What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation. It’s an important limb of yoga, an exercise for body and mind. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life force and “yama” means extension or control or freedom, eventually Pranayama teaches us to breathe the least we can for survival.

The practice of pranayama involves breathing exercises. You purposely inhale, exhale, and hold your breath in a specific sequence, as per hatha yoga books inhale is puraka , exhalation is rechaka and retention is called kumbhaka.

Hatha yoga text also suggests pranayama as kumbhaka, as mentioned above it is a way to learn to breath the least.

As per Ashtanga yoga from Yoga philosophy pranayama is 3rd limb after Asana followed by pratyahara (practice of sense withdrawal) , in order to connect with Prana the vital energy in body we need to work with the breath , learn to be aware of it and then learn to manipulate it in different ways to achieve different benefits of it

There are several ways to manipulate the breath that are given specific names in yoga texts some are mentioned following

  • Nadi shodhan (alternative nostril breathing)


  • Bhastrika(below’s breathing)


  • Kapalabhati(strokes breathing)


  • Bhramari(humming bee)


  • Chandra bhedi(left nostril breathing)


  • Surya bhedi(right nostril breathing)


  • Sheetkari & Sheetkari(cooling breathing)


  • Ujjayi(ocean sound breathing)


Are some types of pranayama which are mentioned in hatha yoga texts.

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