The stages or eight limbs of Yoga – Pranayama

The word “Pranayama” is derived from the combination of the two words “Prana”  and ” Ayama“. “Prana” means life, vitality, breath, respiration or strength . “Ayama” means control, length, restraint or expansion.

“Pranayama” hence implies expansion and control of breath. It has three components :

  • Inhalation (Puraka)
  • Exhalation (Rechaka)
  • Kumbhaka  The state of retention/ holding of breath. There are two types of Kumbhaka:
    • Antara Kumbhaka Here the suspension or holding of breath is after full inhalation and before exhalation.
    • Bahya Kumbhaka  In this state breath is suspended after full exhalation and before inhalation.

Pranayama should be done cautiously according to one’s capacity and  limitations.

It needs constant practice to master slow, deep, rhythmic inhalations and exhalations. Before attempting Kumbhaka one should have reasonable command over inhalations and exhalations. It renders the subject fit for concentration.

Improper practice of Pranayama may lead to several disorders.