Pranayama, Prāṇāyāma, Prāṇayama, Prana-yama: 32 definitions


Pranayama means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi, Hindi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

Alternative spellings of this word include Pranayam.

In Hinduism

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Shaivism glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Śaivism

Prāṇāyama (प्राणायम) is capable of controlling mind. The mind controls the sensory organs of the human body (senā).

Source: The Śaiva Yogas and Their Relation to Other Systems of Yoga

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम, “breath control”) refers to one of the six members (aṅga) of the Ṣaḍaṅgayoga, as taught in the early Śaiva Siddhānta.—Ṣaḍaṅgayoga is taught as the standard yoga of the Śaivasiddhānta (Siddhānta) a mainstream, Veda congruent dualist tradition. See, for example, the 6th century texts of Raurava-āgama, Kiraṇa-āgma, Sarvajñānottara-āgama, Svāyambhuvasūtrasaṃgraha, the 7th century Mālinīvijayottara and the 9th century Tantrasadbhāva.

Source: Brill: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “breath exercises”, according to Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī’s Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī (on the Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā verse 4.16).—Accordingly, “This new, easy [path]—(easy) because it lacks in the (need for) skill in the external and internal exertions (usually required) for the (removal of one’s) afflictions, [practices] such as appropriate conduct [caryā] and breath exercises [prāṇāyāma]—which is included in all the secret śāstras, (and) is not well known since it has been concealed from public view, was first explained in the śāstra (entitled) the Śivadṛṣṭi by the venerable Somānanda, our great grand guru”.

Shaivism book cover
context information

Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Shaivism from relevant books on Exotic India

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Purana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Purāṇas

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to the “withholding of the breath” by way of religious austerity. It is used throughout vedic and purāṇic literature.

Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—Prāṇa means the wind in the body and āyāma means restraint. Prāṇāyāma means restraining or suspending breath. Spread on the floor a piece of cloth, or animal-skin or Kuśa grass and sitting on it cross-legged, controlling all actions of the sense-organs and concentrating on one single object do prāṇāyāma for the purification of the soul. There are three different kinds of prāṇāyāmas namely Recakaprāṇāyāma, Pūrakaprāṇāyāma and Kumbhakaprāṇāyāma.

Holding the nostrils with the left hand and massaging the belly with the other hand one sends out the air within the belly. It is called Recakaprāṇāyāma. Doing just the reverse and getting air inside is called Pūrakaprāṇāyāma. Then the yogī sits, with his belly full of air. Sitting thus without either letting the air out or letting it in is called Kumbhakaprāṇāyāma. Here the yogī sits like a pūrṇa-kumbha (full jar). The body of man is a chariot, the sense organs its horses, mind the charioteer and prāṇāyāma the whip. (Chapter 373, Agni Purāṇa).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—A sādhana for yoga.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 22. 45; V. 10. 15; VI. 7. 40.

1b) Three-fold: its utility; a mode of penance.1 one of the constituents of Maheśvara yoga; ety., the control of prāṇa or wind; three ways are distinguished; mandha, madhya and uttama; the pramāṇa of Prāṇāyāma is 12 mātras; manda is of 12 mātras as also udghātā; madhyama is twice udghātā or 24 mātras; uttama is three udghātās or 36 mātras; uttama produces sveda, kampa and viṣāda; prāṇa is like the cruel wild animal which if tamed becomes soft; if approached direct by yoga, prāṇa becomes disciplined in course of time; having controlled the vāyu one can live as he pleases; there is no sin in his body; prāṇāyāma is equal to all penances and fruits of yajña; all doṣas become burnt as it were by this practice.2 fruits of; śānti, praśānti, dīpti, and prasāda;3 practice of:—draw in au, pray to sun and moon, and sit in svastika or padma posture; halfshut eyes; look at the tip of the nose a little raising the head, neck and the body; hence tamas and rajas look on satva; attaining this yoga, pratyāhāra to be begun, mātra—nimiṣonmeṣa—12 mātras.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 8. 44; 23. 8; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 22. 74; Matsya-purāṇa 227. 37.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 10. 78-92.
  • 3) Ib. 11. 4; 18. 17-19.
  • 4) Ib. 11. 12-29; 22. 19; 110. 13.
Source: Shodhganga: The saurapurana - a critical study

