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OVERVIEW OF AYURVEDA

VATA & 5 SUBTYPES

VATA & 5 SUBTYPES


Vata is a force conceptually made up of the elements AAKASHA
(space, void) and VAYU (air, motion). The proportions of
Akasha and Vayu determine how active Vata is. The amount of
Akasha affects the ability of the Motion to gain momentum.
Of the universal qualities, Vat dosha has a predominance of
RAJAS.
Vata dosha, as described in the Introduction to Tridosha, is
responsible for origin and destruction. In brief, it initiates the
spark or movement for creation and also sets in the parameters
for destruction. Hence it is understood as the prime force
present or dominant at the birth and death of any entity. It
determines motion in perception of wind or static as the earths
movement around the sun. It is responsible to carry an energy
source as Kapha to Pitta for transformation and then transport
the converted energy to their locations.

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VATA & 5 SUBTYPES

FUNCTION
To understand Vata dosha from a human perspective we need to
understand its functions as depicted by Vagbhat in
Ashtanghrudaya:
utsaho uchwas nischwa chesta vegpravartanai
samyagagatya cha dhatunam ksharnam patven cha 11/1,
Vata is responsible for the senses, intellect, digestion, excretion
and touch. It provides individuals with sensory observations,
which lead to enthusiasm, reasoning, and creativity. It also
supplies the brain with intellectual capacity for memory and
wisdom. In the digestive process, vata is part of the final stages,
and thus helps in elimination of food from the body. Lastly,
tactile sensation is supplied by vata as it is partly composed of
air.
On a deep scan of these functions we can comprehend that VAT
dosha is associated with movement or motion of any kind,
whether it can be perceived visually, as in the case of a
locomotion or other actions, or comprehended mentally as in
case of the flow of thoughts, energy, etc.

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LOCATION
Vat dosha has its prime seat of location in a human body. In
Ashtanghrudaya it is described as:
pakvashay kati sakthi shotra asthi sparshanendriyam
sthanam vatasya tatrapi pakvadhan visheshtaha 12/1
The locations mentioned are the
Large and small intestines,
Ears, and the
Sense organ of touch [skin].
However, Pakvashaya, which can be correlated to the major
part of the large intestine, is considered as the prime seat of
action.

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VATA & 5 SUBTYPES

OVERVIEW OF AYURVEDA
VITIATION [INCREASE AND DECREASE]

The pathology of Vata dosha can be studied when its proportions


increase or decrease in the body.
Since Vat dosha is responsible for transportation and motion, its
increase logically can result in the uncontrolled increase of
these functions, which may lead to early burn outs, exhaustion
of resources and friction. The stability of the body would be
disturbed with arrhythmic movements whether it be heart
beats, speech or movement of joints.
Increase of Vat dosha is described in Ashtanghrudaya as:
karshya karshinyorushnaamitva kampa aanah
shakrud grahan balanidra
indriya bransh paralap bhram dinata. 11/6
Emaciation
Dark skin tone
Desire for hot things
Tremors
Flatulence
Constipation
Loss of strength
Insomnia
Malfunction of the sense organs
Hallucinations.

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Decrease of Vat dosha would have an opposite effect. The


movements would be highly reduced. Transportation of
materials and evacuation of wastes would be slowed down,
leading to a build up of toxins.
The decrease of Vat dosha is described in Ashtanghrudaya as:
lingam ksheena anila angasya sada alpam bhashitehitam
sanya mahostatha shleshma vruddha yuktamaya sambhava
11/15
In brief the symptoms include
Loss of speech,
Loss of motor functions
Delirium
Symptoms similar to increase of Kapha dosha

