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Sama Vritti

If you have come to class with me,

chances are you will have practiced the pranayama (breath control) Sama Vritti. If you are in relatively good health this practice should not seem difficult and perhaps the biggest challenge is the ability to stay focussed and stick with this simple shift in the breath and cultivate enough patience to allow it's subtle benefits to emerge!

What does Sama Vritti mean?

This Sanskrit term can roughly be translated to mean Equal or balanced (sama) flluctuations (vritti)

You have possibly heard the term vritti being used to refer to the mental chatter we all experiece- Citta vritti nirodha (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras 1.2) describes Yoga as the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. You may find that with time the simple practice described below is one of yoga's most simple and effective ways to attain a sense of mental balance.

How to practice Sama Vritti?

(Bonus fact! Outside of yoga this breathing practice is referred to as Coherant breathing.)

  • All you need to do to start your practice is sit, lie or stand comfortably.

  • Bring focus to your breath, take a moment to notice it as it is without the need to change it.

  • If possible encourage the breath to flow in and out through the nostrils.

  • Start to invite balance to the breath as you match the length of the inhale to the length of the exhale.

  • Count the breath in for 5 or 6

  • Count the breath out for 5 or 6

  • Cultivate a slow and soft breath that feels full and deep but still feels easy.

  • If you start to find the breath challenging shorten the count a little, still keeping the balanced ration between inhale and exhale.

  • Eventually you can let go of the counting but keep the pace which will start to feel very natural and comfortable with practice.

Practice for a few minutes whenever needed, taking time, if possible, after to observe any effects on your body/ mind.

What are the benefits?

So you know how to do it, but why bother?

Bringing focus to the breath is always a good (and relatively easy) way to step out of your daily narrative and to step back from the constant thought cycles to gain a sense of space and perspective. This simple pause and shift in focus can help with decision making, creativity and communication within our relationships.

This pranayama in particular has been shown to intitiate the body's restorative mode (the parasympathetic nervous system) allowing better functioning of the digestive system and the immune system. It reduces production of stress hormones in the body which can help lower blood pressure and increase general feelings of wellbeing.

If you are interested in finding out more I thoroughly recommend James Nestors book Breath. Or speak to me about 1-2-1 or 2-2-1 breathwork sessions in Gomshall.

(Bonus fact- a pace of 5.5 seconds in, 5.5 seconds out results in about 5.5 breaths per minute. This pattern matches many ancient spiritual practices such as vedic chanting, catholic prayer, and even reciting the prose of William Shakespeare!)

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