Five Vayus

The Five Vayus

Published on October 1, 2019

Through their exploration of the body and breath, the ancient yogis discovered that prana (life force energy) could be further subdivided into energetic components they called Vayus (winds). The five Vayus of prana all have very subtle yet distinct energetic qualities, including specific functions and directions of flow. The yogis were able to control and cultivate these Vayus by simply bringing their focus and awareness to them. Through this conscious control and cultivation, they were not only able to create optimal health and well-being but were able to activate the primordial Kundalini energy to obtain states of enlightened Samadhi.

What are the Vayus?

The Sanskrit word Vayu translates as “wind,” and the root ‘va’ translates to “that which flows.” Thus a Vayu is an energetic force that moves in a specific direction to control bodily functions and activities. The ancient yogis found 49 distinct types of Vayus in the body. Only five of the main Vayus or Pancha Pranas are important for yoga practitioners to understand. These five primary currents of vital force are Prana-Vayu, Apana-Vayu, Samana-Vayu, Udana-Vayu, and Vyana-Vayu.

Each Vayu governs a specific area of the body and ideally functions in harmony with each other. Their subtle energetic movements affect and influence our physical, emotional and mental health and wellness. If a Vayu becomes imbalanced it can create disharmony through the whole energetic system of the body or can negatively affect its associate chakra or the organs linked to its location.

Complete mastery over the Vayus is not necessary to benefit from using them to improve our health, inward focus and the ability to feel the subtleties within the body. Cultivating a basic awareness of one or more of the Vayus will help us deepen our awareness of body and breath to enrich our yoga practice and achieve our greatest potential.

The Five Vayus

The two most easiest and important Vayus to connect with are Prana-Vayu and Apana-Vayu. Once you connect with the subtle energies of these two Vayus it will be easier to work with the others.


Prana-Vayu is situated in the heart, and its energy pervades the chest region. Prana-Vayu translates as “forward moving air,” and its flow is inwards and upward. It nourishes the brain and the eyes and governs the reception of all things: food, air, senses, and thoughts. This Vayu is the fundamental energy in the body and directs and feeds into the four other Vayus. This Vayu’s action is crystallization, its expression is cyclical, and its associated chakras and elements are Anahata and air. When this Vayu is weak, the mind cannot focus and experiences excess worry. Shortness of breath, anxiety, low energy or a poor immune system can be related to disturbed Prana-Vayu.

• To experience Prana-Vayu: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale feel an energy flowing up the torso from the belly to the third-eye. Alternatively, practice our third eye meditation.

• To strengthen Prana-Vayu: Practicing pranayamas like Bhastrika, Nadi Shodhana and Ujjayi Pranayama will quickly strengthen this Vayu.  Heart-opening yoga poses like bow pose, camel pose, cobra pose, dancer pose, and bridge pose will activate and strengthen the Prana-Vayu. To encourage this vital wind to flow upward practice inversions and poses with raised arms like Warrior I, Chair pose, and Mountain pose. Bringing awareness of Prana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus to lift, lengthen and open the upper body.


Apana-Vayu is situated in the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen. Apana-Vayu translates as “the air that moves away,” and its flow is downwards and out. Its energy nourishes the organs of digestion, reproduction, and elimination. Apana-Vayu governs the elimination of all substances from the body: carbon dioxide, urine, stool, etc. This Vayu’s action is elimination, its expression is steadiness, and its associated chakras and elements are Muladhara and earth. A weak or dysfunctional Apana-Vayu creates feelings of ungroundedness and weakness in the legs. Elimination issues or diseases that affect the intestines, kidneys, or urinary tract can be related to disturbed Apana prana.

• To experience Apana-Vayu: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you exhale feel an energy flowing down the torso from the top of the head to the tailbone, and then out through the legs and feet.

• To strengthen Apana-Vayu: Practice calming and tension releasing poses like forward bends and seated twists. Focus on engaging the leg muscles and grounding down in standing yoga poses strengthen this Vayu. Also consider practicing Nauli, Agni Sara Kriya, Ashvini Mudra, and Mula Bandha. Bringing awareness of Apana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus to ground and stabilize the lower body.


Vyana-Vayu is situated in the heart and lungs and flows throughout the entire body. Vyana-Vayu translates as “outward moving air,” and its flow moves from the center of the body to the periphery. It governs the circulation of all substances throughout the body and assists the other Vayus with their functions. This Vayu’s action is circulation, its expression is alignment, and its associated chakras and elements are Svadisthana and water. A weak or dysfunctional Vyana-Vayu can create feelings of separation and alienation and can create disjointed, fluctuating and rambling thoughts. Poor circulation, impaired nerve stimulation, skin disorders, and nervous breakdowns can be related to disturbed Vyana-Vayu.

• To experience Vyana-Vayu: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale feel the breath radiating outward from the navel to the arms and legs.

