Pancha Maha Prana

How prana works?

Let’s understand how prana works on various functional systems of the body. Now this energy manifest as 5 different pranas called Pancha maha Pranas performing 5 different activities in the body.

Pancha Maha Prana

Like how you have different departments in an organization, this Prana divides itself into 5 divisions to take care of different functions in our body-mind complex. This is how Prana works.

They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana. All these 5 pranas have to work in unison to achieve well being both physically and mentally. Even if one prana is less or more, then that part of the function is affected, so we have to ensure that Pranas works properly.

Let us look into it one by one on how Prana Works…


The first vayu in Panca Prana is Prana. It is one of the five Maha Pranas. Where do we get Prana from? How Prana works? We get Prana from all the five elements of the universe, from the food we eat – the Earth element, From liquids we drink – the water element, the air we breathe – Air element, from Sunlight – the fire element – and Space – akasa through our thoughts. If we are filled with negative thoughts, our prana is also low…

You can relate this to the resources and raw material procurement department. In a software company, it is just like the Human resources department.

The location of this division of Prana is the chest… Your thoracic region below your neck till your diaphragm. This is responsible for the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. Prana is upward moving energy. This is also responsible for our emotions, absorbing information, sensory inputs, and control of our mind.

You can also manage ailments such as chest infection could be a common cold, flu, or bronchitis, anything to do with respiration by increasing Prana Vayu in your body. At times, when we notice that we can do multi various things, at times when we can handle too many issues at the same time, it means you are strong in Prana vayu.

All the asanas that open up your chest, all the backward bend poses, and pranayama practices generate more prana vayu.


Samana is the vayu that is responsible for our absorption of nutrients from the food we intake. We can say that the Prana that we receive, converts to energy through Samana vayu. In an office, this is like the factory or the work hub where actual production happens. In the human body, these are like production of nutrients by the body.

The location of the Samana vayu is between our diaphragm and navel region. This is an energy that moves in a circular pattern and goes inwards. It also helps assimilation and absorption of nutrients from the food we intake at the physical level.

Processing Information

At the mental level, it works on processing information and assimilation of the essence. We are constantly exposed to multiple pieces of information throughout the day. How many things are unwanted for us in life… we are forced to been exposed thanks to technological advancement. The mind has to retain the ones we need and discard those we don’t need. When a bad experience happens, two things happen to us… One there forms an impression in our mind about that experience… which is a bitter one, The second thing is, ‘there is a learning out of that experience’ We also need to retain the learning and let go of the impression out of that bad experience. Samanu vayu is capable of retention of the learning that comes out of an experience.

Yoga sutra in its third chapter talks about Samana vayu. It states that one who has mastered Samana vayu has a radiance, a kind of aura around his or her body. So how to improve the Samana vayu?

Asanas that twist your abdomen like the twists in triangle pose, all the variations of twists in the supine pose, any asana that work on your abdomen such as forward bend, boat pose, Kriyas like Kapalabathi … all these generate Samana Vayu.


Apana Vayu is responsible for the excretory and reproductive systems of our body.
Location: It is located below the navel. It is an energy that moves downward and out. It provides the energy for our intestine, kidneys, and genitals. Apana Vayu is responsible for the excretion of our food waste and the elimination of toxins from our body through various means.

So once the production is done, the waste generated has to be disposed of. When Apana vayu is not active, then we end up with constipation… If overactive, then the opposite happens.

This is at the physical level. At the mental level, it helps us to eliminate bad impressions from our minds. Besides, if Apana vayu is week, then we will be constantly be worrying about unwanted things.

All the asanas that give compression on your lower abdomen, regulate Apana vayu such as Wind relieving pose, locust, Malasana. 


Vyana is responsible for the circulatory system in our body. The location is all over the body. It is outward moving energy. From the center, it moves all over the body. The energy that is been generated through Samana vayu from food, water, and the air is supplied throughout the body using this Vyana Vayu. Sometimes you feel you are high in energy but still don’t have the inclination to work because it means we are low in Vyana vayu at that time.

At the mental level, if Vyana vayu is strong, your thoughts and feelings are free-flowing. There is no obstruction to express yourself. You are energetic and active. Besides, a good number of repetitions of Surya Namaskar or a good Vinyasa practice generates vyana vayu in the body.


Udana vayu is upward moving prana. It is responsible for our nervous system. Udana vayu acts upon the neck region towards our head. It is also responsible for higher thought processes, intuition, and managing the nervous system. Udana Vayu is like the CEO of the office. It makes the strategic decisions, controls every operation.

Finally, the takeaway from this post is to maintain good health all the 5 pranas have to work together. 

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