The summer, with its sweltering highs and cripplingly hot heat waves, tends to be a season that invokes agitation. The heat brings mild anxiety and irritating physical exhaustion. After a long, hot day, it can be difficult to get back to being comfortable.
One way to center yourself is with breathing exercises.
Regular breathing exercises and and deep breathing activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as “the relaxation system of the body.” In Ayurveda, this deals with prana, the energy of life. To manage this energy, practitioners perform pranayama, an exercise that is an extension of the breath or life force and one of the eight limbs of classical yoga by Patanjali. One great basic exercise is Sama Vritti, a breathing exercise for “Equal Breathing”:
Sama Vritti: A Practice of Equal Breathing
Sama is a sanskrit phrase, and means smooth, even and equal. Vritti means fluctuations or modifications. Samma Vritti together means bringing evenness to the fluctuations in the body. This deals with bringing our body back into its resting state, without the experience of stress or anxiety. It encourages this balance through a routine of breathing, based on specific counts of equal duration. By practicing it regularly, it can help settle the mind and harmonize consciousness by bringing the body to awareness, following rhythm and reinforcing balance. The bottom line: whether it’s in preparation for your practice and when you’re feeling stressed during summer-heat, practicing Sama Vritti helps you be better able to reach calmness and settle your senses.
The practice involves inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Follow these steps:
- First, get comfortable. Sit cross-legged, as in easy pose, or add a bit of padding as cushion is needed.
- Find your natural breath. Allow your body to relax, rest your shoulders, and try not to force anything.
- When you’re ready, begin to inhale through the nose to a count of 2 or 4 count. Allow your lower belly to rise outward.
- Exhale to a 4 count as well. This is the sama – that equal duration of inhaling and exhaling, and the regularity in the practice.
- Repeat as long as needed.
Try coming to this practice when you’re feeling uncomfortable, off balance, or have just had an exhausting day. When practicing before bed, it can also help you fall asleep faster.
Practicing Equal Breathing
Sama Vritti can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and the benefit is two-fold: deep breathing is good for the body, and the regularity and focus of the practice helps the mind. It’s something that is good for you in a holistic, encompassing manner. Engaging in deep breathing exercises slows the heartbeat, stabilizes blood pressure, and by engaging the senses in a rhythm, it helps encourage a feeling of mental balance. By practicing just a few times a week, you might be able to conquer this summer heat after all.