This is from a most marvelous manual called
"PRAANA, PRAANEE, PRAANAYAM,
Exploring the Breath Technology of Kindalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan," page 6.
Compiled by Harijot Kaur Khalsa.
Published by Kundalini Research Institute, Espanola, NM 87532.
Copyright 2006. Used with permission.
To get your own copy, please click here
The primal life force energy, praana, is an energy that is most clearly registered by our subtle senses. We humans are called praanee because praana is what makes our bodies and minds work. All praana is one, but to help understand the activity of praana within our bodies, the ancients categorized the activity of praana into "airs" (or energy flows--SGK) or vayus. While the action of these vayus occurs throughout the body, we can generalize about the areas in the body where each function is most obviously active.
The five major vayus are:
praana in the chest region which is linked to breathing and the drawing of new energy into the body;
apaana which is in the area below the navel and governs the functions related to eliminations;
samaana which is in the region between the thoracic diaphragm and the navel and governs digestion, discernment, and assimilation;
udyaana which operates from the larynx upward into the head and governs speech, projection, mental capacity, and memory. (It is believed that it is through the aid of this udyaana vayu that the Kundalini energy rises up to the Shashara or 10th Gate.* The 10th gate is the subtle or etheric "opening" at the top of the head where the energy of the individual is said to communicate with the Infinite intelligence.--SGK);
vyaana which pervades the entire body and accomplishes the distribution of energy into every cell.
The key to good physical and mental health is to keep our praana vayus balanced, flowing, and functional.
Yogi Bhajan taught that three of these five major vayus are the most important to us. "As a human, you have three forces in you: praana, udyaana, and apaana. If you can control those three vayus, the rest of the vayus will automatically come into alignment. According to the (ancient) scientific facts, the entire functioning of the body is not muscular and is not nervous either, it is by those airs.
"The force which gives you life is called praana. The force which maintains you is called udyaana. The force which is the eliminating faculty in you, is called apaana. So these forces are the principle vayus, powerful air currents. Udyaana relates to your nervous system. Praana gives you energy and apaana takes away what is not needed by you. These are three automatics and you can have conscious control of them if you are conscious enough."**
"Regulate the giver of your life, the Praana, and balance the praana, apaana, and udyaana so that you can always be in your self-consolidated ecstasy. There is a yogic sutra (aphoirsm) which I would like to translate: Any person who asks his praana to 'make me live', his udyaana to 'maintain me', and his apaana to 'let me live' can always be healthy."***
* Yogi Therapy or Yogic Way to Cure Diseases, Srimat Swami Shivananda Saraswati,
copyright 1957, p. 447
** Yogi Bhajan Lecture 12-13-95
***Yogi Bhajan Lecture 12-27-95