• To strengthen Vyana-Vayu: Practice pranayama with kumbhaka (breath retention). Focus your asana practice more on vinyasa movements like the Sun Salutations to circulate prana and blood. Bringing awareness of Vyana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus on strength and fluid movement body.


Udana-Vayu is situated in the throat and it has a circular flow around the neck and head. Udana-Vayu translates to “that which carries upward,” and its flow moves upward from the heart to the head, five senses, and brain. It functions to “hold us up” and governs speech, self-expression, and growth. This Vayu’s action is metabolization, its expression is verbal, and its associated chakras and elements are Vishuddha & Ajna and ether. A weak or dysfunctional Udana-Vayu can manifest as speech difficulties, shortness of breath and diseases of the throat. A lack of self-expression, uncoordinated movement or loss of balance can be related to disturbed Udana-Vayu.

• To experience Udana-Vayu: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale and exhale feel the breath circulating around and through the head and neck.
• To strengthen Udana-Vayu: Practice Ujjayi Pranayama and Bhramari Pranayama with Jalandhara Bandha. Focus on practicing inversions and backbending yoga poses that bring energy to the neck, shoulders, and head. Bringing awareness of Udana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus to maintain a long spine and a correct posture.


Samana-Vayu is situated in the abdomen with its energy centered in the navel. Samana-Vayu translates to “the balancing air” and its flow moves from the periphery of the body to the center. It governs the digestion and assimilation of all substances: food, air, experiences, emotions, and thoughts. This Vayu’s action is assimilation, its expression is internal, and its associated chakras and elements are Manipura and fire. A weak or dysfunctional Samana-Vayu can manifest as poor judgment, low confidence and a lack of motivation and desire. Issues with digestion can be related to disturbed Samana-Vayu.

• To experience Samana-Vayu: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale and exhale feel the breath rising and falling in the front, sides, and back of the torso.

• To strengthen Samana-Vayu: Focus your asana practice on twisting poses and core-strengthening yoga poses. Practice Kapalabhati Pranayama with Uddiyana Bandha and Agni Sara Kriya. Bringing awareness of Samana-Vayu in any yoga pose creates a focus to open and relax the body.

Five Prana Vayus Chart

The actions, locations, and movements of the Vayus are complex and can be confusing to fully grasp. To quickly summarize and easily compare the main actions and qualities of the five Vayus we have created the chart below.

PranaCrystallizationHeart & chestAll-aroundAnahataAirCyclical
VyanaCirculationAll over the bodyOutwardSvadisthanaWaterAlignment
UdanaMetabolizingThroatUpwardVishuddha & AjnaEtherVerbal


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52 responses to “The Five Vayus”

  1. cathy Avatar

    thank you timothy. i am working on my final exam for a 200 hour teacher training. you have been very helpful. i was looking for this info for hours in my books and never found the right page. love asheville and hope to be down there in the fall. namastae y’all

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      I’m glad to hear this info was helpful to you!

  2. Lauren Avatar

    Thank you for laying out this information so beautifully! I’m completing my 200 Hour Teacher training and this is helpful :)

  3. Claudia Avatar

    Dear Timothy, I have a question. Why do you say that Prana Vayu is situated in the head and centered around the third eye? According to the Bihar School of Yoga the sub-prana called “prana” belongs to a “specific part of the body between the larnx and the top of the diaphragm. It controls the functioning of the heart and lungs and …. ” . its related to the mouth and nose by breathing and the intake of food so I wonder is this wy you state it is situated in the head? Sorry I just would like to clarify this for myself and also could you kindly indicate the source of your findings. Thanks and all the best !! x

    1. Sandeep Purushothaman Avatar
      Sandeep Purushothaman

      This comes from error in translating from classical ayurveda/yoga texts. The word “urdhwa” is used while describing prana vayu in classical ayurveda text named Ashtanga Hrudaya. Urdhwa when used as noun means head and when used as verb means upward moving. As prana is an energy better to take its meaning as upward moving.

  4. Trish Avatar

    Thank you for explaining this. It is very interesting. I have just started taking yoga classes – 3 times a week. At the age of 60, I’ve had surgery on both elbows, both wrists and a thumb joint replacement and find it difficult to do many of the poses, but even after one month I am seeing an improvement in my overall health.

  5. Tina Avatar

    Great explanation. Thank you!

  6. Graza Kai Avatar
    Graza Kai

    Thank you, Timothy for this piece of very knowledgeable information. It was trying to search the explanation on the Internet and luckily I have found your page here. I hope I can be able to explore and understand more in order to apply with the practice. Namaste!

