Note: This is part 2 of 7 of the five vayus series.
Prana vayu is the breath of life. It’s the vital force you draw in from your environment and absorb as nourishment for your growth.
Food, liquids, oxygen, sensory input, information — everything you consume is part of this inflowing force.
Active above the navel, prana vayu functions primarily in the head and chest areas. It’s action energizes and enlivens on every level of being.
Balanced & Imbalanced Prana Vayu
Anxiety, tension, shallow breathing, and emotions such as fear and anger are all signs of a weak prana vayu. Along with these symptoms comes a feeling of constriction, a sense of being closed off from the world.
The flip side is accepting and appreciating the moment and openness to new experiences. In this open state, we can draw in nourishment from our environment.
When prana is balanced and flowing, we feel a sense of expansion and fulfillment. When it’s weakened, we feel a contraction and disconnection.
Ways to Strengthen Prana Vayu
Every moment of every day provides us with a new and unique expression of energy. When we drop our defenses and open to it, we’re nourished. Prana comes pouring in as sustenance for our growth.
We can strengthen prana vayu by consuming fresh, nutritious, and easily digestible foods, pure air, and sunshine. And we can further enhance it by consciously opening to the energy coming through our environment and the people we’re in contact with. Keeping an open heart and mind will help us maintain a healthy flow of this vital force.
Overeating, drug and alcohol addictions, or even an overload of information and sensory input can exhaust pranic stores. We must digest and assimilate what we ingest and eliminate whatever we can’t use. Too much of anything can lead to indigestion and stagnation.
Through training, we can learn to increase our capacity to absorb prana and to use it to nurture our spiritual growth.
Practice for Strengthening Prana Vayu
Note: This practice is portable. You can implement it at any time or location during your daily activities.
1) Set your intention. Make the conscious decision to relax, open, and become quiet inside.
2) Become mindful of the moment. Make conscious contact with what’s taking place around you.
3) Breathe everything in as nourishment. Feel the energy of the moment flow into your chakra system.
To practice step 3:
Allow your awareness to follow your breath. Let it dissolve any tension it touches.
Take a deep, slow breath through the nose, allowing the energy and awareness to flow into the third eye area, descend into the throat, through the heart center, and down into manipura (the chakra just below the navel and slightly inward toward the spine).
Pause briefly, feeling the prana becoming absorbed deep into your chakra system.
Exhale and release.
This exercise aims to dissolve your resistance — your illusion of separation — so you can open more fully to the energy that sustains you.
Energy is always trying to flow in, but we block it with our resistance and tension. Resistance terminates the connection. It cuts us off from the newness and vitality of life.
Cut a branch from a tree, and its fruit will wither. It needs a root system to feed and sustain its growth.
Resistance and tension are born from the belief that we’re separate from the tree of life. Like the cut branch and its fruit, resistance appears to divide us from our source. But in reality, there’s no separation. We’re always one with the tree of life.
Applying this Practice:
We often close unconsciously to what we’re most familiar with. Our house and neighborhood become a background we barely pay attention to.
Eventually, you’ll learn to open to the ordinary, even to the things that repel you, and to draw from them all. But in the beginning, the easiest way to learn how to practice this exercise is by taking a trip out of your everyday surroundings.
The trip doesn’t have to be a vacation to a foreign destination — although I highly recommend that from time to time. For the purpose of this practice, you can go to a local museum or art gallery, take a walk on the beach or through the woods, or take a seat by the river.
Prana Practice: Field Trip to a Museum
As you walk through the halls of ancient artifacts, try not to look with the mind. Avoid spending too much time reading the descriptions on the cards next to the objects. Doing this can cause you to file the information away, imagining you have the item figured out.
This practice is not about acquiring more knowledge. It’s about opening to the vibration of the unfamiliar. Say you come across an oriental vase crafted in ancient China. Before your mind can analyze it, take a deep breath into the chakra system and open to what’s in front of you.
What does the vase feel like in your body? What is happing in your nervous system as you take it in? Do you notice any internal images or emotions? Breathe into those, allowing them to expand and circulate through you.
Everything in the museum is an expression of conscious energy. Each exhibit has the flavor of the artist or craftsman who brought it into existence years ago. If your mind is still and your heart is open, you can tune into that expression of energy and get a taste of what the artist felt while creating the piece.
Draw that feeling deeper inside you. Allow it to feed and nourish you. Let it inspire and stir something within you that will rise.
Prana Practice: A Walk in the Woods
The natural world is teeming with energy. Sitting in nature, hiking through the forest, or floating down the river in a kayak can balance your pranic field. And that’s without doing any practice at all.
The sounds of birds and insects, the smell of decaying leaves, and the beauty of wildflowers — all harmonize your nervous system. By removing yourself from the influence of fluorescent lights, air-conditioning, and LED screens and spending time outdoors, you will become lighter and uplifted.
These effects are greatly enhanced by consciously opening inside and allowing the prana around you to flow in.
As you walk through the woods, breathe in the energy using the method described above. Drop your mind into manipura chakra so you see and feel what’s happening around you rather than what you think about what’s happening around you.
Breathe in the sensation of leaves crunching below your feet, the sound of branches scraping against each other in the wind, and the excitement of the squirrels chasing each other in the tall pines overhead. Everything you perceive through your senses is humming with vital forces. By making conscious contact with your surroundings, you can tap into that abundant power.
Prana Practice: Attend a Music Festival
A live event like a music festival is another great place to practice drawing energy. When a talented band is playing, they have the entire audience’s attention. All the energy of the crowd is flowing in one direction.
Some bands with a long experience of playing live shows develop a sensitivity to this. They feel and play off the energy, creating a beautiful and spontaneous interaction. At the peak moments of well-known songs, the energy of the field becomes so charged it could power a small city.
Most members of an audience feel this energy to varying degrees. But they immediately externalize it. The force comes in, activates an emotion, and then shoots back out.
By using the exercise, you can deepen the richness of your experience. The sounds, smells, lights, the excitement of the crowd — you can learn to draw it all in. You can let it circulate through you and open you to higher dimensions of being.
It can take some practice, especially if you have aversions to crowds or don’t resonate with the music. And like any other life experience, there may be a million things inside you that create resistance.
You might be hungry or overheated. Or you might be shy and self-conscious and have thoughts spinning through your head about how you look or whether you’re dancing the right way.
The person beside you might be bumping into you or wearing a perfume you can’t stand. There may be a guy the size of Shaquille O’Neal blocking your view.
All of this is material you can work with. You can either choose to let it annoy you or to free you. When you let go and accept what is, you make conscious contact with the energy of the moment. You rise within yourself, and all your tensions and limitations fall away.
When your tensions loosen, you become more empty inside. That emptiness allows you to draw more prana in, then to let it go and draw in more.
That ability to continually receive and release allows you to stay open to the moment no matter what direction the energy comes from. It’s only through training each day that you’ll be able to sustain that kind of flow.
In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at samana vayu, the centering force.