Samana vayu, or “balancing air,” is the prana vayu at the meeting point between prana, the inward/upward-moving vayu, and apana, the outward/downward-moving vayu. Samana vayu unites these two energies together. Located at the navel, samana vayu governs agni, the digestive fire, or fire of purification. This fire burns adequately when prana and apana unite in samana.
Samana vayu is related to Manipura chakra located at the solar plexus. It is responsible for the processing and assimilation of all that is taken in—food, emotions, perceptions, and breath. Samana is used to assimilate these energies so that they can be used optimally.
Samana vayu helps us to take in what we need and release what we don’t in an even balance. This represents balance between the flow of prana and apana. An imbalance of samana vayu presents as health conditions including digestive disturbances, slow metabolism, malnourishment, or obesity. In our daily lives, if we are feeling out of balance, samana is likely to be affected.
Pranayama practices that balances inhalation with exhalation are helpful as a way to balance samana. By matching the length and depth of each inhalation and exhalation, prana meets apana, thereby helping to balance samana. Asanas to practice for optimizing samana include Parivritta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Shalabasana (Locust Pose), Marichyasana (Sage Twist), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold), and proper engagement of Uddiyana Bandha, or navel lock, upon each exhalation.
A healthy diet and good digestive health are important aspects of working with samana vayu. Also, making time to observe our mental health—taking in that which we need and discarding that which does not serve us—helps to set the balance that arises with samana vayu. Take some time this month to think about what aspects of your life need balance, and work on bringing everything back toward the center as a way to work on your samana vayu.