breathwork

Foundation Friday: Sama Vritti Breath

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Yogalifer Amy Stuparyk shows us you can literally practice this breath anywhere!

 


Foundation Friday: Sama Vritti Breath


Pranayama (meaning: to restrain or control life force) Sama Vritti or Equal Breath (Sama = even, smooth, flat, equal or same, Vritti = fluctuations or modifications)

sa-ma vree-tee

 

Why do we practice Sama Vritti breathing?

 

As the saje Patanjali teaches, we practice yoga asanas and meditation to calm or smooth the fluctuations of the mind (yoga-chitta-vritti-nirodhah).  This same principle can apply to sama vritti pranayama—smooth, equal breaths to inspire a calm mind.  As the name suggests, the purpose of sama vritti is to create a steady, equal rhythm to create a quality of 'sameness' or balance in the flow of consciousness. Pranayama—or breathwork—is one of the eight Limbs of Yoga (more on those to come!) and can be practiced on its own, or alongside asana (postures).

 

Sama Vritti may help...

 

  • distractions of the mind
  • anxiety
  • heart rate
  • flow of consciousness
  • general focus and attention
  • achieving a meditative state
  • steadiness in our seated and asana practice
The duration of our everyday inhales and exhales are usually arrythmic or irregular. This indicates an imbalance in our everyday consciousness. The practice of sama vritti or equal breathing will create a quality of 'balance' or 'sameness' in the flow of our consciousness. It is helpful in reaching a state of equilibrium and as you practice, and since it instills a sense of calm and quiet, you might notice that the rest of your day goes by without you becoming agitated by little things.

How is it done?

 

Pranayama often fixes a ratio between the length of each inhale and exhale.  In sama vritti pranayama, the ratio is equal.  It is a good idea to begin the practice of sama vritti pranayama in the reclining position and then continue by moving on to a seated practice.

 

To engage sama vritti pranayama, try restricting your breath to an even count on both the inhale and exhale, for example:  an inhale = 4 counts, and an exhale = 4 counts. Continue with this pattern.

 

You can increase the number of counts for each inhale and exhale as you feel comfortable, enjoying the longest pattern you can sustain!  Remember to take your time and stay steady with the counts. Notice the way your body, mind, and spirit feels quiet and calm after a sama vritti pranayama practice.... and then carry this with you throughout your day!

5 Energizing Pranayama Techniques

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"Each breath in is a new chance to let Life flow through you, to let go of resistance to the moment, to cultivate compassion for yourself and others."


Adapted from Michelle Margaret at Elephant Journal

A few months ago we filled you in on the point of pranayama, the beautiful practice of breathwork.  Pranayama is a sanskrit word meaning extension of breath or life force.  It is broken down into prana, meaning life force or vital energy, and yama, meaning control.  Breathing is the essential key to yoga and even five minutes of pranayama creates immense focus and centering.  Here are five energizing pranayama techniques!

 

1. Alternate Nostril Breath

Alternate Nostril Breathing is traditionally done in a seated, cross-legged meditation posture, though it’s fine to sit in a chair if you’re not comfortable on the floor. In either case, sit up with a tall spine and relaxed face and shoulders.

 

The mudra (hand position) is done with the right hand. Fold the index finger and middle finger down to touch the palm. Begin with the thumb lightly closing your right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, to the count of four, six or eight. Hold the breath in for four, six or eight seconds. Then, lightly close your left nostril with your ring finger and release the thumb from your right nostril. Exhale through the right side. Inhale again through the right side. Retain the breath here in the middle only if you feel comfortable doing so. Exhale through the left.

 

That is one cycle.

 

To summarize: inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left. Optionally retain the inbreath in and the outbreath out. Continue for five cycles or more. You can work up to doing this breath exercise for five or more minutes at a time.

 


Alternate Nostril Breathing works like a charm to clear and calm the mind. It’s a terrific technique to incorporate at the beginning and/or end of your yoga session.


 

2. Bumblebee Breath

 

Use your fingertips to lightly cover your closed eyelids. Using your thumbs, close your ears. Inhale deeply through the nose and as you exhale, let out a long, low humming sound. With the eyes and ears closed, the hum will reverberate in your head and sound like a buzzing bee. Repeat three, four, or more times.

 

As you do this breath exercise, bring your inner gaze to the third eye, the point between your eyebrows. The Bumblebee Breath is purported to calm the mind and inspire new creative ideas.  Next time you are feeling overstimulated or uninspired, give it a shot.

 

3. Dog Breath (a.k.a. Breath of Fire)

 

You need to get in touch with your inner child for this one. (It’s great for kids yoga, as is Bumblebee Breath.) For Dog Breath, pant like a dog, first through the open mouth. Then, close your mouth and continue the panting breath through the nose. Do two sets of thirty seconds each, pausing between the sets and taking deep breaths.


This technique brings oxygen to the brain and help you wake up and feel more alert.


 

4. Ocean Breath

 


“You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”

~ Alan Watts


Ocean breath is super simple and calming yet energizing. Take deep, slow, long, active inhales and let the exhale out naturally and passively. Close your eyes and notice how this creates a sound like the waves in the ocean.

 

5. Just Sit

 


“There is no success or failure, no great place you are going. You are “just sitting.” To wander, to obsess, to lust—you get a flavor of the mind, a direct meeting. Without acting on any of the thoughts, you get to see how they rise up and—if you’re lucky–pass away. Sometimes we get stuck. You get to observe the nature of being stuck.”

~ Natalie Goldberg


Simple breath awareness is an excellent meditation technique.  As you breathe consciously through the nose, recall that this magnificent function has been with you since the moment of your birth and will be with you until your final exhale of this precious life.

 

Have any questions about Pranayama or all things “breath?” Feel free to contact us at info@yogalifestudios, or get in contact with our Exquisite Breath expert, Brittany Rudyck!