During the busy holiday season, relax the body and re-focus the mind with a simple, yet powerful breathing technique, Samavritti Pranayama, or Equal Part Breath. In Sanskrit, ‘sama’ means the same or equal, and ‘vritt’i means fluctuations or modifications in the mind. When we take the time to practice a breathing technique, we set ourselves up for the opportunity to calm the central nervous system and relax the body. Samavritti can be practiced at any time during the day in order to receive its powerful healing qualities.
To do Equal Part Breath: Come to a comfortable crossed-legged seat. Option to sit on a blanket, towel or bolster for support or sit against a wall. If seated is not comfortable, come to lay down on the back and bring the soles of the feet to the earth hip-width distance apart, bending the knees. Option to use a pillow, folded-up blanket, or bolster under the knees for added low-back support. Option to put a towel or blanket under the head for more comfort and to create more length in the neck.
Begin to relax the body and release any tension in the jaw and the face. If seated, sit tall, lift the chest and relax the shoulders down the back. If lying down, feel the shoulder blades flush to the earth. Close the eyes or use a soft focus towards the tip of the nose or cheeks. To prepare, take an open mouth exhale to release all of the air. Inhale, and feel the belly rise and the entire back line of the body grow wider and expand. Exhale, with an open mouth releasing all of your air and mentally release tension. Repeat the breath with an open-mouth exhale one more time.
Next breath, try sealing the lips and inhale to a count of 4, chasing the breath with your mental focus. Exhale for a count of 4, envisioning the breath as it moves up and down the spine. If it helps to use more visualization in order to keep the mind present, give the breath a color as it moves up and down the spine. Inhale and exhale counting to 4 a few more times as you keep a mental focus. Next, try lengthening the inhale and exhale to a count of 5 for a few rounds of breath and then extend the count to 6 and maybe 7. Stay here and breathe for a minimum of 2 minutes and working up to 10 minutes for more calming benefits.
The intention is not to try to see how long you can expand on the inhale and the exhale. The intention is to lengthen out the breath, while creating a smooth flowing, equal breath in order to calm the mind. If it feels best to only count to 4 for the first few times you access the breath, then use a count of 4 and slowly extend the count over time.
When we bring awareness to our breathing, and work to refine the breath, we bring clarity to the mind, and the body is able to relax. Practicing pranayama techniques trains us to use more of our lung capacity. Often during the day, especially around the busy holidays, we constrict our breathing to only accessing the area around the chest, which tends to build anxiety.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, In Rhythms Yoga, Clairemont, S.D.
Christi is a certified yoga instructor that focuses on teaching adults, small group, private lessons, and kids. She has an intimate space in Clairemont, San Diego, located in the Mount streets. Christi has experienced many positive transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve your body. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the class schedule and instructors.