Different Yoga experts have defined Pranayama in different ways having a broad range of meanings. It also stands for cosmic power, or power of the whole entire universe that reveals itself as a conscious living entity in us through the miracle of breathing.
As defined in the Yoga Sutras, by Vivekanand Needam, Pranayama is “regulation of incoming and outgoing breath coupled with retention.
In Sanskrit, the word Pranayama is a combination of two parts having different meanings, viz. Prana and Ayama.
While Ayama means control; means the act which is done in Pranayama. Prana – as most of us know – is vital energy. It is that energy that is represented naturally as the self-energizing force driving our body in daily course of life. When our body is dominated and controlled by this vital force, it is called Pranayama.
Pranayama does not emphasize on to bring the inhalation and exhalation into synchronization with each other. Nor the aim is to make our body habitual of a particular length of breath. The different pranayama practices pose variety of opportunities for following the breath, as well. When you focus on breath, your mind is concentrated only on the breathing activities. Pranayama prepares us, in this manner for the stillness of meditation to come.
Yoga Breathing or Pranayama – A Broad Overview
Pranayama, the breathe control technique in yoga is an indispensable part of the Yoga science. It is an essential step of most of the asanas or poses. As described in the Vivekanand Needam Yoga Sutras, asana and pranayama play a vital role to help us control ourselves mentally and physically, attaining purification of body, soul and mind.
While practicing yoga one can feel heat sensations internally, which is nothing but the inner fire of purification. As per yoga experts this heat is the byproduct of the purification process of the Nadis. These are subtle nerve channels in the subtle body. The result is healthy mind and body to it’s high.
Pranayama emphasizes to concentrate on your breath. Hence, make sure that while practicing Pranayama the mind is alert and focused. This is because the processes being observed are extremely subtle. Unlike asanas, body movements are almost nil in Pranayama. In the beginning of Pranayama the inhalations and exhalations are felt within your respiratory tract, and later, the sensations of breath movements are felt throughout your body. The only animated process will be breathing. Vivekanand Needam, in his Yoga sutras, has given tips and practical suggestions so that one can concentrate on breath movements.
To begin with Pranayama, you must start paying attention on a part of your body, where you feel or hear your breath. Alternatively, you could try following the movement of breath in your body. Try to sense the inhale extend from the center of your collarbone, down through your rib cage to your diaphragm. Then follow your exhalation upwards from your abdomen.
One more trick to concentrate on your breath is by feeling where it enters and leaves your body around the region of your nostrils. If you want to hear your breath, then try to make a noise by gently tightening your vocal chords. This is a Pranayama technique called Ujjayi.