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VATA & 5 SUBTYPES

VATA SUBTYPES
Vata dosha carries out its various functions through its subtypes.
We have already looked at the subtle relation of Vata dosha and
its subtypes, which are co-related to humors in modern terms.
Vat dosha is the all-governing force in the cosmos and humans
are one part of its manifestation. In humans Vat dosha sustains
the body along with the other two doshas, Kapha and Pitta.
However, Vata dosha functions in the body are subject to
malfunctions, which ultimately proves to be a contributing
factor to the physical death of the body.
The functions of Vata are vivid as described earlier and are more
specifically carried out or identified by its subtypes.
Vata has 5 subtypes, they are:
PRANA
UDANA
SAMANA
VYANA
APANA
These are the Sanskrit names of the five types of Vata. There
are no equivalent terms in English. They are formed by adding
various prefixes to the root "an," which means to breathe or to
energize. They are the most important of these groups of five,
as Vata is the most important of the Doshas. They are called
"Vayus" which also means winds. They show the different kinds
of movement of the life-force.
Let us have a brief look at each of the Vayus.
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PRANA
Prana (pra-ana) means the forward or "primary air" or nervous
force.
The prefix "pra" means forward, towards or prior, and relates to
absorption.
Ashtang hruday gives description of Prana Vayu as
pranadibheda panchatma vayu pranotra murdhaga
urah kanthacharo buddhi hruday indriya chiitadhruk
pshtivan shavathu udgarani shwasannapraveshkrut
Prana Vayu is located in the Brain, Nose and Throat.
Prana vayu functions in the head, neck and chest region, and
the direction of its action is from the atmosphere to the inside
of the body. It carries out the functions of the sensory organs in
the head and acts as a receptor of all external stimuli.
Pervading the head and centered in the brain, Prana moves
downward to the chest and throat. It governs inspiration
(inhaling during breathing, which helps in purifying the blood);
taking in food and water; as well as sneezing, spitting and
belching.
It governs the intake of impressions through the five senses of
touch, smell, sound, taste and vision; interpreting these
impressions and coordinating reactions to them; mental
activities and grasping of knowledge. Prana vayu also keeps the
consciousness intact.
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On an inner level, it governs the mind, heart and consciousness


and gives them energy, coordination and adaptability. It is our
portion of the cosmic life energy and directs all the other Vatas
in the body. It determines our inspiration or positive spirit in life
and connects us with our inner Self or pure consciousness.
(It should be noted that the term "Prana" is also used in a
broader sense to indicate Vata in general, as all Vatas
derive from it).
Prana has mainly an inward movement. It serves to bring the
external air, food and water inward. It enables us to take in
impressions, to receive sensory impulses. In the same way, it
allows us to take in feelings and knowledge. It affords us
receptivity to external sources of nourishment. These depend
upon the opening of our mouths and senses, and the opening of
the mind behind them.
Prana gives us receptivity towards internal forms of
nourishment, like our inner connection to the cosmic life-force.
When Prana is sufficient, no disease can affect us. All diseases
involve some impairment of Prana and can be treated with
methods like Pranayama, breathing exercises, or aroma therapy,
which help balance it, as the course will outline.

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UDANA
Udana (ud-ana) means the "upward moving air" or nervous
force. The prefix "ud" means upwards.
Ashtang hruday gives description of Udana Vayu as
urasthanam udanasya nasanabhigalansancharet
vakpravrutti prayatna urja bal varna smrutikriya
Udan Vayu is located
region and throat.

Chest and throat, Nose, Umbilical

Udan vayu acts in the opposite direction of Prana vayu. It acts in


an upward and outward direction. It governs exhalation and
orientation of speech, both of which occur through the outgoing
breath.
It allows us to express ourselves through talking, singing,
whistling, etc.; to show emotions through laughter or tears; and
to perform actions such as sneezing and blowing.
Production of energy and power in the body are linked with
Udana Vayu. It is primarily related with the regulation of
respiration.
On an inner level, Udana is responsible for memory, strength,
will and effort. These reflect how our energy tries to ascend in
life.

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It governs how we express our energy in life, including our work.


