The Vital Energies

Leading on from my last blog post, I wanted to give you a bit more detail about the pranamaya kosha and the vital energies within that sheath. 

The information is adapted from the book 'Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha' by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (pages 371-372). 

The pranamaya kosha is the energy sheath. It consists of five vital energies; prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana. These five vital energies help the body function as each looks after a certain area of the body and its organs.


In this context it refers to energy within the body rather than the overarching cosmic prana of the universe (the vital life force). It is concentrating on the flow of energy in the thoracic area between the larynx and the top of the diaphragm. It governs the heart and respiratory organs along with the muscles and nerves that activate them. It can be thought of as the force in which the breath is drawn inside.


The apana energy flow looks after the abdomen, below the belly button. It provides energy for the large intestine, kidneys, anus and genitals. It controls the expulsion of waste from the body. It's the force that forces out the breath.


Samana focuses on the space between the heart and the navel, the main part of the torso. It looks after the digestive system and the function of the liver, intestines, pancreas and stomach. Samana controls the assimilation and distribution of nutrients throughout the body.


We moved to the top part of the body with the udana energy flow. Udana is in charge of the head and neck, leading it to control the sensory receptors like the eyes, nose and ears. Because the udana energy flow governs the sensory receptors it makes sense that it is responsible for the erect posture of the body and consequently our ability to respond to the outer world.


Vyana is the concluding energy. It pervades the whole body, regulating all movement. Vyana coordinates the other pranas and is the reserve force for the other pranas.

You can remember these in a more logical order working from the bottom of the body, up; apana, samana, prana, udana and vyana. Or from the top to the bottom; udana, prana, samana, apana and vyana.