Yoga Defined: Pranayama


(Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the prana or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force”. The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, “Prana” – life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and “ayāma” – to extend or draw out. (Not ‘restrain, or control’ as is often incorrectly translated from ‘yama’ instead of ‘ayama’).

Pranayama is a Sanskrit compound.

  • Breath, Respiration
  • The breath of life, vital air, principle of life (usually plural in this sense, there being five such vital airs generally assumed, but three, six, seven, nine, and even ten are also spoken of)[2]
  • Energy, vigor
  • The spirit or soul


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