Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – Pranayama

The fourth step is Pranayama.

The word is composed from two Sanskrit words:

  • Prana: meaning life force (noted particularly as the breath), and
  • either ayama: to restrain or control the prana (implying a set of breathing techniques where the breath is intentionally altered in order to produce specific results)
  • or ayāma: meaning to extend or draw out (as in extension of the life force)

Generally translated as breath control, Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath.

The basic movements of Pranayama are:

  • inhalation
  • retention of breath
  • exhalation

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Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – yama and niyama

The Yoga Sutra, widely regarded as the authoritative text on yoga, is a collection of aphorisms, outlining the eight limbs (or steps) of yoga.Patanjali statue

These “threads” (as sutra translates from Sanskrit) of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.

There are 196 of them and they were written by the ancient sage Patanjali, possibly at least 1,700 years ago. Patanjali reflected on the nature of woman and man and the norms of his society at the time and he systematically expressed his observations in the sutras which deal with the entire span of life.

They begin with a code of conduct and end with the ultimate goal: emancipation and freedom. Continue reading “Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – yama and niyama”