Pranayama, the breathing techniques, is an important part of yoga practice because breathing is so necessary for living. We cannot live longer than a few minutes without breathing and we can help the body a lot by breathing right.
Most people have the habit of breathing only superficially. Pranayama shows you and teaches your body how to breathe properly which helps you to take in more oxygen than you usually do. Even after a little bit of breathing practice you realize that you feel more energetic. Some breathing techniques give you activating, stimulating energy while others calm you down and make you feel relaxed and peaceful.
In Yoga this energy, the life force that you breathe in and which refreshes you with every deep breath is called Prana. And this is how 'Prana-yama' is the technique of regulating this flow of energy inside our body. There are five different forms of Prana in our body responsible for regulating different body functions: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana.
There are three different basic forms of Pranayama exercises: Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka. Puraka is inhalation, Kumbhaka is holding the breath and rechaka is exhalation. Of these three the main exercises are formed which have themselves different effects, for example cooling or heating.
Below you will find breathing exercises that you can do at home to feel the beneficial effects of Pranayama on your whole body.