The Vayus: The Flows of Yogic Energy
Updated: Mar 8
Every term brings a new theme to focus our yoga practice. For the summer we're practicing with the vayus. They're known as 'the winds of yoga' (stop sniggering at the back!). In yoga the engine behind your being is energy - called prana. A bit like electricity, you can't see prana, just its effects. If you've had acupuncture or know about traditional chinese medicine, you'll have come across a similar concept. You have lots of channels in your body which we call nadis (in chinese medicine they call them meridians) and when your energy flows freely through these channels then you are healthy and full of vitality. But when there's a blockage in the system, the energy can't flow and perform its function leading to pain and ill health. The vayus are five types of this energy which flow in different ways through the body and govern different processes. We'll experiment with each one for two weeks over the ten week summer term:
This energy is centred in the chest and the head and is all about taking things in - nourishment in your food, the inhale of air and ideas or concepts, plus moving forward or onward - making it a great place to start our energetic journey through the body and breath
This is situated in the pelvis and deals with the elimination processes on a physical, mental and emotional basis. It's about the exhale, letting go of stuff you don't need and gives us a sense balance, being rooted and grounded.
Called 'the middle breath' and at home in the navel centre. This energy is a kind of sorting process - determining what to keep and absorb, and what to let go of. It's associated with digestion and processing physically, mentally and emotionally and all transformation qualities of the fire element. According to ayurveda problems like IBS stem from this energy being stuck, blocked or out of balance.
This is an upward moving energy based between the heart and the head. It's all about expression, growth and communication. This energy governs the function of the hormonal system, particularly the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary gland and helps you to deal with change.
Energy that flows through the whole body and co-ordinates all the systems and processes together into a dynamic state of free flowing balance and harmony. It governs the circulatory system, regulates movement through muscles, bones and connective tissue and helps to ground through feet and legs. Graceful, free flowing movement comes from this energy, moving without wearing or inflaming the joints. Conditions like arthritis come from this energy being out of balance.
While we'll shift our focus to each one in turn, in reality every energy is involved in every practice.