Pranayama is the fourth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. It can be described
as a breathing exercise that promotes proper breathing. The
technique of Pranayama is used to measure, control and direct the
breath of the practitioner. The aim behind the technique is to
restore and maintain the health of a person and promote evolution.
Pranayama controls the energy within us, teaches us the proper way
to breathe. With the breathing technique, we increase the capacity
of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the body to function
well. It is the science of breath control.
Pranayama is derived from the following words: Prana - "life force"
or "life energy" Yama - "discipline" or "control" Ayama -
"expansion", "non-restraint", or "extension" . It consists of series
of exercises, especially projected to meet the body's needs and keep
it in vibrant health. The deep and systematic breathing through
Pranayama helps in reenergizing our body. However, Pranayama should
be done only with proper preparation otherwise, it might result into
nervous breakdowns. It is part of a process in Yoga and breath
control is a spiritual practice of cleansing the mind and body.
Therefore, it should be done appropriately and with proper guidance
The Four Stages Of Pranayama
Breathing is an autonomic function of the body. The process is
performed even without concentrating on it. It is a normal part of
our life, though many at times we fail to pay attention to it. Here
are some reasons why Pranayama is important:
- Arambha: This is the initial stage wherein the person's
interest in Pranayama is awakened
- Ghata: This is the second stage where the three sariras
gross, subtle and causal merges to cover the soul.
- Parichay: The stage where the yogi gets familiar with the
knowledge of Pranayama
- Nispatti: The final stage of Pranayama allows the yogi
goes beyond his physical body, and unites with the supreme
Benefits of Pranayama
- Pranayama prevents one from acquiring diseases by reducing the
toxins and body wastes from our body.
- It also plays a vital role in maintaining the digestive system
and helps in one's digestion.
- The proper way of breathing helps in improving one's metabolism
and health condition.
- Pranayama develops and improves the concentration level as well
- It banishes stress and relaxes the body. It also gives
tranquility, calmness and peace of mind because of controlling one's
- Pranayama offers a better self-control that also involves
control over one's physical body.
- It improves the concentration thus, making it easy for an
individual to handle temper and reactions.
- It allows mind to function clearly, avoiding arguments and wrong
- Last but not the least, Pranayama leads to spiritual journey
through a relaxed body and mind.