Vayu means “wind”, which describes the actions of the 5 vayus that are the subtle body energy of theVata dosha. The “wind” is what drives the movement of energy through the body, so by having an understanding of what each of the five vayus does on an energetic level, we can better understand what is happening in the body on a physical level. When choosing physical asana poses based on a therapeutic application, or when trying to achieve a specific energetic outcome through physical postures, consider using the vayus as a guide. I have included specific vayus for specifc poses based upon the three ayurvedic doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). If you are uncertain about what your dosha is, I recommend completing an online quiz (these can be found through google). This is just an aid in deepening your physical yoga practice, and can add layers of depth to your overall practice.
The five vayus are:
Apana: Located below the navel in the pelvis and legs and experienced as a down and out motion that descends and stabilizes.
Vyana: Located in the chest, heart and arms, it moves Prana from the core of the body out to the extremities in an expansive motion.
Samana: Centered in the abdomen and torso, and moves in a contractive inward spiral that draws energy into the core.
Prana (with a small “p”): Located in the head and having an inward motion that is receptive and draws in sensory perceptions.
Udana: Centered in the throat and head and moves up and out.
When choosing postures for specific doshas, or to balance a vitiation, think about the opposite or balancing action or energy. Also consider the elements, and how they are balanced (i.e. water and fire, earth and ether).
Vata (air and ether) needs stabilization, grounding, support and comfort. Use props, a slower/gentler vinyasa with shorter holds and lots of rest. Emphasize samana and apana vayus and avoid overstimulation of prana and vyna vayus. Forward folds and grounding, introspective poses are best.
Pitta (fire and water) needs de-emphasis on competition, and an invitation to round, surrender, and connect to their feelings and emotions. Use cooling poses with less intensity and playful sequencing.
Kapha (earth and water) needs a vigorous , stimulating and strenuous practice. Emphasize vyana, prana and udana vayus through backbends, inversions and standing poses.