Sama Vritti means “equal movement or equal breathing.” Pranayama is the practice of expanding our prana, our vital life force or vital life energy, through various breathing practices. In sama vritti pranayama, we work to find equal rhythm between all parts of our breath: the inhale, the pause at the top of the inhale, the exhale, and the pause at the bottom of the exhale.
I learned this practice to build to sama vritti pranayama from my teacher Sianna Sherman.
To practice sama vritti pranayama:
-Find a tall seat, where your hips and legs are grounded and your spine rises tall out of that grounding. (Feel free to sit on a chair.)
-Close your eyes and rest your hands to your thighs
-Drop into the natural rhythm of your breath. Breath smooth inhales and exhales.
-Begin to find an equal count between your inhales and exhales. For example, you may inhale to the count of 4, then exhale to the count of 4.
-As you breath with an equal inhale and exhale, begin to notice the slight pause at the top of your inhale and the slight pause at the bottom of your exhale.
-Begin to hold the pauses at the top and bottom of your breath for just a moment longer than the natural rhythm of your breath.
-After a few rounds as above, begin to increase the hold of the pauses to a count of 2. In this way, you would: Inhale for 4; Hold at the top of your inhale for 2; Exhale for 4; Hold at the bottom of your exhale for 2. Continue in this way for a few rounds of breath.
-To move on, begin to hold the pauses at the top and bottom of your breath for 4 counts as well, making an equal count for the inhale, the pause, the exhale, the pause. So: Inahle for 4; Hold at the top of the inhale for 4; Exhale for 4; Hold the breath at the bottom of the exhale for 4.
-If holding your breath for 4 counts is difficult, go back to holding for the count of 2, or even for a momentary pause at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale. (Also, you may change the count of the inhales and exhales to 3 or 2 if the count of 4 feels difficult. Find a count that allows you to feel full and at ease.)
Sama vritti pranayama is very grounding breath and it brings a sense of calm to the mind and nervous system. It also cultivates a sense of inner fullness and awareness to the full cycle of breath – the inhale, the pause, the exhale, the pause.