PrÄá¹‡ÄyÄma is the practice of breath control in yoga. In modern yoga
as exercise, it consists of synchronising the breath with movements between asanas, but is also a distinct breathing exercise on its own, usually practised after asanas. In texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali, and later in Hatha yoga
texts, it meant the complete cessation of breathing. PrÄá¹‡ÄyÄma (Devanagari: à¤ªà¥à¤°à¤¾à¤£à¤¾à¤¯à¤¾à¤® prÄá¹‡ÄyÄma) is a Sanskrit compound. It is defined variously by different authors.
Macdonell gives the etymology as prana (prÄá¹‡a), breath, + ÄyÄma and defines it as the suspension of breath.
Monier-Williams defined Pranayama
in terms of the elements of Kumbhaka.
Monier-Williams defines the compound prÄá¹‡ÄyÄma as "of the three 'breath-exercises' performed during Saá¹ƒdhyÄ (See pÅ«rak, rechak (English: retch or throw out), kumbhak".This technical definition refers to a particular system of breath control with three processes as explained by Bhattacharyya: pÅ«rak (to take the breath inside), kumbhak (to retain it), and rechak (to discharge it). There are other processes of prÄá¹‡ÄyÄma besides this three-step model.
V. S. Apte's definition of ÄyÄmaá¸¥ derives it from Ä + yÄm and provides several variant meanings for it when used in compounds. The first three meanings have to do with "length", "expansion, extension", and "stretching, extending", but in the specific case of use in the compound prÄá¹‡ÄyÄma he defines ÄyÄmaá¸¥ as meaning "restrain, control, stopping".
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