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In yogic terms prana means the vital energy and ayam means exercise. Pranayam defines the regulation of the in and out flow of this vital energy. It explains that the body, breath and the mind are intricately interwoven. When the air moves the mind moves and when the air is stilled the mind also could be stilled. Hence the various techniques employed in Pranayam are to stabilize the flow of air thus to achieve the balanced state of mind.

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All breathing exercises are done in empty stomach usually after a warming up of the body by stretching exercises, sun salutation or yoga poses. One has to sit in any comfortable meditative posture and place the back and neck erect. Little deep breathing is carried out to relax the muscles after any of these practices. The inhalation and exhalations are to be performed through the nostrils.



Abdominal / Diaphragmatic breathing

Here only the abdomen is focused upon during breathing. Inhale and expand the abdomen, exhale and suck the abdomen in. This exercise is repeated for 9 rounds. To feel the expansion of abdomen, hands can be placed over the stomach

Thoracic / Intercostal breathing

Here the attention is given to the chest. Inhale and expand the chest, exhale and retract the chest. Repeat for 9 rounds.

Clavicular or Shoulder breathing

This is to aerate the upper lobe of the lungs. Inhale and raise the shoulders, exhale and drop it down. Arms stretched sideways, inhale and raise the arms above the head to join the palms; exhale and release the arms till the shoulder level.