Pranayama is made up of two words: prana, which is “life force” or “energy,” andyama, which is “discipline.” Pranayama is the discipline of breathing, a vast science of breath control. The objective of pranayama is to increase physical and mental health. In advanced pranayama practices, there are various ways to achieve this.
Entire blogs have been written on pranayama. In yoga, prana is the powerful life force and it exists in everything, both positive and negative. Prana is much more than breathing in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide; it is the backbone of a good yoga practice.
Western science cannot verify the existence of this subtle energy force. Nevertheless, this energy is very much a part of Eastern medicine. For example, acupuncture balances the flow of the body’s energy, known as chi, through a system of meridians.
In yoga, this subtle energy is prana. In addition to the physical body, yogis believe that the individual has an astral body or an emotional body. Prana is the life energy that is the link between the physical and the astral bodies. Just as hatha yoga strives to balance and complement the physical body with an inner awareness of energy through asana, pranayama also works to balance energies in the body.