Pranayama is one of the 8 limbs of Yoga, and a beautiful way to consciously connect the mind, body, and breath. There is a reason that ‘Prana’ means life-force. We reflexively breathe all day every day- without it, we wouldn’t survive- but how often do you breathe consciously? Pranayama has a large variety of benefits, including relaxation, decreased stress/anxiety levels, energy balancing, pain management, and more. If you need some help to get started, here are 3 easy techniques to give you some structure for your breath practice. If you only do one thing today: JUST BREATHE!
Anyone who can a). breathe, and b). count, can practice Sama Vritti, as it simply involves matching the duration of your inhalations with the duration of your exhalations. In Sanskrit, ‘Sama’ means ‘equal/same’, and ‘Vritti’ means ‘fluctuations’, with the intention being to balance and equalise the breath. It can be done any time, any place, so is always accessible if you need a few moments to collect, and connect to, yourself. My preferred count for my personal practice is 4 seconds, but others prefer, 3, 5, or a different number all together; explore the duration that best suits you. For a detailed introduction on Sama Vritti, see HERE.
Best done lying down, this soothing technique helps us to quell anxiety by engaging our parasympathetic nervous system via vagal stimulation. If you’re worrying or generally feeling out of sorts, this is the one for you, with the added bonus that it can be done in bed, helping us to drift off for a more restful sleep…
Practice consciously inflating your belly like a balloon on your inhalations, and allowing it to passively recoil to a neutral position on your exhalations. Repeat for as much time or as many breaths as you need. See HERE for a written tutorial.
Otherwise known as ‘Alternate nostril breathing’. This one is slightly tricky at first, as it involves matching your inhalations and exhalations to specific hand movements which close off one nostril at a time alternatively, but once you have practiced it a few times, it becomes like second nature. This is a great technique for everyone, but especially people who like to have something to do with their hands. See HERE for a full explanation of how this works, and what to do.
If you have found this article useful, please feel free to share it with family and friends. Check out the VetYogi Meditations/Pranayama page for more breathing techniques.