Pranayama is derived from 2 Sanskrit words - Prana (life force/breathing) and Ayama (control). Therefore, in its broadest description, Prananyama would mean the control of the flow of life force/Breathing. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word means control over the life, literal meaning control over breath.pranayama is fourth limb of yogi sutras of patangali. To most, control of breath is Pranayama. However, this is a result of wrong interpretation. Prana - that most people are unaware of - is vital energy. It is that energy that manifests itself as the self-energizing force embracing one's body. When this force enfolds the entire body with control, it is called Pranayama.
In sanskrit, the word for breath is the same as the word for life - prana. The first thing you do as you enter this world is to inhale. Your last act in this life is to exhale. When prana leaves the body, we die. The breath is a metaphor for life energy. By exercising control over this breathing you can control the subtle Prana inside. Control of Prana means control of mind. Mind cannot operate without the help of Prana. The vibrations of Prana only produce thoughts in the mind. It is Prana that moves the mind. It is Prana that sets the mind in motion. It is the Sukshma Prana or Psychic Prana that is intimately connected with the mind. All the life force or Prana lies as dormant potential energy called the 'pranashakti' or 'kundalini'. It resides at a center which is found just above the genital area, called the 'mooladhara chakra'. According to yoga, this prana flows from the base 'mooladhara' center up along the right side of the spinal column into the center which lies at the top of the spinal column. This center is called the 'Ajna Chakra'. The prana also gets distributed to the whole body through a different set of nerve channels so that it reaches every atom of the body. During breathing for Pranayama inhalation (puraka) stimulates the system and fills the lungs with fresh air; retention (kumbhaka) raises the internal temperature and plays an important part in increasing the absorption of oxygen; exhalation (rechak) causes the diaphragm to return to the original position and air full of toxins and impurities is forced out by the contraction of inter-costal muscles. These are the main components leading to Pranayama which massage the abdominal muscles and respiratory muscles.
Just as a goldsmith removes the impurities of gold by heating it in the hot furnace, by strongly blowing the blow-pipe, so also the Yogic practioners removes the impurities of the body and the Indriyas by blowing his lungs, i.e., by practising Pranayama
Benefits of pranayama -
1)Pranayama helps to lose fat by increasing metabolic rate.
2) It develops a steady mind, strong willpower and sound judgement.
3)It gives exercise to diaphragm, which helps to regulate normal breathing.
4) It provides more oxygen to lungs, gives time respiratory system to extract more oxygen from alveoli.
5) It helps in increasing the mental and physical powers of endurance.
6) It helps in increasing oxygen supply to the brain which in turn helps controlling the mind.
7) Pranayama reduces stammering.
8) It strengthens the immune system.
Special guidelines -
1) The process of pranayam is concerned with breathing ,the indicator of life.and therefore,if you over do it ,it may do harm to the practioner.
2) Always starts with low intensity (10 rep),observe the response then go further.
3)Read and follow the instruction carefully.
4)Through the practices of Pranayama, a certain amount of heat is generated which influences the existing quantum of energy or Prana. For example, if you produce heat in a vessel, it will heat the existing air. The heat generates an increased energy in an electrical form. This electrical spark alters the chemical structure of the cerebral fluid which surrounds the brain. When this fluid is chemically influenced, it affects the behaviour of the brain. This is why one may experiences a dizziness.so always start with low counts.
5) Begin practicing pranayama in a room-temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit) environment. Extremely cold or hot air can affect your health adversely.
6)If you begin to feel faint, dizzy, flushed, or light-headed, stop what you are doing, and allow your breath to return to its own natural rhythm. This is a result of the increased oxygen levels in the body, which your body may not be accustomed to.
7) Be careful if you have any heart condition, asthma, bronchitis, high or low blood pressure, or any physical condition that requires you to be under medical supervision.