Linking the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Pranayama

The fourth limb of Pantanjali’s eight limbs is Pranayama. Pranayama is the enhancement and guidance of universal energy, or guiding and controlling the breath in order to activate pranic energy.

Combining pranayama with asana focuses this life force and refines it, encouraging the body and mind into an easeful state.

Pranayama is occasionally incorporated into modern yoga classes, but it’s often very brief, if at all. The following articles break down different facets of pranayama and explain how to incorporate it into your yoga practice or everyday life.

  • PRANA. Prana is the universal life force that exists in all of us. We tap into this force through the breath. In this article, Dr. Lange expounds on the power and magic of the breath.

Is Breathing Deep Really Good for Your Health? (Huffington Post)

  • CHITTA. Chitta is the Sanskrit word for mind. Our mental states affect our breathing patterns. Practicing pranayama will slow and even out our breath, relieving physical and emotional stress and preparing the body and mind for meditation.

Breathing Through the Darkness (Elephant Journal)

  • PINGALA NADI. Pingala nadi is one of three energetic channels that control the flow of prana. Pingala is responsible for solar energy in the body. Practicing intense pranayama can develop this solar energy and tapas (covered in Week 2).

3 Powerful Pranayama Exercises (MindBodyGreen)

  • IDA NADI. Ida Nadi is also part of the three channels controlling the flow of prana. Ida, however, is known as the moon. Practicing calming pranayama will encourage this lunar energy to flow.

The Peaceful Power of Breath (Care2)

  • ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING. Alternate nostril breathing helps to balance Ida and Pingala. This article explains how to do alternate nostril breathing and how it impacts and benefits the body.

Breath for Weight Control & Depression Management (Yahoo Shine

We’ve reached Week 4 on our exploration through Pantanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga! If you want to catch up on the last three weeks, you can find them here:

Week 1: Yama
Week 2: Niyama
Week 3: Asana