What is the Meaning of Pranayama: Pranayama Breathing Techniques & Tips


If you want to know more about pranayama and which are the most important pranayama breathing techniques this is the article you have to read! First things first, Pranayama is the conscious awareness of the breath: the life force that energizes and relaxes the body. The term derives from the Sanskrit, prana, which means "life force", and ayama, which means "extension".

Pranayama is an integral part of yoga. Controlled breathing allows both the rhythm of execution of yoga poses and relaxation of the mind for meditation.

Meaning of Pranayama

Pranayama is the fourth aspect, or "limb", of the spiritual practice of Ashtanga yoga.

The great sage, Patanjali, outlined these arts as follows:

    Yama (ethical life)
    Niyama (healthy life)
    Asana (the meditative sitting posture, or the more physical poses of yoga)
    Pranayama (awareness of one's breath)
    Pratyahara (withdrawing the mind from the senses)
    Dharana (deep concentration)
    Dhyana (deep meditation)
    Samadhi (enlightenment)

Pranayama consists of four recognizable phases:

    Puraka (inhalation)
    Abhyantara kumbhaka (the conscious pause after inhalation)
    Rechaka (exhalation)
    Bahya Kumbhaka (the conscious pause after exhalation)

Each phase of pranayama has the effect of increasing physical awareness and strengthening introspection; therefore, as a whole, pranayama is an integral part of yoga practice and a key element in the ultimate quest for enlightenment.

Pranayama is mentioned within the Patanjali Eightfold Path and, if we want to see this path as a path, we will be able to understand how asanas are preparatory to breathing techniques.

It is in fact required to sit for several minutes while working on the breath.

In reality, especially if the physical conditions do not allow it, you can practice any Pranayama technique even comfortably seated on a chair with your feet firmly on the ground.

When to practice pranayama breathing techniques

Breathing techniques are always practiced on an empty stomach, the most recommended times are at sunrise and sunset or several hours away from meals.

The most energizing breathing techniques should not be practiced in the evening.

General benefits of pranayama breathing techniques


The benefits are many and among others, for the more relaxing techniques, we find an activation of the parasympathetic system that allows us to feel calmer and more peaceful.

Activating this system allows us to improve our digestive abilities and fight insomnia.

In general, you can easily experience the power of breathing by inhaling deeply and exhaling for a few moments longer than the time of inspiration.

Pranayama breathing techniques might be considered as a purely mechanical operation, create a definite effect in the body, mind and spirit. When these techniques are applied with sensitivity and awareness and with a deeper understanding of the relationship between these three human dimensions, their effect can be enormously amplified.

In daily life, most of the things we do are mechanical and automatic. We eat without awareness, work, experience anger, joy, jealousy, etc. all without the awareness of what we do, feel, experience.

Pranayama breathing techniques are methods for increasing the sensitivity in breathing, not only on the physical level, but also in the subtlest levels of existence. They tend to awaken an awareness of the aspects of breath, prana, body and mind that are normally beyond our earthly awareness.


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