It governs our self-expression in word, thought and effort.
Udana determines our aspiration in life.
Udana has primarily an upward movement. It brings the air up
and out in exhalation. It brings our energy up in our strivings in
life. It causes our minds and spirits to ascend. It gives us higher
values and deeper powers of discrimination.
At death, it rises up from the body and directs us towards
various subtle worlds according to the power of our will and
karma that move through it. When fully developed, it gives us
the power to transcend the outer world, and affords various
psychic powers. The practice of yoga is involved primarily with
developing Udana, through which the Kundalini arises.

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SAMANA
Samana (sama-ana) means the "equalizing air". "Sama" means
balancing as in the word "same".
Ashtang hruday gives description of Samana Vayu as
samano agni samipastha koshto charit sarvatah
annanm gruhati pachati viivechayati munchati
Samana Vayu is located in Gastrointestinal tract. It is present
in the area of the abdomen, where digestion takes place. It is
centered in the small intestine
It is the nervous force behind the digestive system. Its main
function is to ignite the digestive fire and activate the process
of digestion by creating peristalsis in intestinal movements. It
also helps in the separation and absorption of digested food and
carries excretory wastes to the large intestine. When impaired,
it causes a lack of appetite or nervous indigestion.
It is the predominant Vayu in the internal organs including the
liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach, and upper portion of the large
intestine. It functions in all organs to aid in absorption and in
this regard also works in the lungs to help with the absorption of
air.
Samana mainly has an equalizing or balancing action and a
contracting movement. It balances the higher and lower
portions of the body and their respective energies. It balances
the inner and the outer and the upper and lower parts of the
body in the process of digestion. As it aids in assimilation and
increase of energy, it has some ascending action.
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VYANA
Vyana (vi-ana) means the "diffusive or pervasive air". "Vi" is a
prefix meaning "apart" or "to separate".
Ashtang hruday gives description of Vyan Vayu as
vyano hrudistithaha krutsandehcharo mahajavaha
gatyapuksheparnotkshep nimeshunmeshparnadikaha
paryah sarvakriyatsmin pratibadha sharirinam.
Vyana Vayu is located in the entire body and specifically the
Heart.
Vyana has mainly an outward and expanding movement.
Vyan vayu is centered in the heart and distributed throughout
the entire body. It governs the circulatory system maintaining
the rhythm of the heartbeats, dilatation and constriction of
vessels, the movement of the joints and muscles
(musculoskeletal system), and the discharge of impulses and
secretions within these systems. It performs the function of
nerve impulse conduction and is responsible for the perception
of touch by means of skin. It is the initiator of all actions and
movements everywhere in the body including mental activities.
When it is impaired, we suffer from lack of coordination and
difficulty in movement, particularly walking. When it is strong,
we have good powers of movement and physical articulation.
Vyana allows us to exercise and do physical work. However, it
can diffuse or disperse our energy.