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to one of the various limbs of Yoga, according to the 10th century Saurapurāṇa: one of the various Upapurāṇas depicting Śaivism.—Accordingly, the eleventh chapter contains the dialogue of Śiva and Skanda; the glories of the devotees of Śiva and the devotion to Śiva. The systems of Yoga along with its limbs Yama, Niyama, Ahiṃsā, Brahmacarya, Aparigraha, Svādhāya, Saṃtoṣa, Śauca, Prāṇāyāma and Samādhi are described while various kinds of impediments to the practice of Yoga and the means of overcoming them are explained in the thirteenth chapter.

Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Purana from relevant books on Exotic India

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Source: Google Books: Manusmṛti with the Manubhāṣya

These breath-suspensions (prāṇāyāma) are of three kinds, named ‘Kumbhaka’ (total suspension), ‘Pūraka’ (inhaling) and ‘Recaka’ (exhaling). The total suppression of air passing out of the mouth and the nostrils constitutes the (inhalation and suspension); and when the man does not inhale breath but continuously keeps on exhaling, it is called ‘Recaka exhalation.’ (See the Manubhāṣya verse 6.70)

Dharmashastra book cover
context information

Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Dharmashastra from relevant books on Exotic India

Yoga (school of philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Yoga glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Yoga

Prāṇāyāma according to the Haṭha Yoga-pradīpikā (chapter IV): “when the brahma-granthi (in the heart) is pierced through by prāṇāyāma, then a sort of happiness is experienced in the vacuum of the heart, and the anāhat sounds, like various tinkling sounds of ornaments, are heard in the body”. And further, “in the ārambha, a Yogī’s body becomes divine, glowing, healthy, and emits a divine swell. The whole of his heart becomes void”.

Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation by Jason Birch

1) Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “breath control”, according to the section on Pāśupatayoga in the Skandapurāṇa-Ambikākhaṇḍa verse 178.7-8.—Accordingly, “Then, having formed the [hand gesture called] Yogahasta in which the right [hand is placed] on the left, [the Yogin] should have his face slightly tilted down while looking at the tip of his nose, without touching the teeth [of his upper jaw] with those [of the lower], and bringing to mind Brahma [in the form of] the syllable om, the wise [Yogin], who is free from his ego, meditates [thus] after [having performed] breath control (prāṇāyāma)”.

2) Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “stopping (the breath)”, according to the Pātañjalayogaśāstra (i.e., the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali) 1.34.—Accordingly, while discussing Prāṇāyāma and Samādhi: “Or [stability of mind is attained] through exhalation and retention of the breath”.—[Commentary]—“Exhalation is the emission of the abdominal breath through the nostrils with particular care, and retention is stopping (prāṇāyāma) the breath. Through both [of these], one should accomplish stability of mind”.

Yoga book cover
context information

Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Yoga from relevant books on Exotic India

Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम, “breath control”) used in yoga practice, especially aṣṭāṅga-yoga (one of the eight parts of the aṣṭanga-yoga system).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “yogic breathing”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

Vaishnavism book cover
context information

Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Vaishnavism from relevant books on Exotic India

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Shaktism glossary
Source: The Śāradātilakatantra on Yoga

Prāṇāyāma (प्रान्̣आयाम) refers to “control of breath” and is explained by Lakṣmaṇadeśika in his 11th-century Śaradātilaka.—Prāṇāyāma consists basically of inhaling through the left nostril for a duration of sixteen morae, retaining the breath for sixty-four morae and exhaling through the right nostril for thirty-two  morae (16cd–18). This practice is gradually lengthened and also done in reverse order (19). Prāṇāyāma accompanied by mantra repetition, etc., is defined as the “filled” (sagarbha) prāṇāyāma, while the form involving breathing only is said to be the “empty” (agarbha, vigarbha) prāṇāyāma (20–21ab). The first stage of practice is characterized by sweating, the second by trembling and the third by leaving the ground/levitation (21cd–22). Prāṇāyāmashould be practised until the third stage is achieved.

