Prāṇāyāma is a Sanskrit word alternatively translated as “extension of the prāṇa (breath or life force)” or “breath control.” The word is composed from two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force (noted particularly as the breath), and ayama (to restrain or control the prana, implying a set of breathing techniques where the breath is intentionally altered in order to produce specific results. It is a yogic discipline with origins in ancient India.
Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.
According to Bhagavad-Gītā , prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyāma.
Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice. Patanjali does not fully elucidate the nature of prana, and the theory and practice of pranayama seem to have undergone significant development after him. He presents pranayama as essentially an exercise that is preliminary to concentration, as do the earlier Buddhist texts.
Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.
He, who has grasped this Prana, has grasped the very core of cosmic life and activity. He, who has conquered and controlled this very essence, has not only subjected his own body and mind but every other body and mind in this universe.
Thus Pranayama or the control of Prana is that means by which the Yogi tries to realise in his little body the whole of cosmic life, and tries to attain perfection by getting all the powers in this universe.