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APANA
Apana (apa-ana) means the "downward moving air" or the air
that moves away (apa).
Ashtang hruday gives description of Vyan Vayu as
apanoapnaga shronibasti medrorugacharaha
shukraartavasharunmutra garbhanishkramankriya
Apana Vayu is located in the Pelvis, Urinary Tract and the
Reproductive system.
Apana acts in a downward direction. It is responsible for the
elimination of waste products like urine and stool, for the
passage of menstruation blood every month and for sexual
functions.
Apan vayu is the primary vayu present at the main seat of Vata,
in the Pakvashaya [colon, large intestine].
It governs all downward moving impulses of elimination
(defecation), urination, menstruation, parturition and sex. It
governs the absorption of water, which occurs in the large
intestine and gives us the power to take in full nourishment
from our food, the final stage of digestion, which also occurs in
the large intestine. It activates and mobilizes sperm, enables
performance of sexual activities, and is central to ovulation,
menstruation and the process of childbirth. It aids in the
nourishment of the fetus, and supports the immune system (our
ability to eliminate or ward off toxins).
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Apana supports and controls all the other forms of Vata because
it rules the large intestine, Vata's main site of accumulation.
Derangements of Apana are the basis of most Vata disorders. As
a downward moving force, when aggravated, it causes an
increase of waste materials and toxins.
Its impairment manifests as difficulty or abnormality in these
discharges, for example, both constipation and diarrhea.
Apana has mainly a downward movement. As Udana, the
ascending air, it carries our life force upward and brings about
the evolution or liberation of consciousness. Apana, the
descending air, carries it down and brings about the devolution
or limitation of consciousness. In excess, it causes decay and
death. It becomes like a drain of energy that allows our lifeforce to flow away and sink down into the earth.
Apana is the descending force of decay that manifests whenever
there is loss of strength or an accumulation of toxins. Apana is
the power of disease inherent in the body itself, our naturally
tendency to decay as part of our connection to the earth.
The treatment of Apana is the first consideration in the
treatment of Vata. This allows Prana and Udana and the other
Vayus (Vatas) to return to their normal functioning by reducing
the restraining action of Apana.
As Vata disorders are the basis of most diseases and as they
usually accompany those of the other two Doshas, we must
always consider normalizing Apana in the treatment of any
disease.

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SUMMARY OF THE FIVE PRANAS


PRANA has an inward and downward movement. Its site of
action is in the head. It governs the INTAKE of energy via food,
drink, breath, impressions, emotions, thoughts and
consciousness. It resides in the head and moves inward and
downwards allowing for the reception of all energy sources. The
breath is the key action for Prana. In breathing we not only take
in energy from the air, we can also connect with subtler sources
of energy through the consciousness. Conscious breathing feeds
both energy and consciousness. What brings about right function
of Prana is right receptivity in life, openness to the Divine and
the cosmic life-force.
UDANA has an upward movement. Its sites of action are the
nose, throat, chest and umblicus. It governs the OUTPUT of
energy via our expression through speech, physical effort,
emotional enthusiasm and mental judgment. It is responsible for
our creative use of energy. It is the ultimate result of nutrition,
the positive energy created through it. What brings about right
function of Udana is right aspiration in life and right values.
SAMANA has an inward movement towards the deeper tissue. Its
sites are the GI-tract especially the small intestine. It governs
the ABSORPTION of energy via the digestive and other systems.
If our minds and emotions are not in balance (sama) then we
will not be able to absorb nutrients on any level. What brings
about right function of Samana is peace and balanceharmony
and equilibrium within ourselves and with our natural
environment.

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VYANA has an outward direction towards the periphery. Its site


is the entire body, especially the heart. It governs the
CIRCULATION of energy via the circulatory system (physical
body) but also through the breath, senses, emotions, thoughts
and consciousness. It transports the absorbed Prana to the
places where it can work and express itself. What brings about
right function of Vyana is right action, action in harmony with
our values and aspirations, including the free expansion of
thought, emotion, perception and consciousness.
APANA has a downward and outward movement. Its sites are the
pelvis, urinary tract and reproductive systems. It governs the
ELIMINATION of waste energy via all energy sources. These
include urination, bowel movements, and exhalation. Apana is
like a plug on the energy in the body. It can be opened to let
waste energy out but if kept too open it will drain the Prana
from the body altogether. Yet on the positive side it eliminates
toxins, supports the other Pranas, and continues life through
reproduction. What brings about the right functioning of Apana
is our ability to ward off negativity, to not respond to it. Apana
in its right functioning wards off decay by eliminating the forces
of decay from the body.

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All five Vayus are more complex than their simple physical
presentation. Besides their sites and actions in the physical
body, they also have their actions on the subtler aspects of our
being as the senses, breath, emotions, thought and
consciousness. Each has its activity on the skin as well (which
relates to the senses and breath). Keeping all five Vayus in
balance and in proper functioning on all the levels of our being
is the key to real health.

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