The Five Sub-Doshas of Vata
1. Prana Vata ~ ‘Forward-moving air’
Primary air or nervous force. extends from the diaphragm to the throat, centered in the brain, governing inhalation and swallowing, as well as sneezing, spitting and belching; it is in charge of taking things like food, water and air into the system. It governs the senses, mind, heart and consciousness. It is our portion of 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. The term ‘Prana‘ is also used in a broader sense to indicate Vata in general, as all Vatas derive from it.
2. Udana Vata ~ ‘Upward-moving air’
Extends from the throat to the top of the head, located in the chest and centered in the throat, it governs exhalation and speech, endeavor, enthusiasm, memory, vitality, complexion (one of the body’s means of expressing its innate state of health). Udana determines our aspiration in life. At death it rises up from the body and directs us towards various subtle worlds according to the power of our will and the karma that move through it. When fully developed it gives us the power to transcend the outer world, as well as psychic powers. The practice of Yoga is involved primarily with developing Udana.
3. Samana Vata ~ ‘Equalizing-air’
Extends from the diaphragm to the navel, centered in the small intestine and the nervous system behind the digestive system. It is in charge of digestion and assimilation, and helps keep Prana and Apana in balance. Samana vats helps to keep balance and equilibrium in all the bodily systems.
4. Vyana Vata ~ ‘Pervasive air’
Pervades the entire body from its seat in the heart, distribution of nourishment by causing blood and other fluids to circulate, and producing locomotion, extension and contraction, perspiration and other such actions (discharge of impulses and secretions).
5. Apana Vata ~ ‘Downward-moving air‘
Operates from the navel to the anus, centered in the colon. In charge of: elimination, urination, menstruation, parturition and sexual activity. Apana, the descending air, carries life-force down and brings about the devolution or limitation of consciousness. Apana supports and controls all the other forms of Vata, and derangements of it are the basis of most Vata disorders (as the colon is Vata‘s main seat). As a downward moving force, when it is aggravated it causes decay and disintegration. Therefore, the treatment of Apana is the first consideration in the treatment of Vata.
• Robert E. Svoboda, Ayurveda Life, Health and Longevity
• David Frawley Ayurvedic Healing, A comprehensive guide