For the past couple of days, I have been feeling “under the weather”: Perhaps a more apt phrasing would be “with the weather,” as my general not-well-ness coincided with the first blast of significant snowfall and frigid temperatures of the season. As the air froze, the snowflakes flew, and the landscape changed from soft, white wonderland to whirling, icy tundra, my body slowed, slumped, chilled, and seized. A low-grade headache set in, my stomach cramped and roiled, and my inner thermostat struggled to find its soothing warmth.
Initially, I tried the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach: I forced myself to bundle up and venture out, hoping that fresh air would shift the trajectory of my flagging immune system. Instead, deep fatigue resulted, with muscles begging to be left alone. I heeded their plaint, and surrendered to rest mode.
Stillness, however, only exacerbated the inner chill, so I opted for a gentle yoga flow. My body, however, had tried to tell me previously that it needed a break; the movement ushered in “funny tummy.” Remanded to my couch, I piled on layers of thermals and fleece, and clambered beneath mounds of down.
Later, stiff from hours of sitting and lying, I moved onto the floor. Instead of any movement, however, I began thumping: I recalled that in order to generate, circulate, and balance all of the system’s energies, the vayus needed some attention. Of interest to me was that as I lightly pummeled each vayu’s associated anatomical region, I realized that I also was thumping around some of the body’s primary lymph nodes. So, as the vayus rebalanced the energetic body, the lymph nodes joined in to re-establish physiological health.
Vayus (or winds) are the five main subdivisions of Prana, the vital energy force within each of us. As one of the vayus, prana (with a small “p”) resides in the chest region; as such, it supports the lungs and respiration. As you thump softly in the area, not only will you awaken prana, you will stimulate the thymus gland; further, if you curl your fingertips lightly around the clavicle and exert light pressure into the soft tissue above, you will massage the lymph nodes in that area.
The other vayus are samana, apana, udana, and vyana. When I first learned about the vayus in a kundalini class, we thumped them in the aforementioned order: prana, samana, apana, udana, and vyana. Samana corresponds with the abdominal region. (With my stomach ache, I opted for light clockwise massage, rather than thumping; as always, you can modify—or bypass— a suggestion according to individual need.) As the stomach metabolizes physiologically, samana vayu promotes discernment and clarity: In order to clear up mental or emotional confusion, activate samana vayu.
Next, thump around your groin and upper inner thigh; you will access apana vayu and the inguinal lymph nodes. From a yogic perspective, apana is the eliminatory energy of the body, and moves unnecessary or toxic energy down and away.
Udana vayu lives in the throat area, as, of course, do the cervical lymph nodes. I find that tapping the back of the neck, and stroking downward on the throat is the most effective way to circulate energy in the udana vayu region. Not surprisingly, udana vayu–like the throat chakra–governs expression and voice quality,
Lastly, vyana vayu oversees and ensures the balanced flow of Prana throughout the body and mind. As it relates to muscles and joints, I like to think of vyana vayu as the energetic fascia of the body—it wraps around, protects, and connects all of the other vayus. You might choose to thump, tap, or briskly rub up and down your arms and legs to enhance vyana vayu’s power; shaking lightly and loosely is another good option.
Cheers to feeling better!