The term Pranayama has been constituted by two words: Prana + Ayama. Prana is vital energy and Ayama means to control or to give a definite flow to the Pranic energy.
The natural condition of inflow and outflow of the breath goes on continuously and it is on this process that human life depends. In Pranayama, there is a systematic regulation of both the inhalation and exhalation. The state when inhalation (Puraka) and exhalation (Rechaka) are made to halt is given the name “Kumbhaka”. The halt after Puraka is called “Abhyantara Kumbhaka” and after Rechaka is called “Bahya Kumbhaka“. The result of this controlled inhalation and exhalation, both in respect of speed and time has a mere beneficial effect on the mind and the body than that of the natural process. The natural inhalation is called “Swashana” or breathing and inhalation and exhalation which is done extending time limit by applying the power of mind is called “Deerghaswashana” or Pranayama.
Considering the physiology of Pranayam, it can be classified as hyperventilation and hypoventilation. Mainly Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayam are considered as Hyperventilation type of Pranayam, this type of Pranayam revitalizes body. Bhramari, Shitali, Sitkari, Ujjayi etc. are considered as Hypoventilation type of Pranayam.
Instructions for Pranayam
Pranayama should be done in morning hours preferably before the dawn.
Duration of Pranayama should be increased gradually and gradually.
One should not sit for Pranayama after meals. At least a gap of 3-4 hours is essential.
Pranayama should be practiced after Asans and before Meditation.
Place for pranayama should be clean, peaceful and airy.