Sama Vritti Pranayama – this exercise helps you release stress and come back to base. It develops good awareness of the breath and, by fully involving the mind, it is a good concentration exercise. It feels balancing to the mind and is good when you are anxious or have trouble sleeping. It can be practised in many places.
- Lay or sit comfortably and first become aware of your natural, normal breath. After a little time, incorporate a mental count. Make your inhalation and exhalation each for beats long and continue this for 5 to 8 rounds.
- Increase the length of your inhalation and exhalation to 5 beats. After five or so rounds, lengthen it to 6 beats. Check in with how your body and mind feel. It may be that you have begun to hold tension in certain places; keep your body relaxed.
- Lengthen your inhalation and exhalation to a count of 7 each. Again sweep over your body to be sure that no tension has accumulated. Check that the skin on your forehead is relaxed and your jaw muscles are soft.
- After 5 or 10 rounds, increase your count to 8 beats. If you feel this lengthened breathing is causing stress, drop the count back to a number that gives you an elongated breath, yet doesn’t create tension. Any force anywhere will only be counter-productive.
- If you’re still feeling comfortable bring your count to 9 beats. Relax the skin on your face. Relax your tongue. After some time you may like to bring the count to 10 beats. Whatever the final number continue with this long, even breathing for several rounds. Then drop the counting and breathe naturally for 10 rounds. Observe how it feels to be in your body right now. How is your mind feel? How does your emotional heart feel? More than likely you feel more relaxed than when you started. When it’s time to end the practice, set your intention to keep a thread of connection to this relaxation as you continue with your day.
Breath, life and energy are intrinsically connected and yogis have a single word for all three of them – prana. Pranayama, where Breath is controlled, increases vitality and mental focus, and expands consciousness.
Breath acts as a bridge to our nervous system and by exploring pranayama practices we can observe how deeply it is connected to the mind. Just as our breathing alters depending on our mood, our psychological state can be altered by changes in our breath. Conscious breathing brings oxygen and energy to the cells and enhances all cellular processes. It’s a fantastic source of energy. It’s simple: when we breathe better we feel better.