by Morgan Webert
Continuing on with our exploration of the Prana Vaues, we see that as we balance our inward and outward flows of energy, prana and apana vayus, and they unite in the body’s central fire, we assimilate and digest all we’ve been exposed to and experienced. This is the energy of samana vayu, and with it we undergo transformation (see previous posts).
This process of transformation initiates a fourth energy that rises up from the naval center to the area of the throat and nose, called udana vayu, and brings voice, expression and outward manifestation of our internal metamorphosis.
Udana vayu allows us to vocalize the results of balanced energy through Yoga practice; namely a deeper connection to our own divinity and purpose within the cosmic order. Ayurvedic scholar Maya Tiwari says, “Our voice is a reminder of our sacred origin.”
Udana provides us with our vocal powers and clarity of perception and memory. It also preserves our natural forces such as will power and capacity for effort. We learn from it alertness, sanity and how to control our sound. Being clear in speech protects udana and preserves our nature of awareness.
Tiwari goes on to say, “All harmonious sound produced by humans resonates with the vast and immutable consciousness. Likewise, all disharmonious noise we utter or create, whether through our own voices our mechanical devices, results in the impairment of memory, both experiential and cognitive, as well as alienation from our cosmic nature.”
When udana is deranged it may cause negative, inappropriate or excessive speech, or simply keep us in a place unable to express ourselves at all.
Connecting to the throat
To get in touch with and cultivate an awareness around the energy emanating from our throat we practice Ujjayi Pranayama. Let us first listen simply to the sound and quality of our breath before we listen to the sound of our words.
In Ujjayi breathing there is a deliberate subtle contraction of the larynx (back of the throat) to narrow the air passage. This produces a soft noise in the throat as we breath. Ujjayi translates as “what clears the throat and masters the chest area.”
An easy way to find this contraction is to open the mouth and breath out as though you’re fogging up the lens of your sunglasses. Then make the same kind of breath but with your mouth closed.
Keep the contraction of the larynx soft and the breath flowing. First find this breathing while sitting with the eyes closed and notice how the sound keeps your attention on the breath. Cultivating this attention to breath will give you a life long tool for self awareness.
Once you’ve found ease with the Ujjayi breathing start to use it in your asana practice, and notice how it helps you focus on coordinating breath and movement. This union of breath, movement and mind is one of the most beneficial and balancing aspects of any Yoga practice.
Another excellent practice to bring harmony into the udana vayu is AUM chanting. The sound AUM, often chanted at the beginning and end of yoga practices, represents the origin and the energy source of the whole universe.
When we chant AUM we harmonize ourselves with this original and ever present background sound of the universe and reinforce our connection to it. By chanting AUM repeatedly we synchronize ourselves with the world around us.
A great example of the power of sound waves and the intrinsic nature of harmony comes from the Dutch physicist and inventor of pendulum clocks Christiaan Huygens. Huygens mounted a number of pendulum clocks on the same wall all set to tick at different speeds. After a while they began to tick in unison, synchronizing as a result of the sympathetic resonance of the collective sound waves created within the wall.
Find somewhere private where you can sit and AUM away until you feel synchronized with the sympathetic resonance of the universe, it’s bliss!