Samana Vayu and how I use the flow of Prana to support my practice
What is Samana?…Vayu?…Prana?…and what does any of that have to do with my posture practice?
“There is a current of love-energy that flows between Earth below and the Sun above. The central channel of the spine is the riverbed. The streaming is as delicate and powerful as the tingling touch of lovers. Entering there, radiance arches between the above and the below. The whole attention resting in the nerve, tingling delicately in the center of the spinal column, tracing that current between earth and sun, become magnetism relating all the worlds.” ~ Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, #12
Prana is our life-force energy or that which is infinitely everywhere. Through the study of ancient Yoga texts we know there are five directions of pranic flow. In Sanskrit we call them vayus. In English, vayus literally translates to “winds”. Understanding the vayus helps our asana (posture) practice by making them feel more balanced and easeful.
The two main vayus are prana vayu and apana vayu. Prana vayu is the flow of upward energy. Apana vayu is the downward flow of energy. Let’s think about how this works in a simple posture like Mountain Pose (Tadasana). The feet are hip distance apart and we are rooting down through the soles of the feet. This is our connection to the downward force of apana vayu. At the same time, we are standing tall, lifting upward through the crown of the head. This upward flow is prana vayu.
Two of the other main vayus are vyana and samana. Vyana vayu is the flow of energy from the core of our body outward to the limbs, an expansive quality. In Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana) the arms are firm, fingers reach long, our feet are placed wide and legs hold strong. Without connecting to the flow of vyana vayu, the arms become soft like spaghetti and our foundation falters. The pose loses its expansive quality.
With samana vayu the energetic flow travels towards the core of the body. In Side Angle Pose, when we consciously allow the energy to draw towards the very centre of the body, the abdomen firms, the tailbone grows longer and the heart lifts taking the overall feel of the pose to an even more expansive and strong space. Vyana and samana vayus are closely related.
So why did I choose samana as the name for my yoga business? Well, out of all the vayus it is the balancing vayu, it transforms everything we see, hear and ingest: our food, our emotions, our perceptions and our breath. It relates to the manipura chakra, which governs our self esteem, our warrior energy and power of transformation.
My hope is that Samana Yoga classes offer people a place to transform themselves positively, build resilience and reconnect with their warrior energy!