Note: This is part 5 of 7 of the five vayus series.
Apana vayu is the exhale, the letting go of all we don’t need. Flowing down and out, away from the body, it’s the aspect of Prana that allows us to eliminate toxins and waste products and release psychic tensions.
The main area of apana’s influence in the body is below the navel. It grounds and stabilizes us, connecting us with the earth.
On a physical level, apana allows us to release waste products through our bowels, bladder, and sweat glands, to discharge sexual fluids, and expel CO2 from our lungs. On a mental/emotional level, it gives us the capacity to release thought constructs that no longer serve us and to let go of emotions tied up in the past.
Balanced and Imbalanced Apana
When apana is in balance, everything flows as it should. The unused energy we take in as prana flows out as apana. There’s no stagnation or buildup in our systems.
When apana slides out of balance, we become heavy and sluggish. When it’s disturbed for long enough, we experience stagnation and disease. Toxins build up in the body. The mind becomes cluttered, disorganized, and dull. Suppressed emotions give rise to stress and neuroticism.
There’s an old saying that some people live eighty years, and others live the same year eighty times over. The latter describes the person with a weak flow of apana who has lost the ability to release and move on.
When apana is blocked, we get stuck. We become so full of the old that we no longer have room for anything new. Crystallized thought patterns cling to our psyche, preventing new ideas from taking form. Life loses its freshness and novelty, and we become trapped in a time loop, doomed to experience the same day over and over again.
We have to die to be reborn. We must let go of who we used to be to unfold our dormant potential. If we resist, growth becomes a painful process.
We fear the death of the familiar, so we hang on. But to live a healthy, creative, and fulfilling life, we must transform, grow, and evolve. That is what authentic spiritual work offers us. It allows us to let go of our resistance and embrace flow and change.
Ways to Strengthen Apana
- Meditate daily. A regular practice of meditation is like taking a psychic bath. It helps cleanse us of old thoughts and emotions.
- Eat light, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes are easy to digest and eliminate. Overindulging in heavy, processed foods can block the flow of apana and create stagnation in our bodies.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Proper hydration increases energy levels, flushes toxins from the body, and helps maintain regularity.
- Exercise. Physical exercise improves circulation, increases oxygen levels, and helps remove toxins from the body.
- Spend time in silence. Everything we take in is a form of prana. We must release what we can’t digest and assimilate. Being alone in nature or the quiet of our room can help us process and then release the static and noise of our modern society.
Meditation for Strengthening Apana
This exercise is most easily performed while standing or seated in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Take a deep breath into the navel chakra.
- Pause for a moment.
- Relax deeply as you exhale, letting go of all your negative stress and tension.
- Feel the energy flow down through your legs, out your feet, and into the earth.
- Notice how the power of apana grounds you.
- Repeat two or three times, then rest in the silence.
- Continue to feel the downward flow of energy cleanse you and connect you with the earth.
Note: This is a variation of our tension release exercise. Please refer to that article for more detailed instructions and other techniques for releasing blocked energy.
The next article will cover the upward moving force called udana vayu.