Article by Dr Raghuram, MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, BAMS
Udana Vata is one of the 5 subtypes of Vayu. It is located in chest and serves important functions in our day to day life with respect to heart and lungs. It is responsible for speech, memory etc functions.
Related reading –Sub Types Of Vata Dosha: Importance, Salient Features
Chief Site and sites of circulation of Udana Vayu
The chief site is Ura (chest, thorax, chest cavity).
The Udana Vayu operates its activities being located in chest cavity – mainly heart and lungs.
Areas of circulation of Udana Vayu
The areas of circulation of Udana Vayu are:
- Nasa – Nose, nostrils, nasal cavity
- Nabhi – Navel, umbilicus, diaphragm,
- Gala – Throat, neck
This shows the extended territory of Udana Vata. In spite of being chiefly located in the chest cavity, Udana Vata travels in upward and lower directions defining its territory. In the upward direction it moves up to the throat and nasal cavity. In its downward course it reaches the level of diaphragm and navel region (nabhi).
Functions of Normal Udana Vayu
Speech, voice and singing, articulation, phonation
Vak Pravritti (Bhashita) – Production of speech, phonation (production of words and voice, articulation) is the function of Udana Vata. Udana Vata is the only Vata among the Vata subtypes which has an urdhwa gati i.e. upward movement. While moving in the upward direction, the udana vata reaches the kantha (throat) and nasa (nose), stimulates them and produces the words.
The vocal cords, i.e. the apparatus of phonation and speech are located in Kanta and Kanta belongs to the territory of Udana Vayu. Since Prana Vata too moves in the chest which is a primary site of Udana Vayu and also in the Kantha, the coordination and synchronization between these two sub-types of Vayu is necessary for production of speech and words.
Samana Vayu and Jathara Agni (digestive fire) also participate in effective speech production. The process of speech production is not complete without the involvement and stimulation from atma (soul), buddhi (intellect) and manas (mind).
Geeta – Udana Vayu helps in singing, which is also a type of sound, a type of vak pravritti i.e. a musical way of conveying something. This also happens in a similar way as that of Vak Pravritti. The mechanism of speech and singing are alike.
The efforts, strength and energy
Prayatna – Efforts towards doing any task is enabled by proper functioning of Udana Vayu.
Urja (oorja) – We derive energy for all our activities with the help of normal and balanced Udana Vayu. The term oorja also includes enthusiasm and drive to do something. It is a physical as well as mental component.
Bala – Strength, endurance, immunity are provided by Udana Vata is in equilibrium and in peace with itself.
Varna – Color of the body of an individual is due to Udana Vayu.
To do any work we need to put effort. This effort is initiated by Udana Vayu in sync with Prana Vayu. Udana Vayu is located chiefly in the chest box where the important organs which carry on our life activities uninterruptedly are located i.e. heart and lungs. The heart supplies blood and nutrition to all parts of the body while the lungs aerate and oxygenate the blood. When the cells and organs of the body are enriched by high quality oxygen and nutrition, they get going in an enthusiastic way. This will keep up the physical and mental alertness and enthusiasm high and provide a drive to the work. The heart and lung functions are carried by Udana Vayu in sync with Prana and Vyana Vayus.
The same explanation holds good for the body able to sustain and maintain strength, endurance and immunity needed for all activities to keep going in a smooth way. Udana Vayu helps in providing the Urja or energy needed for all the activities in coordination with pitta and provides immunity and strength to carry on the daily activities with easy by coordinating with kapha.
Mind functions, retention and memory
Dhriti – Power of retention of information is the function of Udana Vayu.
Smruti – Power of reproduction of information, memory are under the control of Udana Vayu.
Mano Bodhana – Stimulation of mind, mind activities
Dhriti, Smruti and Mano Bodhana are higher activities and are essentially governed by the Brain and other parts of nervous system, which are located in Shiras i.e. cranial cavity. But Shiras is not one among the sites of Udana Vayu. We can explain this concept in this way.
Hridaya is explained in terms of Shirogata Hridaya (hridaya located in head) which is the brain or central nervous system and Urogata Hridaya (Hridaya located in chest cavity) which is the anatomical heart along with its blood vessels. Urogata Hridaya is under the control of Udana Vayu whereas the Shirogata Hridaya is under the control of Prana Vata. Hridaya is said to be the seat of manas – mind and the mind is involved in dhriti and smriti.
If we take the heart as the seat of manas, the mano bodhana, dhriti and smriti fall under its territory.
If we take the brain as the seat of manas and also the dhriti and smriti to be the functions of brain, being controlled by Prana Vayu instead of Udana Vayu in true terms, the brain still need proper blood supply and aeration for these activities to go on properly. The blood supply to the brain and oxygenation is under the control of Udana Vayu.
Therefore for the functions of brain, prana vayu and manas to take place properly, for dhriti and smriti to be manifested properly, they need a proper coordination and synchronization and cooperation with Udana Vayu located in the chest.
When the brain is depleted of blood circulation and oxygen, the mind and sense do not work. If this happens on long term, the dhriti and smriti components will take a beating leading to disorders of the brain afflicting basic intelligence and memory.
To sum up –
The description shows that this subtype of Vayu has two platforms of functions.
Higher Functions of Udana Vayu – While functioning at the level of Murdha (brain – head) performs higher functions like stimulation, maintenance and sustenance of Dhriti, Smriti and Mano Bodhana.
Lower Functions of Udana Vayu – While Udana Vayu travels in the lower areas like Uras, Nasa, Nabhi and Gala performs different functions like Vak Pravritti, Geeta etc.
All round functions of Udana Vayu – When Udana Vayu is functioning in coordination with higher and lower functions in an integrated way, it has widespread effect and impact all over the body in the form of stimulating and inducing Prayatna, Urja, Bala and Varna with the help of Prana Vayu and Vyana Vayu.
Effect of Vikrita (vitiated) Udana Vata
ऊर्ध्व जतृ गतान् रोगान् करोति च विशेषतः।
When Udana Vayu gets vitiated it causes the Urdhwa Jatru Rogas i.e. diseases around and above the level of your clavicle. These translate to diseases of mukha (face), nasa (nose), gala / kanta (throat, including thyroid diseases), aasya (mouth), netra (eyes), karna (ears), jihwa (tongue) and mastishka (brain), especially diseases afflicting smriti and dhriti and mano vikaras (mind disorders).
Note – The above said explanation also shows us the extended territory of Udana Vayu. Since disturbed Udana Vayu causes Urdhwa Jatru diseases, the terms nasa and gala includes almost all the organs and structures around them, but predominantly nasa and gala. We know that these structures are interconnected. Example, eyes open into nose, nose opens into throat, and ears also open into the throat. Therefore when Udana Vayu causes some problem to one of these structures, it also affects the others.
The term gala also involves thyroid gland. Thyroid disorders also cause disturbances of prayatna, urja, bala, varna and smriti, also cause mano vikaras. Udana Vayu also may afflict the other doshas in the jatru urdhwa desha like Prana Vayu, Sadhaka Pitta and Tarpaka Kapha.
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