Note: This is part 3 of 7 of the five vayus series.
“By mastery over samana vayu, radiance is attained.” ~ Patanjali
Samana vayu is the inward movement of energy toward our core. It comes from the root words sam (together) and an (breathe). Samana is the force that merges polarizing energies. Its primary location in the body is at the navel center.
Samana vayu digests inflowing energy and helps us remain centered and balanced.
On a physical level, it breaks down the food we consume and is closely connected with agni, the digestive fire. It also maintains equilibrium throughout the various organs and systems of the body.
On a mental/emotional level, samana vayu is the force that digests our thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
On a higher plane, it’s the alchemical power within us that transmutes karma into fuel for our spiritual growth.
Balanced and Imbalanced Samana
When samana vayu becomes depleted or disturbed, we cannot fully digest our experiences. We store those unprocessed energies in the subtle body as karmic patterns, aka samskaras. These can be triggered later when we encounter similar experiences.
Samskaras create blockages that impede the free flow of Prana. One of the primary purposes of yogic practice is to remove those blockages and release the trapped energy. For this, we need a steady inner fire.
When samana vayu grows weak, our digestive fire fades and becomes incapable of properly breaking down and assimilating food. If this goes on long enough, we lose homeostasis within the bodily tissues and organs, giving rise to various diseases. Overeating or overconsumption of heavy, hard-to-digest foods can contribute to this imbalance, creating a build-up of waste and toxins.
A feeble samana vayu degrades our inner peace, draining our vitality. This lack of energy leads to an inability to process life experiences and the build-up of psychic baggage. If this energetic imbalance goes on long enough, it can cause nervous breakdowns and psychosis.
A weakening of samana vayu can cause burnout, fatigue, and a lack of motivation. It can induce a state of depression and apathy.
On the flip side, when the flow of samana vayu is steady and unimpeded, we’re calm, centered, and poised. We shine from within, ready to greet whatever the day may bring. Our metabolism is firing, and we draw nourishment from all the food, knowledge, and experiences we consume.
Ways to Strengthen Samana Vayu
- Stoke your digestive fire.
- Add cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne to help build the digestive fire.
- Avoid heavy foods, especially toward the end of the day.
- Avoid snacking while there is still food in the stomach.
- Keep your furnace burning clean and even by eating lighter, nutrient-dense meals spaced several hours apart.
- Abstain from iced or cold beverages — especially in colder climates — and from drinking too much during meals, which can douse the digestive fire and flush enzymes from the stomach.
- Practice pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses. Excessive consumption of information and entertainment and too much social stimulation or other sensory experiences can lead to a loss of inner peace and harmony. Be sure to take time to relax and refresh. This provides your inner fire with the oxygen it needs to survive.
- Stoke your passions. What is it that lights your fire? What motivates and excites you? Focus on that.
Meditation for Strengthening Samana
In this meditation on samana vayu, we will focus on the navel center, aka manipura chakra.
- Sit in a comfortable, upright position.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath through the nose down into the area just below the navel.
- As you do this, draw energy down from above and feel the body’s vital forces condensing in the navel chakra, adding fuel to your inner fire.
- Hold the breath here for a moment without straining, allowing a feeling of heat to build.
- Exhale, feeling the warmth spread outward into all the tissues and organs of the body.
- Rest in the silence for a moment, allowing the breath to return to a natural rhythm.
- Repeat the above practice until you feel a sense of balance and an inner glow.
In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at vyana vayu, the expansive force.