Using the Udana Vayu Prana In Your Yoga Practice

Enhance your yoga practice with the 5 prana vayus. Here’s a brief introduction to working with Udana vayu…

If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you’ve probably been introduced to some form of pranayama – or yogic breath practice. While there isn’t always a lot of emphasis placed on breath techniques in the Western world, breath work is an important aspect of many forms of yoga, and has traditionally been recognized as one of the 8 limbs of yoga.

Breath is equated with prana – or life force – in yoga, and controlling your breathing in various ways is believed to have a number of wide-ranging benefits, from stress relief, to better sleep, improved energy flow, and much more.

There are generally 5 different types of prana recognized in yoga. Today we are focusing on the Udana breath, which rules the throat center. According to Yoga International:

Udana vayu…holds special significance in spiritual practice. Udana is the upward-moving breath, which directs the flow of prana from the lower to the higher planes of consciousness. An ascending and radiant force, udana vayu is responsible for taking the mind from waking to sleep and to deep sleep, as well as to higher planes of existence after death. It is active primarily in the region between the heart and the head, bringing prana to the energy centers deep in the brain. As the vayu moving through sushumna nadi (the central axis of the subtle body), udana is associated with kundalini shakti, the creative, blissful consciousness of enlightenment.

Udana rules the throat center, manifesting as speech and other refined expressions, and governing growth and metabolism through the thyroid and parathyroid glands. When udana is balanced and strong, we stand tall and are joyous, enthusiastic, alert, articulate, and strong-willed. Deranged udana, on the other hand, may prod us to negative, inappropriate, or excessive speech—or render us unable to express ourselves at all. Since the throat center controls reception, deranged udana may hamper the intake or use of physical nourishment, while on a mental level, new ideas or experiences can seem “hard to swallow,” leaving us obstinate, arrogant, and inflexible—in a word, stiff-necked.

Poses that stimulate the throat center are helpful for balancing our udana energy:

Since udana is an ascending force, poses that direct energy to the head, neck, and upper back, and poses that turn the body upside down, are especially beneficial for activating udana. To avoid the negative consequences of reversing the normal energetic flow in the body, it is best to do inversions toward the end of practice when alignment has improved and physiological functions are more balanced.

Rabbit Pose, Fish Pose, Shoulderstand, Headstand, and Plow Pose are all good examples.

Lion Pose (Simhasana) is also a great way to activate udana and release blocked or excess energy in the throat center. When performing the pose, be especially mindful of the flow of the breath, particularly in the area of the navel center and the pelvis. Feel the energy from the pelvis, the navel center, and the upper body and arms all collecting in the throat and pushing out through the mouth as you breathe powerfully in the pose.

Read more about Udana at


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