Yoga has been practiced for centuries. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s almost certainly a type of yoga that will work for you.One of the most popular yoga breathing practices is Sama Vritti Pranayama, or Equal Breathing. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the What is Sama Vritti Pranayama, benefits of Sama Vritti Pranayama, and how to incorporate this practice into your yoga routine
This practice helps bring balance and depth to the body, mind and spirit by synchronizing the breath with the physical body. The steady and even pattern of the breath helps to reduce stress and anxiety, while also improving focus, concentration, and mental clarity. Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned yogi, this guide will help you unlock the benefits of Sama Vritti Pranayama or Box Breathing and bring more balance into your life.
What is Sama Vritti Pranayama?
Sama Vritti Pranayama is the practice of evenly and precisely breathing in and out for a set number of breaths. Sama vritti is derived from Sanskrit where sama means “equal”, and vritti means “duration or movement”, so sama vritti pranayama refers to “equal duration breathing”. Samavritti Pranayama is a ratio breathing technique that uses inhalation, exhalation and holding of the breath i.e. breath retention for equal periods of time. This practice is done using the breath that is happening in the body at the moment. There is no effort to control, change, or manipulate the breath.
The goal is to bring the breath and the mind into harmony, which leads to a sense of ease and balance throughout the body, mind, and spirit. Sama Vritti sounds fancy, but it is actually quite simple. It is just a particular ratio of the number of inhales to the number of exhales. The practice of equal breathing improves all the functions of the brain.
Benefits of Sama Vritti Pranayama
While the practice of Sama Vritti Pranayama is simple, it brings great benefit and can be applied to many areas of life.
1-) Sama Vritti Pranayama reduces stress
One of the most common benefits of Sama Vritti Pranayama is that it helps reduce stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but when it becomes chronic, it can cause significant negative effects on the body and mind. When the body is in a relaxed state, it is less stressed, which allows it to function at its highest potential.
2-) Sama Vritti Pranayama helps with anxiety
Anxiety is a state of worry and fear that causes the mind to stay in a state of constant stress. When practicing Sama Vritti Pranayama, you should allow yourself to completely let go of those thoughts and feelings that are causing anxiety. This will help you find a balance and calm inside yourself, which will make it easier to manage those feelings of anxiety when they arise.
3-) Sama Vritti Pranayama improves focus
The practice of Sama Vritti Pranayama also helps to improve focus and concentration. This can be applied to both the yoga practice and daily life. With improved focus, you will be able to pay more attention to the details in your yoga practice. You can also expect that this practice will make it easier to quiet the mind and focus on the things that are important to you outside of yoga.
4-) Sama Vritti Pranayama improves mental clarity
A clear mind is a focused mind, and with improved mental clarity, you will be better able to take control of your thoughts. This pranayama practice is also said to help bring a sense of peace to the mind.
5-) Sama Vritti Pranayama improves functioning of brain
The same breathing sequence helps create a state of silence that calms the body and mind. It helps in removing distracting thoughts, stress and anxiety from the mind and helps in improving the functioning of the brain.
How to practice Sama Vritti Pranayama?
It is recommended that you practice Sama Vritti Pranayama at the beginning of your yoga practice, but it can also be used as a standalone pranayama practice.
Steps to practice Sama Vritti Pranayama For Beginners
Sama vritti Pranayama can be practiced by beginners without holding the breath by simply equating the inhalation and exhalation, as explained below:
1. Place yourself in Sukhasana or Padmasana
Sukhasana is the simplest and most common sitting yoga asana. Get into a comfortable sitting position, either on a meditation cushion or a yoga mat. The posture should be relaxed and comfortable.
2. Position your hands
Keeping the hands on the knees, close the eyes and make Gyan Mudra with the fingers.
3. Bring your attention to the breath
Once you are in a comfortable sitting position, bring your attention to your breath. As you inhale, notice that the breath is moving into your abdomen. As you exhale, focus on the feeling of the breath leaving your abdomen.
4. Keep the ratio of inhales to exhales
Start breathing slowly for a steady count of four. Then exhale slowly for a steady count of four. In this way keep the ratio of inhalation and exhalation 1:1. Continue this exercise for a few more cycles.
5. Keep a steady and even rhythm
Maintain a steady and even rhythm when you practice Sama Vritti Pranayama. After a few rounds you can increase the count to 6 if you find the count of 4 a bit low. But if you feel yourself getting out of breath, reduce the count to 2 or 3 until it feels easier. Otherwise you can continue counting to 4.
