What is Pranayama?
The practice of breath control is called pranayama: prana means breath or cosmic force, and ayama means to extend or to draw out. Pranayama is the practice of breath control.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, pranayama is the fourth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga:
“That asana being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama.”
There are three types of pranayama:
- Inhalation control (bahya vritti) – Controlling the amount of time or force of the inhalation.
- Exhalation control (abhyantara vritti) – Controlling the amount of time or force of the exhalation.
- Breath retention (stambha vritti) –Controlling the amount of time the breath is held in or out.
Pranayama is practiced while seated in lotus, half lotus, or cross-legged. If it is difficult to sit cross-legged, try placing a pillow under your sitting bones while on the floor, sitting in a chair or even lying down.