Pranayama (devanāgarī: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit term composed of two words. The first is prāṇa, and refers to the life force or vital energy, and also to the breath. The second word can be ayāma (beginning with short a: "extension", "expansion") or āyāma (beginning with long a: "stopping", "restraining"). Therefore, the composed term can be translated as either extension or stopping of the life force or breath.
Traditionally, in the Theosophical view, its unsupervised practice is regarded as dangerous. For example, Master K.H. wrote that A. O. Hume had, "by the injudicious practice of pranayam, developed in himself to some extent mediumship — is tainted for life with it".
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 102 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 349.