If you feel that you are getting distracted and the in-breath ratio is not right, start the practice again.
6. End the practice when you feel at peace
Once you feel calm and at peace, end the rhythmic and balanced breathing exercise. This can happen after a set number of breaths, or it can happen when you experience a certain stillness in your body and mind.
Steps to practice Sama Vritti Pranayama For Advanced Yoga Practitioners
Advanced yoga practitioners who have already practiced equal breathing can incorporate breath retention (that is, holding the breath after each inhalation and exhalation) to advance their practice.
As discussed, sama vritti focuses on equalizing inhalation (puraka), internal breath retention (antara kumbhaka), exhalation (rechaka) and external breath retention (bahya kumbhaka). This is the reason why Sama Vritti Pranayama is also called “Four-Parts Even Breathing.”
All the above steps will remain same. Only step 4 will involve breath retention as follows:
- Begin with inhaling (puraka) for a steady count of four
- hold the breath (antara kumbhaka) for count of four
- exhale (rechaka) for the count of four
- hold on the exhale (bahya kumbhaka) for a count of four.
Continue practicing Sama Vritti Pranayama for a few more rounds. You can then proceed to increase the duration and rounds. But remember to increase the practice gradually and do not force or strain the breath during Pranayama practice.
Tips for mastering the Sama Vritti Pranayama
1-)Practice daily: Daily practice of pranayama is recommended in order to learn the techniques of ratio breathing and reap the many benefits.
2-)Stay focused: An essential part of Sama Vritti Pranayama is to remain focused on the breath. While practicing this pranayama, your attention should be completely focused on the breath. This will help you to get away from all the distracting thoughts.
3-) Give yourself plenty of time: This pranayama practice of equal breath is not something that can be done quickly. It is important to take your time and stay focused on the breath to get the most out of this practice.
4-) Go with the flow: One of the best things about Sama Vritti Pranayama is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Sometimes you may find yourself doing the practice perfectly, and other times you may struggle to keep the ratio of inhales to exhales correct. When you find yourself struggling, go with the flow, and try to find a place of ease and relaxation within yourself.
Contraindications- Sama Vritti Pranayama
Sama Vritti Pranayama involves holding the breath in two different phases, so there are some contradictions to be kept in mind while practicing this Pranayama.
- People suffering with high or low blood pressure should not practice holding the breath.
- After exhalation, one should not attempt to hold the breath until the other phases i.e. inhalation, retention and exhalation have been practiced.
- It is better to avoid the practice of Sama Vritti or square breathing by people with heart problems, lung problems, eye or ear problems.
- Pregnant women should avoid holding their breath.
- In case of any discomfort such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or disorientation, stop the practice and return to normal relaxed breathing patterns.
Realted breathing techniques to Sama Vritti Pranayama
Ujjayi Pranayama: This pranayama breathing technique is often paired with Sama Vritti Pranayama, and it can be used as an alternative. During this breathing technique, you will gently constrict the back of your throat as you breathe in and out.
Abdominal Breathing: To get the most out of any pranayama practice, it is best to do it with abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing is a simple and effective way to bring more balance into your life. This type of breathing is done through the abdomen, and is the most natural type of breathing.
The importance of proper posture in Sama Vritti Pranayama
The proper posture for this pranayama practice is important for two reasons. The first is that it helps to keep your mind focused on the breath and not the physical body. The second is that it helps to keep your body relaxed and promotes healthy breathing.
Sukhasana: Sukhasana is the simplest and most common seated yoga posture. Get into a comfortable seated position, either on a meditation cushion or a yoga mat. The posture should be relaxed and comfortable.
Ujjayi Pranayama: If you are going to be doing Ujjayi Pranayama while in Sukhasana, you should make sure that your tongue is on the roof of your mouth and that you are tensing your tongue as you breathe in and out. This will help to constrict the throat and create the sound that is associated with this breathing technique.
Padmasana: Padmasana is the lotus position, and it is one of the most traditional ways to sit for meditation. This posture is typically done with the legs crossed, but it can also be done with the legs crossed and the feet resting on the thighs.
Sama Vritti Pranayama is a wonderful breathing exercise for experiencing greater focus, calmness, and relaxation when you find yourself anxious, overwhelmed, or disconnected from your body and mind. Therefore, harmonize your vital life force (Prana) with the universal energy by balancing your breath with Sama Vritti Pranayama (four-part breathing) and aligning your body, mind, and spirit.
Read more articles