Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of Prana, or vital life force. It is a process by which the mind is controlled by Voluntary regulation of the breathing. From yogic point of view it is a path that connects one’s physical existence and the spiritual consciousness. According to Patanjali, a slightest change brought in the normal speed of breathing is ‘Pranayama’. Also systematically controlled and prolonged inhalations and exhalations constitute Pranayama. Obviously to do this a voluntary control is necessary. In normal breathing also, there is a pause between inhalation and exhalation that may be only for a few milliseconds. Therefore voluntary control brought on any one of the three, i.e., inhalation, exhalation, the pause, or on all three, will be called ‘Pranayama’.
Etymology of Pranayama
The word Pranayama is formed by 2 words i.e., ‘Prana’ and ‘Ayama’. ‘Prana’ means life force, which provides energy to different organs and also controls many vital life processes, like respiration and circulation of blood. ‘Ayama’, on the other hand, signifies the voluntary effort to control and direct the Prana.
Breathing is one of the vital activities governed by Prana, considering that the mind could be controlled effectively with the voluntary regulation over breathing.
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