The Many Uses of Sama Vritti
In many ways, Sama Vritti is the most basic of yoga practices. Also known as “equal breathing,” the exercise is defined by Yogapedia (actually kind of a cool site, incidentally) as an equal ratio breathing technique practiced by making sure that the inhalation is the same length as the exhalation. The counts for these breaths in and out may vary, but the practice is simple. Typically you sit in a comfortable pose with your spine erect and your arms relaxed at your sides, and then breathe in and out in equal measure through your nose. If you’re reading here, you probably knew all that, or a variation of it at least. What isn’t covered as often is how many uses there are for this simple but effective exercise.
Prepping A Workout
Whether or not it’s specifically Sama Vritti, you may have noticed in yoga classes and routines that some sort of calming breathing exercise often comes at the beginning and at the end. This is intentional, and it’s basically a way to calm the body, relax the muscles, and center your focus before you move on to a more rigorous workout. In a way, a slow breathing exercise serves as a sort of separation between the rest of your day and the workout session you’re engaging in. Thus, one of the main uses of Sama Vritti is basically as preparation for additional exercise.
The idea that Sama Vritti reduces stress can be taken as a vague assumption. That is to say, when you sit, close your eyes, relax your muscles, and breathe deeply, you assume you’ll unwind a little bit and let go of some stress. But we have this perception for a reason, and it’s actually grounded in science. Studies have shown that breathing exercises like Sama Vritti can calm your autonomic nervous system and reduce stress hormones in your body. That means it’s actually reducing your stress level on a very real, chemical level – rather than just chilling you out in some vague or imagined manner. And needless to say, stress reduction can have additional beneficial effects in and of itself.
This sounds like the same thing as reducing stress. But while that’s more of a comprehensive benefit, this is referring to the potential for Sama Vritti to relax you in a given moment – a short-term benefit, in addition to the long-term ones. Recent support for this concept comes in the form of Sama Vritti earning a spot as an exercise to do while gaming, the argument being that gamers can get very stressed very quickly and need to calm themselves down. That’s only one example of when the exercise can come in common, but it’s a tidy one. No matter what you’re doing, if you get a little too worked up, a few minutes of Sama Vritti can help calm you right down (in some cases literally by lowering blood pressure and breathing rate).
Improving Lung Capacity
We don’t tend to think of breathing exercises as having lasting benefits. Rather, they’re just calming and refreshing in the moment. But when you think about it specifically as an exercise, you can begin to see it differently. Just as cardio exercise can improve your endurance, or resistance training can help you build energy, Sama Vritti and other practices like it can help you expand your breathing ability by improving your lung capacity. The more time you take to breathe deeply and steadily, the more your lungs get used to doing so on their own.
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