Pancha Prana Vayu or the five energy flows, enables the body and its organs to function. Essentially, the Pancha Prana Vayus are responsible for the entire physiology of the human system. We generate our physical energy from food. The food is converted to glucose which is broken down in the cells to produce energy. The five Prana Vayus are involved in assimilation, distribution and managing this energy to make the body function. These five Pranas are called Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana.
These five pranas or Pancha Prana Vayu are closely interlinked with our physical energy. But the actual source of these Pancha Prana is difficult to explain. The source of the Pancha Prana is Maha Prana. This Maha Prana is the cosmic energy and is manifest in each of us as the Kundalini Shakti.
A short description of the 5 Pranas or the Panch Prana Vayu are given below:
Prana: This is the first and the main of the five pranas and functions between the throat and the diaphragm. All organs of the thorax including heart and lungs are maintained by Prana. The basic function of respiration and pumping of heart is controlled by Prana. Prana can be thought of as moving upwards.
Apana: Apana is the second of the five Pranas and is primarily responsible for elimination. It controls organs situated between the naval and the perineum including, small and large intestine, kidneys, urinary system and reproductive systems. Elimination of waste as faeces, gas and urine is done by Apana Vayu. Also, ejaculation of sperm, Monthly menstrual cycle for women and expulsion of foetus during childbirth is done by Apana Vayu. Apana Vayu flows downwards and stimulates the downward movement of the wastes. Disturbances in Apana Vayu can cause constipation, diarrhoea, piles, etc.
Samana: Samana Vayu operates between the naval and the diaphragm. It controls the function of organs like stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, small and large intestine. Samana Vayu travels sideways. Samana Vayu is the Prana that is responsible for digestion and assimilation of nutrients into the body. Disturbance of the Samana Vayu can cause indigestion and other stomach disorders.
Udana: Udana Vayu functions above the throat, face and head region. It is responsible for all the sensory organs and functioning of the brain. Apart from that it controls the organs of movement including hands and legs.
Vyana: Vyana Vayu pervades the entire body. It is Vyana Vayu that carries the nutrients needed to every cell of the body. The nutrients are carried via blood flow and the circulatory system to reach all the organs. Whenever there is a shortage of energy in any part of the body, Vyana Vayu immediately sends the required nutrients to the cells to produce the energy. It is like a dynamic reserve store of energy, available to the whole body. It also helps in muscular movements and carrying the sensory and motor impulses from different parts of the body. It also causes perspiration from the skin. Gooseflesh, caused by cold or fright also comes under the jurisdiction of Vyana Vayu.
Understanding the functioning of the Pancha Prana Vayu is essential for Yoga Therapy. Yoga Therapy aims at improving the function of these 5 pranas to correct any problems with the functioning of the organs. If any of the five pranas are depleted or not functioning optimally, diseases may occur in their corresponding organs.
Prana or Chi Energy flows in the body through subtle channels called Nadi or meridians. Any block in the flow of energy through the meridians can cause the particular prana to function sub-optimally. Yogic breathing, Pranayama and certain Mudras helps to remove any pranic blocks in the nadis and ensures that the energy is circulated well in the body.