- Pranayama (lit. breath control) is one of the elements in the eightfold path of YOGA found in PATANJALI’s YOGA SUTRA and other sources. Watching the breath is an element of virtually every yoga that emerged in India, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain. The practice of PRANAYAMA is one of not only focusing on the breath but learning to control it in its three phases of inhalation (puraka), exhalation (recaka), and suspension of breath between the two (kumbhaka). Each must be controlled so that the three fill equal durations of time. One must gradually develop the ability to prolong all three.Further reading: Swami Narayananda, The Secrets of Prana, Pranayama and Yoga-Asanas, 5th rev. ed. (Gyl-ling, Denmark: Narayanananda Universal Yoga Trust & Ashrama, 1979); Swami Naranjananda Saraswati, Prana, Pranayama, Prana Vidya (Munger: Bihar School of Yoga, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.