders. And, because udana and prana are similar,...
Yoga, Yoga Lifestyle, ayurveda, prana vayu