Prana can be considered as having five components, which translate from the sanskrit Vayus as Winds. Each of the Vayus of prana have subtle differences in function and direction of flow in the body. Through focusing on each of these Vayus in our practice, this deeper awareness enriches the quality of our breath, movement and sense of body-mind-spirit connectedness.
The two main Vayus are Prana-Vayu and Apana-Vayu.
Prana-Vayu is centred in the ajna chakra, the third eye. Its energy is inwards and upwards flowing. Prana-Vayu is responsible for our experience of the five senses, air, food and thoughts. It governs the brain and eyes. Try closing your eyes and inhaling with a focus on energy flowing up the spine from the belly to the centre of the eyebrows, the third eye.
In asana practice, Prana-Vayu raises, extends and opens the torso, head and arms.
Apana-Vayu is located in the pelvic floor and lower abdomen. The flow of Apana-Vayu is downwards and external. While Prana governs the brain, Apana governs reproduction, digestion and elimination of toxins. To connect with Apana-Vayu, inhale deeply and on an exhale, feel the energetic downward flow from the crown of the head to the base of the spine.
In asana practice, Apana-Vayu develops strong roots and a sense of the lower body being drawn to the earth.