Prāṇāyāma bal­ances, strength­ens, and increases life energy. The result is a peace­ful mind, the foun­da­tion for expanded awareness.

Prana is a San­skrit word derived from two roots; pra rep­re­sents “con­tin­u­ous” and na means “move­ment.” Thus prana flows in con­tin­u­ous move­ment. Svara is the San­skrit word for the flow of prana. Svara is defined by the qual­i­ties of the breath and the pranic flow.

Yogis con­trol the breath in order to have peace of mind.

Citta Santi

The great Indian scholar Swami Vivekananda, who orig­i­nally brought yoga to Amer­ica in 1893, said, “One of the great­est dis­cov­er­ies of the yogis is that prana fol­lows the mind.” This is why the yogic teach­ings say that one of the great­est ways to con­trol the mind, thus attain­ing the state of yoga, is through prāṇāyāma.

The word ‘prāṇāyāma’ has a rich inter­pre­ta­tion. It con­tains the word Prana, which is the essence of all mat­ter and form in the uni­verse — the life force of cre­ation. It also con­tains both the words ‘yama’ or ‘ayama’. Yama means restraint; ayama means expan­sion. Thus, prāṇāyāma includes breath­ing tech­niques to con­trol the breath while expand­ing the life force.

The def­i­n­i­tion of prāṇāyāma should not be lim­ited to breath­ing prac­tices. Breath­ing prac­tices are tech­niques within prāṇāyāma to increase the life-force. To increase prana, one must gain greater aware­ness through the con­trol of thought-waves in the mind. This must be reflected in in one’s lifestyle. Through greater aware­ness of prana, con­scious­ness expands. There­fore, prāṇāyāma is a way of liv­ing in har­mony with the body, mind, and spirit.