The Five Subtle Aspects of Vāta Dosha
For general purposes, to balance the doshas, it is not necessary to know the five subtle aspect of each of them, but it can be helpful to have this knowledge when specific conditions need to be addressed. This knowledge also improves our understanding of nature's processes.
The soul's life force (prana) blends with the physical body at the base of the brain, at the medulla oblongata. From there, it flows to the higher brain and down into the body through the vital centers (chakras) along the spinal pathway. From the chakras, life force is distributed through channels (nādis) to enliven the physiology. Although life force is not physical, it relates to and acts upon organic matter. As life force becomes involved with the body, it expresses as different frequencies to perform various functions:
Prāna, the Primary Aspect: Seated in the brain and heart, it governs swallowing and inhalation. It regulates operations of the senses, our mental processes, the heart, and our states of consciousness. It enables us to draw in universal life force through the medulla oblongata. The four other aspects of prana are derived from this primary aspect. (Pra, forth; an, to breathe)
Udāna (upward moving aspect): Seated in the throat and active in the chest, it governs speech and exhalation. It contributes to lifting vital forces toward the higher brain when meditating, to expansion of consciousness when we aspire to transcendent realizations, and to the soul's withdrawal from the body at the time of transition. During meditation, when the body is relaxed, and mental processes and life forces are calmed and balanced, breathing becomes slow, smooth and refined, and awareness becomes clear. This occurs naturally when our attention is effortlessly absorbed in contemplation. It can be facilitated by the practice of pranayama before meditation. (Ud, up; a, toward; an, to breathe)
Samāna (equalizing aspect): Seated in the small intestine, it governs digestion, assimilation, and biochemical processes. (Sama, equal; an, to breathe)
Vyāna (pervasive aspect): Seated in the heart region and flowing throughout the body, it governs the circulatory system and the movements of muscles and joints, discharges internal secretions, resists decay, and maintains balance. (Vi, apart, a, toward; an, to breathe)
Apāna (downward moving aspect): Centered in the colon, it governs elimination of the body's waste products, menstruation, childbirth, and expulsion of reproductive fluids. (Apa, away, an, to breathe)
Mental confusion, emotional unrest, erratic lifestyle routines, overexertion, and any kind of trauma, including accidents which cause injury, fright or pain, can imbalance flows of life force in the body. Mental calmness and orderly thinking, emotional balance, regulated lifestyle routines, stress management, optimism, meditation, and relaxed, purposeful living help to maintain balanced flows of the body's life forces.