Sama Vritti Pranayama
The meaning of pranayama : ‘Pranayama’ literally means ‘to expand prana’ (vital force). In the 49th Sutra of Sadhanapada of Patanjala Yogasutra, the great Rishi Patanjali has defined Pranayama as a process in which respiration is interrupted and Prana, that is, the vital force is controlled and regulated. According to some, Prana mean air. But this is a wrong and misleading interpretation. Prana means something more than air. Prana, in fact, is the vital power which is the force motivating every element of the earth and which is the origin of the force of thought. There is a deep affinity between Prana and mental force, between mental force and intellect, between intellect and soul, and between soul and God. Thus, the purpose of Pranayama is to inspire, motivate, regulate and balance the vital force (Prana) pervading in the body. This is the reason why Pranayama is considered one of the efficacious means of attaining Yoga.
The importance of Pranayama: Much importance has been attached to Pranayama in Yogashastras. According to Vyasabhashya, there is no ‘tapa’ (penance), greater than Pranayama. It cleanses the body and knowledge is manifested. Manu says, ‘Just as gold and other metals melted in fire become so pure so also the sense organs of the body get rid of impurities by Pranayama.’ Pranayama is the fourth and very important stage of Ashtanga Yoga shown by Patanjali. Yoga without Pranayama is not Yoga at all. That is why Pranayama is called the soul of Yoga. Bathing is necessary for purifying the body. Similarly, Pranayama is essential for purifying the mind.
What is Sama Vritti Pranayama?
Sama Vritti is one of the basic breathing techniques in yoga and this kind of breathing helps calm your autonomic nervous system. It means equal breath or box breathing. Sama mean “equal” and vritti mean “mental fluctuations’’. It is a ratio breathing technique that uses a set length of equal inhalations, exhalations and breath retentions.
Simple steps to start the breath cycle:
- Inhale for a count of 4
- Hold the breath in for a count of 4
- Exhale for a count of 4
Benefits of Pranayama
- It helps strengthen the muscles used in breathing, increases the lung capacity, improve circulation in the body and stimulate the inner organs. Also, help exhaling excess carbon dioxide can prevent us from getting “Hypercapnia”.
- Sending more oxygen to the brain helps to improve mental clarity, focus, concentration.
- It helps let go of negative thoughts and emotions. By focusing on our breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the fight OR flight response and producing a sense of calmness.
- Focusing on the breath draws our attention inwards, which increases our inner peace and stillness making it easier to concentrate and meditate.
I would like to share a life experience, my friend and I was practising Sama Vritti. She shared that after the 4th cycle, she could smell garlic as she exhale and subsequently it get stronger. Conclusion, we should try to avoid rajasic foods that over stimulate the body and mind.