Pranayama is the yogic breath. It refines the energy body. Pranayama revitalizes the entire body, opens the heart, and calms the mind. Through these practices we begin to learn the basics of concentration and meditation. We develop an ability to clear the body and the mind, developing the necessary capacity for one-pointed focus.
Pranayama is one of the most important tools in your yoga practice. It is centering and grounding, bringing you constantly back into an awareness of the body. Staying aware of the breath during your practice creates a deeper experience of yoga, an experience of real union. If your mind is wandering when you are practicing your asanas, you are not practicing yoga, you are practicing duality – thinking while in a yoga pose.
Pranayama changes your experience of yoga. It is one thing that helps differentiate the asanas from any other physical exercise. Linking the mind to the breath as you move the body – this is powerful stuff. The power of pranayama can fuel your practice to ever deepening levels, and will affect how you live “off the mat.”