INTRODUCTION TO PRANAYAMA
Pranayama is the Yogic Science of breath control. The word Pranayama is compound word made of two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force (breath), and either yama (to restrain or control the prana) or the negative form ayāma, meaning to extend or draw out (as in extension or expansion of the life force). Prana can not be translated just as breath. Prana is “life giving breath”. Prana is the life force within and around us.
"Prana" is an immense amount of life giving source of energy and we can use the techniques of Pranayama to tap into that vast source. Through Hatha Yoga, the goal is to awaken the subtle energy channels so that the body and the mind can enjoy a state of equilibrium and deep sense of peace. Pranayama can help us in tapping into that energy body and open the subtle energy channels.
Time and Duration for Pranayama
It is always best to practice pranayama every day at the same time and same place (as much as possible). Although traditionally it has been recommended to practice pranayama four times a day and up to 80 cycles each time, this may seem a daunting task. We can start with practicing twice a day preferably during sunset and sunrise, about 10 to 15 minutes each time.
Things to keep in mind while practicing pranayama
It is important to measure what is an individual's capacity, and not strain yourself. Establish a practice of observing the duration of inhalations and exhalations. The goal is to increase you capacity over a long period of time slowly, by regular practice.