Source: Brill: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions (shaktism)

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “restraining the breaths”, and formed a part of the Navarātra Tantric ritual (an autumnal festival of the warrior goddess Caṇḍikā).—On Mahāṣṭamī is the worship of the Nine Durgās, [...] restraining the breaths (prāṇāyāma); visualization and self-identification with the deity, rite of the sword in Nepal for powers; animal sacrifice and offering blood from a king’s arms and offering a human head; worship of weapons; Goddess is believed to morph into a more uncontrollable presence requiring constant placation.—Various 8th century sources refer to rituals such as prāṇāyāma, for example: Devīpurāṇa, Kālikāpurāṇa, Kṛtyakalpataru, Durgābhaktitaraṅgiṇī, Durgāpūjātattva, Durgāpūjāviveka, Bhadrakālīmantravidhiprakaraṇa in Sanderson (2007); account of the Durgā Pūjā in Kelomal, West Bengal (Nicholas 2013).

Shaktism book cover
context information

Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Shaktism from relevant books on Exotic India

Ganapatya (worship of Ganesha)

Source: Google Books: Ganapati: Song of the Self

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to the “breath control”, representing one of the possible preliminary rites (upacāra) of a pūjā (deity worship).—Each act in a pūjā is not only physical and/or mental, but also symbolic, cosmic, and spiritual. Sprinkling, sipping, and bathing are symbolic of purification, of the worshipped as well as of the worshipper and the surroundings. Various offerings [viz., prāṇāyāma] symbolize the surrendering of one’s latent tendencies (vāsanā) as expressed in thoughts, words, and deeds.

context information

Ganapatya (गाणपत्य, gāṇapatya) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Ganesha is revered and worshipped as the prime deity (ishta-devata). Being a minor though influential movement, Ganapatya evovled, llike Shaktism and Shaivism, as a separate movement leaving behind a large body of literature.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Ganapatya from relevant books on Exotic India

General definition (in Hinduism)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Hinduism glossary
Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) is a Sanskrit word meaning "extension of the prāṇa or breath" or, "extension of the life force". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prana, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "ayāma", to extend or draw out. (Not 'restrain, or control' as is often translated from 'yam' instead of 'ayāma'). The origins of this yogic discipline lies in ancient Bharat (India) and what is known as present day Hinduism.

Source: Yoga Magazine: 1981

Pranayama is an important form of tapasya. When you practise pranayama, yogic heat is created. This heat or fire of yoga helps in the awakening of kundalini. When the mind is possessed by the powerful force of kundalini, it becomes totally stable. This is sattvic tapas, a process whereby you generate physical heat in your body. This heat is vitally important for meditation, but if you practise pranayama without preparation, it will not fulfil this purpose.

Source: ACHC: Smarta Puja

Prāṇāyama (प्राणायम) refers to the “breath control” representing one of the various preparatory rites performed before pūjā (ritualistic worship of a deity) which aim at the purification of the devotee.—Controlling the breath while repeating mantras mentally is prescribed for the devotee’s inner purification.

Prāṇāyama consists of three stages:

  1. inhaling (pūraka)
  2. holding the breath (kumbhaka)
  3. exhaling (recaka).

The mantras prescribed here are:—1. the syllable oṃ (praṇava), which is to be connected with each of the utterances (vyāhṛti) of the names of the seven worlds, 2. the Gāyatrī (mantra) (i.e. the Sāvitrī) 3. the Gāyatrīsiras (mantra). To these mantras the names of their seers, deities, meters and their employment (viniyoga) are prefixed, the knowledge of which is considered indispensable according to the Vedic tradition (following the commentator Sayaṇa). [...] There are several traditions of connecting the above mentioned mantras with the three stages of prāṇayama.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: The Indian Buddhist Iconography

