Pranayama – fourth yogic limb

After consuming yourself with the yamas and niyamas and asana, the next limb

is pranayama.  It translates as prana = life force and ayama = extension or expansion.

Pranayama is the controlled breathing practices undertaken in yoga. Prana (life force/vital energy) is controlled, fuelled and enriched through the breath. These practices help activate and cultivate prana throughout the physical body and other pranamaya kosha.

There are four aspects of prana – inhalation, exhalation, inhalation retention and exhalation retention. According to the sutras, kumbhaka (retention) is the focus and the aspiration of controlling our breath. Continue reading