Pranayama is the art of breathing according to yoga principles and techniques.
Prana is the breath of life of all beings in the universe and pranayama means the extension and expansion of all our vital energies.
When the breath is irregular the mind wavers; when steady so too is the mind.
It is seen as the beginning of the more inward journey on the path of yoga.
Pranayama cannot be done with strength or force it is a more refined and subtle form of self awareness exploration than asanas and a more personal one.
According to most classical texts (including Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) pranayama comes as a later stage in the 8 steps (limbs) of yoga…. Ethical life principles, self restraint, self study and the mastering of the asanas then Pranayama.
“Breath is the key to ultimate emancipation”.
– BKS Iyengar