Pranayama is a breath control yoga technique that is concerned with the respiratory system of the body. Pranayamas are controlled, measured breathing exercises that promote proper breathing in order to restore and maintain health and vitality. There are four types of Pranayama (Arambha, Ghata, Parichay and Nispatti) which include breathing techniques such as quiet breathing, deep breath and alternate nostril breathing. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi).
Proper breathing, especially during physical yoga practice, cultivates and controls the energy within us known as ‘prana’ or the vital force. The breath, life and energy are intrinsically and harmoniously connected to maintain prana; vitality is increased, consciousness expands and our mental state becomes focused. Focused breath acts as a bridge to aid the nervous system, calm the mind and improve our circulation with fresh oxygenated blood. By slowing down the breath we can enter a new level of consciousness. Our mood and psychological state can be altered by change in the breath.
The benefits of proper breathing are the reduction of toxins, the maintenance of the digestive system, improved metabolism, improved concentration, reduced stress and better self control within a more relaxed body and mind. Pranayama calms the spirit.