Monday, 1 August 2016

Healing Yoga: Sama Vritti Pranayama!


In the Healing Yoga series, I share everyday yoga therapy practices to bring balance and depth to your holistic health routine. I believe a great amount of our daily nourishment happens beyond just the food we eat. In Yoga, we use our breath to increase our vital energy and life-force. We direct and strengthen the flow of this energy, prana, through the practice of conscious breathing, pranayama.  Dr. David Frawley reminds us that, “Prana is not only the basic life-force, it is the master form of all energy working on the level of mind, life and body.”
By learning to move the prana through our bodies, we learn to relax when we’re in a state of stress, to address challenging situations in life with greater ease, and to support our bodies and minds to process and integrate our daily experiences. This could translate to better digestion, more energy, stronger bodies, peaceful minds.  And who doesn’t want that?
This foundational pranayama practice is a perfect one to begin with and return to time and time again. Sama Vritti means same or equal fluctuations in Sanskrit. In practice, it is a steady inhalation and exhalation of equal duration. This even breathing pattern is both soothing for the mind and body. When you find yourself anxious, overwhelmed, or simply disconnected from your body/mind, this breath teaches you steadiness and supports a gentle shift into your parasympathetic nervous system. It grounds and stabilizes an overactive Vata, so the mind and body can relax again. Sama Vritti is also the breathing pattern used in asana practice, so by learning this breath in a seated practice you’ll increase your ability to flow through movement with deeper connection to steady breathing.

SAMA VRITTI PRANAYAMA
PRACTICE |
  1. Find a comfortable seated position that elevates the hips above the knees. You can sit on a blanket, pillow or in a chair to support the diaphragm to be open for easier breathing. You may also do this practice lying down for greater ease.
  2. As you settle in, begin to notice your natural inhale and exhale. Notice the length, the sensations in the body and how the breath is flowing. Notice the transition between the inhale and exhale.  If there is tension in your breathing, see how you can llow the breath to be quiet, gentle and smooth between the transitions.
  3. Then, start to count the inhale. Breathe in slowly for four steady counts. Gently turn to exhale, breathing out for four steady counts. Continue this for several rounds.
  4. If this counting feels too short, slowly start to increase the count working your way up to a steady count of 10 (ie. breathe in for 6, out for 6, breath in 8, out 8, breath in 10, out 10). Only go to a count that you maintain comfort and ease in the body and mind.
  5. Do 10 rounds of this breath at a gentle pace, continuing to relax the effort and remaining present. If you lose count, simply begin again.
  6. As you finish your practice, let the breath return to normal. Notice the peaceful changes in your body and the mind with the rhythmic, balanced breathing.

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