limbs of yoga

Foundation Friday: Sama Vritti Breath



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!