  7. BRIT LYONS Avatar


    I have a question regarding the inhalation and exhalation, and how you can experience the vayus within.
    My experience has been to inhale (prana vayu) and send the breath down through the body to the Earth, and receive the earths energy. The exhalation (apana vayu) to ground and settle further…. Does this make sense? or do I have it a bit backwards? Thank you :)

  8. Ashley Silvers Avatar
    Ashley Silvers

    whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like reading your posts. Stay up the great work! You realize, lots of individuals are searching around for this info, you could help them greatly.

  9. Ovidiu Avatar

    Thank you. Very clear explanations.

  10. RAMESH ADWANT Avatar

    Thank you for sharing the article on the five vayus. The explanation is very clear and easily understood by the beginners. I would love to read other articles of yours at leisure. Thank you once again.
    Ramesh Adwant.

  11. John Kortmulder Avatar
    John Kortmulder

    Thanks for simple and direct explanation. I will use this and credit your information in our yoga teacher training.

  12. Chrystal Avatar

    Thank you for condensing this information and making it user friendly. Namaste

  13. Marina Avatar

    Hi Timothy, thank you so much for such a perfect explanation! Could’t find it in my YTT. Looking forward to get more knowledge from you, OM Santi, Marina

  14. Eric Avatar

    Thanks so much for sharing this information on the Five Winds and making it so accessible! I’m inspired (!) to include the visualizations for the Prana and Apana Vayus in my breath class.

  15. DR S P BABU NAGARAJ Avatar


  16. Gina Avatar

    Thank you Timothy, I have been working on a study of the Vastu interior and your exposition of Vayu have been very helpful in understanding he energies that are Vayu. and how to make use of them when designing the interior decoration of a home.

  17. Monika Avatar

    Thank you very much for explaining and making the Vayu’s so accessible xx

  18. Sudipt Avatar

    Namaste. I’m looking for information on bandhas to enable me to draw energy from different parts of the body and direct it to the sahasrara and thus attain Samadhi.
    Could you please guide me. Thank you.

  19. Raymond Avatar

    Hi, I am just wandering if the different names confuse people. For example the Prana Vayu sounds quite similar to the Kundalini experience. Are these Vayus the same as the chakra centers and how energy is directed around them?

  20. Jay Avatar

    “Apana-Vayu governs the elimination of all substances from the body: carbon monoxide, urine, stool, etc. I think you want to say Carbon Dioxide and not monoxide. carbon monoxide is very toxic and we do not produce in our metabolism.

  21. Sangeetha Muthanna Avatar
    Sangeetha Muthanna

    Thank you Divine Atma for this wonderful explanation

  22. Jen Ramos Avatar
    Jen Ramos

    Hello Timothy,

    I enjoyed reading this article, I just stumbled upon this site. Coincidence, in 2017 at 55 I completed my 200 hr certification at Kripalu, and Yoganand Michael Carroll was my teacher! It was the best experience of my personal life so far.

  23. KHEMRAJ NANHU Avatar

    Dear Guru Timothy

    I am researching Death and its mysteries. From what I have discovered thus far it seems that the 5 breaths do not leave the body at the time of death at the same time. Please can you enlighten me about the timing of the five Vayus on leaving the ‘dead body.’

    Please feel very free to respond by e-mail.
    With deepest respect,

    Khemraj Nanhu.

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      Unfortunately, I do not have any knowledge of the timing of the five Vayus on leaving the ‘dead body.’ Please update us if you find this out.

  24. Charlotte Avatar

    Thank u. I m learning hap hazardly at home after starting out with the basics in my thirties. It helps among other things to monitor my health issues as they are occuring as well as putting the bigger picture together. Like why often since teens to i have issues with chest and so on. Important info. At 74 I thnk u. Cj

  25. Siewnarine Balkaran Avatar
    Siewnarine Balkaran

    The importance of Yoga… re: Ida and Pingala Nadia in conjunction with the Shusumna Nadi have long been recognised by the Medical Fraternity…in fact the adoption of the CADUCEUS as the medical logo is a tangible expression of its importance.

  26. Biren Avatar

    Thanks for the unique info.

  27. Atul Avatar

    thanks for your knowledge of vayus .I was searching for it thankfully I got it .

  28. Rahul Harish Salunkhe Avatar
    Rahul Harish Salunkhe

    Very nice information and in detailed manner. This is really useful. I want to further learn on how to channelise the energies and get more understanding on practicing the same.

    Can you please help me learn pranayam?

  29. sridhar Avatar

    very useful, simple and neat. Can you help me to find any reference to 49 vayu-s.

  30. Anu Avatar

    Wow, what an explanation. Hats off to you.

  31. Brahman Avatar

    Thank you for explaining five pranas – vital breaths

  32. James Travers-Murison Avatar
    James Travers-Murison

    Just some clarification. Vyana is for circulation and has always been associated with the heart and lungs chakra. Prana governs the mental facilities and is the third eye chakra. Trabjika Tantra ancient scrolls 10thC.

