Find Peace Anytime With This Simple Pranayama Exercise

Osmara Aryal
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What does it mean to practice yoga? And what is yoga exactly?

Is it only the poses and shapes we create with our bodies on a mat? Or are there other lesser discussed ways to deepen our practice and help us rise above the overwhelm of life’s challenges and demands?

If we turn to ancient yogic texts, we can see that the “grand picture” of yoga goes beyond mere body shapes.
 
 

What Is Yoga According to the Ancient Texts?

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (a 1700-year-old authoritative text outlining the main steps of the yogic path), Sutra 1.2 says: “The restraint of mental chatter is yoga.”

This means that the main objective of yoga is to quiet the mind in order to increase inner calm and reunite with our true selves.

In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali outlined eight specific limbs to be able to still the fluctuations of the mind.

The first two steps are comprised of a set of self-regulating behaviors (Yamas) and personal training (Niyamas) such as non-violence, truthfulness, moderation, cleanliness, contentment, and self-study.

Want to learn more? Learn All About the Yamas and Niyamas From the Yoga Sutras
 

“The restraint of mental chatter is yoga.” – The Yoga Sutras

 
The third step entails the physical practice of Asana (postures), which is what most of us practice at our favorite local or online yoga studio.

The fourth step is called Pranayama (the regulation of vital force energy via the breath). Ancient yogis have always known that the breath is a powerful tool to help us rise above stress and overwhelm.

What Are the Eight Limbs of Yoga? Here’s Your Comprehensive Overview

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written 500 years ago, states that: “The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind.”

So, then, what is yoga really?
 

 
 

Yoga Is Far More Than Simply Physical Postures

What these two ancient texts teach us is, that if we wish to deepen our practice, we must move beyond the body and pay attention to the yoga of the mind.

This is because the main goal of yoga is to learn how to master one’s mind.

In order to do this, we can first begin to practice yoga by using only our breath and our awareness.

As world-renowned yoga teacher and author B.K.S. Iyengar said: “A steady and mindful in-breath and out-breath minimizes the fluctuations and helps to stabilize the mind.”

Practice these 4 Go-To Breathing Exercises For Meditation, Stress Relief, and Overall Wellbeing for some off-the-mat yoga
 
 

The Power of Pranayama

On average we take about 17,000 to 23,000 breaths every single day. Despite its regularity, though, the act of breathing can actually be a very transformative experience.

You can practice yoga throughout the day by bringing awareness to your breath, without ever touching a yoga mat or stepping into a yoga studio.

In this way, breathing takes on new meaning.
 

Our breath can be our biggest ally on the yogic path if we decide to use it regularly and consistently.

 
When you add meaning to something as habitual and automatic as breathing, it can create subtle yet profound shifts in your life, and it can also increase your resilience to life’s daily stresses and challenges.

This is why developing a daily pranayama practice is essential to not only practicing true yoga, but also to managing stress levels and emotions more efficiently.

Our breath can be our biggest ally on the yogic path if we decide to use it regularly and consistently.
 
Pranayama-yoga-how-to
 

Yoga, Then, Can Be as Simple as Practicing a Pranayama Technique

So where to start if you’re new to pranayama? Sama Vritti is a super simple and proven technique that many use in stressful moments.

This technique is so effective that it’s used by U.S. Navy SEALs, Olympic athletes, and first responders to navigate high-stress situations.

In these circles, it’s called Box Breathing, Tactical Breathing, or Combat Breathing. The yoga world calls it Sama Vritti, or Equal Breath.
 

Sama Vritti is a super simple and proven technique that many use in stressful moments.

 
In Sanskrit, “Sama” means “calm,” “quiet,” and “rest.” “Vritti” means “mental chatter” or “fluctuations of the mind.”

When we’re stressed and have pent-up tension, our brains produce more ripples and fluctuations – more mental chatter.

By practicing Sama Vritti we can start to center ourselves and soothe the mind so that, like a calm lake, the ripples dissipate.
 

 
 

Here’s How to Practice Sama Vritti Pranayama:

Let’s try it:

  • Sit upright comfortably with your mouth, face, neck, jaw, and shoulders relaxed
  • Try not to move your shoulders, neck, chest, or upper body throughout
  • Breathe through your nose only
  • Inhale for four counts
  • Expand your lower belly outwardly on your inhale (this will activate the safety signals to the calming and soothing part of your nervous system)
  • Hold for four counts
  • Exhale for four counts
  • Contract your lower belly inwardly on your exhale
  • Hold for four counts
  • Repeat for a minimum of 12 rounds (just over three minutes)

 
 

Sama Vritti Pranayama: The Takeaway

Let’s say that one full round of Sama Vritti Pranayama is a complete breath. That means that all you have to commit to for your yoga practice are just 12 breaths each day.

That’s just 12 breaths out of the minimum 17,000 daily breaths you take.

Let that sink in . . . 12 out of 17,000 breaths.

That’s only .0007% of your total daily breathing output! Can you commit to dedicating way less than 1% of your breaths toward your daily pranayama practice? Of course you can!

The beauty of Sama Vritti is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Practice it while you’re driving, waiting in line, showering, or even at the doctor’s office.

Don’t let the simplicity of this technique fool you into thinking it won’t work for you or it’s not effective. If it works for Navy SEALs, what makes you think it won’t work for you?

Looking for more pranayama techniques? These 3 Pranayama Techniques Will Bliss You The F– Out!

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Guided Pranayama and Mindfulness Meditation for a Calm and Peaceful Mind (Video)
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Osmara Aryal

Osmara Aryal, MBA is the founder of CalmWithYoga.com, a site dedicated to using yogic philosophy, breathwork, and meditation to increase inner calm, mental focus, vital energy, and quality rest. She’s a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner and a Certified Yoga Teacher, specializing in Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, Yin Yoga, and Meditation.

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