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “breath control” and represents one of six limbs of Yoga to be employed in Uttamasevā (excellent worship), according to the Guhyasamāja chapter 18.—[...] Prāṇāyāma (breath control) is the control of the breathing processby which breath which is of the nature of the five Bhūtas (elements) and the five kinds of knowledge, and is like a bright gem, is drawn from inside and placed as a lamp at the tip of the nose and is meditated upon.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Tibetan Buddhism from relevant books on Exotic India

General definition (in Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Buddhism glossary
Source: Dharma Inc: Adi-Yoga

The Sanskrit word for yogic breath practice is composed of two roots, “prāṇa” and “āyāma.” Prāṇa is the energy of the Universe and is actually what the Universe is made of. Prāṇa, in our own experience, is the “life-force,” without which the body is dead. “Āyāma” means to expand. Therefore, yogic breath practice is aimed at expanding our life-force energy.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Jainism glossary
Source: The University of Sydney: A study of the Twelve Reflections

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) refers to “breath control”, according to the 11th century Jñānārṇava, a treatise on Jain Yoga in roughly 2200 Sanskrit verses composed by Śubhacandra.—Accordingly, “Breath control (prāṇāyāma) is praised by mendicants, whose own opinions are well-established, for the accomplishment of meditation and for steadiness of the inner self. Therefore, it should be learned directly and before [meditation] by the wise. Otherwise, even a little mastering of the mind cannot be done. It is considered by the teachers of old as threefold in accordance with the difference in characteristics. [...]”.

The three kinds of Prāṇāyāma (“breath-control”) are:

  1. inhalation (pūraka),
  2. holding (kumbhaka),
  3. exhalation (recaka).
General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of General definition from relevant books on Exotic India

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Marathi glossary
Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

prāṇayāma (प्राणयाम).—m S Breathing through the nostrils &c. See prāṇāyāma.

--- OR ---

prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—m S A rite consisting in breathing through the nostrils with certain closings and openings of them during the mental recitation of the names and attributes of some deity. It comprises the operations named kumbhaka, puraka, & rēcaka.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—m Regulated breathing.

context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Marathi from relevant books on Exotic India

Sanskrit dictionary

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Prāṇayama (प्राणयम).—= प्राणायाम (prāṇāyāma) q. v.

Derivable forms: prāṇayamaḥ (प्राणयमः).

Prāṇayama is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms prāṇa and yama (यम).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—m.

(-maḥ) Breathing in a peculiar way through the nostrils, during the mental recitation of the names or attributes of some deity; it is differently performed. the Vaidikas or followers of the Veda close the right nostril first with the thumb, and inhale breath through the left, then they close both nostrils, and finally open the right for exhalation; the followers of the Tantras close the left nostril first, and exhale also through it; these operations are severally called pūraka, kumbhaka and recaka E. prāṇa breath, ā before, yam to restrain, aff. ghañ .

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम).—[masculine] restraining of breath.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Prāṇayama (प्राणयम):—[=prāṇa-yama] [from prāṇa > prān] m. = prāṇāyāma, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

2) Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम):—[from prāṇa > prān] m. (also [plural]) Name of the three ‘breath-exercises’ performed during Saṃdhyā (See pūraka, recaka, kumbhaka, [Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams 93; Religious Thought and Life in India 402; Monier-Williams’ Buddhism 239]), [Kauśika-sūtra; Yājñavalkya; Purāṇa]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम):—[prāṇā+yāma] (maḥ) 1. m. Breathing in a particular way through the nostrils only, as practised by ascetics.

[Sanskrit to German]

Pranayama in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Sanskrit from relevant books on Exotic India

Hindi dictionary

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Hindi glossary
Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम) [Also spelled pranayam]:—(nm) exercising control over the process of breathing, restraining or suspending the breath during the mental recitation of the name of a deity or as a religious or yogic exercise; ~[yāmī] one who practises [prāṇāyāma].

context information


Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Hindi from relevant books on Exotic India

Kannada-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Pranayama in Kannada glossary
Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Prāṇāyāma (ಪ್ರಾಣಾಯಾಮ):—[noun] a breathing exercise; regulation of breathing.

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

Discover the meaning of pranayama in the context of Kannada from relevant books on Exotic India

See also (Relevant definitions)

Relevant text

Related products

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: