What is Pranayama?

Updated: Aug 28, 2021


The Sanskrit word Pranayama can be broken into two phrases, prana and yama. Prana, meaning life force energy and yama, control. Together, pranayama can be defined as controlling life force energy. This is practiced through breathing techniques, one of the oldest forms of yogic practices. There are several different pranayama exercises, or breathing techniques all with different energies and effects on the mental and physical body.


Sama: same

Vishama: unequal

Vritti: whirlpool or fluctuation


Sama-Vritti can be defined as equal breathing where the inhale and exhale are equal in both volume and duration. This is often used for beginners in pranayama, or during an asana class.

Vishama-Vritti is unequal breathing, or uneven ratio in inhale and exhale and is often introduced after Sama-Vritti is practiced comfortably.


Sama-Vritti

Example one: inhale for 4, exhale for 4

Example two: inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4


Vishama Vritti:

Example one: inhale for 4, exhale for 8

Example two: inhale for 4, hold for 6, exhale for 8



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