Prana in yoga philosophy and practice is often a metaphor for something much greater:/ an energy that the western world of science is only just beginning to discover.
If Pra means first, Na means vibration and An means to breathe.
Then what is Pranayama?
If we take An ” ~ which means to breathe, and add it to Ayama ~ which means to lengthen, or extend, we can see that pranayama is to do with , expanding the breath; pranayama practices are generally interpreted as breath control exercises.
The introductory pranayama technique is an awareness of how the muscle bands around the lungs work . The practice can help you to become aware of how breathing techniques appear, and the ‘affects’ the different muscle bands. / The first pranayama technique you will learn builds your awareness of how the muscle bands around the lungs work, helping you to understand how different breathing techniques feel physically.
Precautions and prohibitions for Pranayama
Pranayama practices are not appropriate for every yoga practitioner; some techniques are not suitable for those with certain medical conditions, and other practices may/should be modified to suit/accommodate certain ailments. The general advice is to never rush or strain, and practise pranayama before asanas. BWY teachers advise not to practise pranayama if you are pregnant, suffering from a heart condition or blood pressure problems.
Pranayama is most accurately defined as the extending or expanding of the dimensions of prana. Certainly, as you become more experienced with pranayama, you begin to experience your breath ~ or indeed prana ~ on a deeper level.