“Prana” is Breath or energy in the body. Therefore, Pranayama is “Control of Breath”. One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve a healthy body and mind. In layman terms, Pranayama is basically a series of exercises, which aims at bringing more oxygen to the blood and to the brain.

What does Pranayama Mean?

The word Pranayama is a combination of two Sanskrit words: ‘Prana’ meaning life force ‘Ayama’ meaning to restrain or to draw out The combined form – Pranayama – is roughly translated as breath control. It is a practice in yoga that involves the regulation of your breathing through specific techniques and exercise. The purpose is to relax the mind and body through a combination of inhaling, exhaling, and retaining of breath.

What are the Benefits of Pranayama?

Practising Pranayama is beneficial for a number of reasons:
  • Focusing on your breathing helps in managing stress.
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Helps with a number of medical ailments such as anxiety, depression, hypertension, headaches, and gastric problems.
  • Some research suggests that it can help with improved cardiovascular function.
  • Provides deep relaxation for the mind and body.
  • Increases respiratory function

Things to keep in mind before practising Pranayama

Though most forms of yoga are safe to practice across the board, it is advised that people who want to practice different Pranayamas should at least have some prior experience doing yoga. And it is best if Pranayama is practised under the supervision of a teacher. Certain breathing exercises are not advised for the following people;
  • Those who suffer from hypertension or low blood pressure
  • Those recovering from a recent heart attack
  • Those with chronic heart conditions
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with bronchitis or severe breathing issues
  • It is best to be checked out by a professional practitioner before you begin your Pranayama journey.

How do you practice Pranayama?

Experts advise that the best time to practice Pranayama is early in the morning, especially on an empty stomach. It is ideal to perform it outdoors so that you have plenty of fresh air.

There are three stages to practising Pranayama:

  1. Purak (inhaling)
  2. Kumbhak (restraining your breath)
  3. Rechak (exhaling)

There are a number of different types of Pranayama. Some people debate about how many are authentic, however that number varies from person to person. Here are twelve of the most popular types of Pranayamas.

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