According to the etymological sense, Pranayama corresponds to two concepts:

* This term is composed of prana (constant motion, vital energy) and yama (control): The aim of pranayama is to control the Prana and its physical manifestations, the blasts of assimilation (prana), excretion (apana) concentration (Samana), expression (udana) and dissemination (Vyana). The control and manipulation of respiratory data play a fundamental role in this phase is known as prana nigraha and covers all the techniques of pranayama.

* It can also decompose the word prana and Ayame: the meaning is then a pranic field expansion through the inversion of breath and prana and apana and their union in Samana. This meaning of pranayama is mentioned in many texts. It is a very advanced stage, intended to awaken the spiritual energy (kundalini) and cause a drastic change in level of consciousness.