Prana is the energy that we find in all the beings and things of the universe, in some books it is explained that prana is the vital energy that we possess and that is found in the universe. Prana refers to physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy. Prana is the energy that creates, protects and destroys everything that exists in the universe without exceptions.
Basically the practice of pranayama is based on working with the breath. It is through breathing that we increase the pranic level and the amount of pranic that exists in our body. The practices are based on taking the breath over its limits. We try to lengthen Inhalation and exhalation, expand and compress the organs and body parts that influence the respiratory process and at the same time we try to vary the frequency and intensity of inhalation and exhalation
The word pranayama can be understood etymologically in two ways: 1. Prana + ayama and 2. Prana + yama.
Ayama: means the expansion of prana, the extension of vital energy in all its areas.
Yama: Yama means controlling the breath, maintaining the vital energy that exists within the body so that vital energy does not escape.
First we will analyze the word prana. Prana is divided by Prana. Prana is an energy that is in continuous movement. Without Prana none of the elements of which we humans are formed; Water, fire, air, earth, space, speech and mind could exist in any kind of form. When prana disappears, everything that we are formed disappears, if prana reappears, we will reappear.
When talking about Pranayama we have to talk about philosophy, physiology and practice. For a good practice of pranayama we can not only stay in the practical part, because without a theoretical baggage and knowledge of physiology (in my opinion less important) it is very difficult that we can advance in the practice of pranayama. Without a philosophical baggage it is also very difficult to advance on the road.
Within the practice of pranayama we have to differentiate between Inhalation (pooraka), exhalation (rechaka) and Kumbhaka (which is retention). We can carry out a retention in Pooraka and a retention in reechaka. Some ancient texts say that we can only be doing pranayama during retention (I personally do not think in this way).
In the initial stages of pranayama we must first cleanse the nadis from the excrements we have inside and from the samskaras that have been accumulating in our system throughout life and past lives. The scriptures mention that our body is made up of 72,000 nadis. A Hatha Yogi could breathe for each and every one of these nadis. This tells us and makes us have an idea that we are at a very early stage in our practice-spiritual development.
The practice of pranayama is simply a part of the practice of Raja yoga that goes from yama, niyama, asana, shatkarmas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, samadhi. Therefore we can say that pranayama is the step that is taken to reach pratyahara, where the organs of perception, the senses are internalized and we are no longer awaiting the world outside of us, but we acquire the ability to be within us , to evolve in self-knowledge.
What aspects influence prana beyond the practice of pranayama
The quality of the food we eat
The quality of the air we breathe
Work with prana Through the practices of pranayama.