Pranayama is comprised of two root words: prana and ayama. Prana means ‘vital energy’ or ‘life force’ and ayama means ‘extension’ or ‘expansion’. So the word pranayama means ‘extension or expansion of the dimension of prana’. The practices of pranayama provide the method whereby the life force can be activated and regulated in order to go beyond one’s normal boundaries or limitations and attain higher state of vibratory energy.

There are four major aspects of pranayama. They are:

    1. Pooraka or inhalation
    2. Rechaka or exhalation
    3. Antar kumbhaka or internal breath retention
    4. Bahir kumbhaka or external breath retention.

All the pranayama practices are categorized under four groups. They are:

  1. Sensitizing
  2. Balancing
  3. Tranquilizing and
  4. Vitalizing.

There are various practices under the above mentioned groups.