    From the medical perspective of modern science the concept of these winds carrying the energy in the body appears to be total nonsense. There is no anatomical medical evidence of 5 transmission substances that correspond to these processes. And there is no anatomical medical evidence in the nervous system of either helix (ida/pingala) of nerve tissue running up the spine nor crossovers at the chakras. It is quite frankly primitive superstition. I’m afraid the medical reality is far more complex than this.

  33. Wenlin Avatar

    Thank you for this article. I have read conflicting information online relating to which Vayu is associated with the Water element, with some sources saying it is Prana vayu, and others, including yours, saying it is Vyana vayu. I would love to know your thoughts and if you could point me to any further readings and studies relating to this connection to elucidate this confusion. Thank you!

  34. cheryl mungomery Avatar
    cheryl mungomery

    Simply wish to say your article is as astounding. I have been practicing yoga since I was 12 years old but never knew anything about the vayus. This article has helped me understand them better. The five vayus are the vital life force or prana. These five vayus are responsible for maintaining our physical health. Each person has these energies in different proportions. When they are balanced, there is harmony within us. But when they become imbalanced, our health suffers.

  35. Digi Remus Avatar
    Digi Remus

    I have always thought of vayus as being wind or air but here they are described as five different types of energies. I have always known there were five vayus but never knew their names. I am going to try some of these exercises out. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

  36. Tanya Sareen Avatar
    Tanya Sareen

    This article is very interesting because it explains the five vayus and their importance when it comes to health. In our body these energies are represented by the five vital organs: heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys. Each organ has its own function and role to play in maintaining health. When any one of them becomes imbalanced, there is imbalance in the entire system.

  37. Andy Shukla Avatar
    Andy Shukla

    I have read somewhere that vayus are responsible for different functions of our body like digestion, metabolism etc. But i never knew that there were five vayus and that when any of these vayus becomes weak, then there is imbalance in the corresponding organs.

  38. Dr. David Avatar
    Dr. David

    I have always believed that there are five vital energies or winds which are responsible for our health and well-being. Each one has its own unique characteristics and effects on us. For example, when these winds become imbalanced they cause diseases like asthma, diabetes etc. When balanced they help us stay healthy and happy. The most important thing to remember is that each person is different and therefore needs to find out what works best for them.

  39. Dr Palepu Suseela Avatar
    Dr Palepu Suseela

    This is useful information regarding 5vayus in the body and their explanation.Thank you for giving good information.DR PALEPU SUSEELA

  40. Alpana Avatar

    Very well explained, thank you so much for the info.

  41. Abigail Mancini Avatar
    Abigail Mancini

    I’m fascinated by the insight provided into the way the vayus affect our energy and how we move. I’m eager to try some of the techniques suggested.

  42. Patrick Soe Avatar
    Patrick Soe

    Sir / Madam
    Re: Vayus
    I got this reference from Sadguru’s one lecture in Ytube. I am truly very interested to learn more about : Prana, Samara Apana, Vyana and Udana Vayus . I’m completely a novice in this respect and an elderly man. Thankfully if I can be helped
    Patrick Soe

  43. John Thompson Avatar
    John Thompson

    As a long-time yogi, I thought I knew everything there was to know about prana, but this article has taken my understanding to a whole new level. I’ve always felt a strong connection between my breath and my movements in yoga, but now I understand why. The vayus are a fascinating part of the practice and I can’t wait to dive deeper into this knowledge. I can’t wait to explore the vayus in my next practice!

  44. Sage AriaMoon Avatar
    Sage AriaMoon

    I am so curious about the subtle aspects of yoga, and this article on the Five Vayus definitely satisfied my curiosity. I can’t wait to explore this further in my own practice.

  45. Vivek Metta Avatar
    Vivek Metta

    Great explanation, Timothy. You are a great soul.
    I wonder at the comprehensive study of each body part done by the great sages over generations of observation and practice. Simply superb.
    Hare krishna!

  46. Maria Gonzales Avatar
    Maria Gonzales

    I had no idea that the practice of yoga had such a deep connection to the breath and the body’s energy. Learning about the Five Vayus has made me appreciate my yoga practice even more.

  47. Grace Wallace Avatar
    Grace Wallace

    This article has opened my eyes to a whole new world of pranayama! I’m excited to explore the different vayus and their effects on the body.

  48. Aisha Khan Avatar
    Aisha Khan

    This chart of the five Vayus is a lifesaver! It helps summarize and compare their main actions and qualities. I’ll definitely refer back to this chart to keep track of their locations and movements.

  49. Bryon Freeleagus Avatar
    Bryon Freeleagus

    The ancient yogis really had a deep understanding of the body and breath. It’s amazing how they were able to control and cultivate these Vayus just by bringing their focus and awareness to them.

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Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
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