“Prana” means the subtle vital force/energy because of which we all exist, also called the life force. “Ayama” means to direct, to control or to give a dimension to. So Pranayama means to direct or control the subtle vital force in us. But why?
It is said our emotions and feelings are nothing but a play of Prana in us. Whenever we feel low, it is because of low Prana or due to some blockages of the flow of Prana in us. These blockages further if left untreated for sometime manifests into a somatic or psychosomatic diseases.
Pranayama uses the breath in order to control this life force, for it cannot be directly tapped. Thus they are usually called as breathing exercises.
Some common pranayama are Nadi Shodhana, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, etc. All these pranayama caters to different needs. Pranayamas are categorised into various ways. One of the ways they are categorised are as: Balancing Pranayama(which balances the system, and also right and left hemispheres of the brain), Tranquillising Pranayama(soothes the mind and body, also includes cooling pranayama which cools down the body) , and Vitalising Pranayama(energises the body, also includes heating pranayama which heats up the body).