Prana denotes entire natural life force and ‘ayama’ means to control or extend. Prana is the dynamic energy sought after by our physical and delicate layers, in the absence of which the body will perish. This is what keeps us active. Pranayama is the regulating of prana through breath.
Pranayama plainly means to spread the dynamic life force, or prana, is an exceptionally rich exercise consisting of many breathing methods that vary in difficulty from ones easy enough for a child to those fitting only for advanced practitioners.
Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutra, defines pranayama as a path by which you can disrupt your unconscious breathing form and create the breath stretched, easeful, and even. Mostly people’s unconscious breathing forms are anything but suave; they usually have a tendency to to be tense, superficial, and intermittent. Being afraid or hearing bad news, the reaction is a sudden gasp, breathe in and then holding the breath. Such breathing patterns can trigger the sensitive nervous system (quite often talked about as the “fight or flight response”).
Pranayama nurtures a long, even exhale, the primary reason that it is so beneficial is because, when practiced properly, it can support the parasympathetic nervous system and trigger relaxation response. Thereby decreasing all the stress and its side effects physically as well as mentally. As a result, your flexibility while facing challenges or hardship increases, and your mind becomes more attentive and tranquil.
The eight limbs of yoga defined by Patanjali are a route to help you attain a state of Yoga, or dedicated meditation. But this dedicated meditation is not the ultimate goal. The sutras tell us; the outcome of realising this state of devotion is that you experience richer observation and a grander connection with your true Self. When you are connected with your inner Self, it is easier to perceive what is not your true Self, for instance, your mind, physical self, opinions, state of mind, career, and in essence all of the altering situations around you. This judgement permits you to act from the Self, and when you do that, you feel less pain.
Pranayama is an essential device to help you attain a more focused meditation, showing you the path to clearer perception, a better link with the Self, and eventually a contented life. In Yoga Sutra 2.52, Patanjali says, Because of pranayama the sheet that blocks the light from within is reduced. So, in effect pranayama gets rid of all the unwanted noise and clutter, the anxiety, commotions, and self-loathing, that keeps you from connecting with your inner light. This is how pranayama can alter your life.
Practicing the pranayama is safest as well as effective when directed by a skilled teacher who knows your requirements and abilities. There are quite a few simple techniques you can try at home, provided you don’t push yourself and do keep your health in mind.
There are three breathing practices, the calm, diaphragmatic breathing, the Sitkari Pranayama; and the mild extended exhale. Each tranquilizes the mind, and aids in bringing about a state intensive devotion. Practicing these techniques overtime will restore the calm within you and slowly you’ll notice your breathing becoming much more controlled. These breathing patterns also get linked with your moods. This self-consciousness is the major step toward utilizing pranayama to help change your patterns and create a positive change in your life.