• Francesca Matteoda

Sama Vritti, a breathing exercise to calm you down and improve lung capacity

As you may know, the original terms for all things related to yoga are in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-Aryan language that is also the primary liturgical language of Hinduism,

Pranayama is the Sanskrit word for what can commonly be referred to as “breathing exercises”, however if you break down the word, you get two words: “prana” and “ayama”. Prana means life force and Ayama means to expand or prolong, so basically pranayama consists of breathing exercises that help you to prolong or expand your life force.

Pranayama is excellent for improving lung capacity and is also an excellent stress-reliever, and I think both these properties are vital in the times we are living in. Feeling stressed? Why not do some Pranayama instead of automatically reaching out for your favourite comfort food or drink? You may find you no longer have the same craving once you’ve calmed your mind.

There are several different breathing exercises in yoga, some quite advanced, so I think it’s best to start with a simple one: Sama Vritti. “Sama” means equal and “Vritti” means flow or rotation, so sama vritti involves making your inhalation last as long as your exhalation (it is also known as “equal breathing”). Please note that in yoga you should always breathe in and out through the nose, unless specifically instructed otherwise.

A more advanced version of this is “square breathing” which involves inhaling for a count of 4, holding your breath for 4 counts (full lungs), exhaling for 4 and holding your breath for 4 counts (empty lungs). I will demonstrate both in the video.


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