Pranayam is breath. Prana is also our life force and a link to our soul. Pranayam is also one of the 8 limbs of yoga. We can extend and restrain our life force through our breath.
When we practice physical yoga our breath can really help us in a physical pose. Our breath can help us relax into a pose or dive deeper into a pose.
In the 8 limbs of yoga, prana is the 4th limb. You can sit and intentionally breath and be living yoga.
Ujjayi is one type of pranayama. Based on your yogic school of belief determines how many “types” of pranayama exist. For the sake of most of my practices here, ujjayi will be most helpful to master. We use this breath to create internal fire and focus the mind. By focusing on our breath we have little time to focus on the thoughts that pop up. Pranayama is a great practice for meditation.