For yoga practitioners and teachers, pranayama is an often-cited word. Pranayama or life force is the breath work we do in yoga – to maintain the balance in body and mind.
According to a shloka in the atharvaveda:
Pranayamanmoyasya sarfa midam vashe
yo bhutaha sarvasyeshwaro yasminatsarva sarvpratishthatam
Hey Prana! You are the foundation of this world. Salutations to you. You are the light of all the worlds. You are the basis of this universe.
Pranayama is the control on one’s breath through practice of yoga. Our body finds life and movement through prana. Pranayama controls the modulations of the mind and brings stability and balance to one’s life.
Pranayama has three stages:
Purak or inhalation
Kumbhak or holding the breath
Rechak or breathing out and exhalation
Some dos and dont’s
It is advisable to learn pranayama from a yoga teacher and practice it along with meditation with a teacher. It should be practiced in clear and pollution-free environment for good results. You should sit in a quiet corner for meditation and pranayama and your mind should stable and still. You should start with a few rounds of inhalation and exhalation and increase this to more number of rounds as your practice becomes deeper. Pregnant women should avoid it. If you are sick or unwell, avoid until you regain health.
Some of the pranayamas are: bhastrika, nadi shodhan, anulom vilom, kapaal bhaati, bhhraamari, and so on.