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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 and preparation.

The Four Stages Of Pranayama

  • 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
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:

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 as focus.
  • It banishes stress and relaxes the body. It also gives tranquility, calmness and peace of mind because of controlling one's breathing.
  • 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 decisions.
  • Last but not the least, Pranayama leads to spiritual journey through a relaxed body and mind.


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