Pranayama Samaveta Pranayama

Within us there are various forms of energy which permeate and surround our bodies. These are closely connected with our health, thinking and the way we react to the external world. Some of these energies are well known: nervous energy, chemical energy and so on. Yet there are some which are not normally perceived in the everyday life of most people. It is these subtle forms as well as the grosser forms of energy that the practices of pranayama seek to harmonize and manipulate. The method of gaining mastery over these energies (pranas) is an indirect one, control and manipulation of respiration, though the control of energy that we derive from oxygen during breathing is direct.

This subject of prana and pranayama will be fully discussed in the next lesson1. In this topic we will describe one of the simplest practices of pranayama called samaveta pranayama.

The Sanskrit word samaveta means 'together'. Therefore samaveta pranayama is a practice where one breathes through both the nostrils. This might seem to be an obvious and inconsequential statement, but the practice is so named to distinguish it from other techniques of pranayama where the flow of air is directed in one nostril by physically or mentally preventing the flow in the other nostril.


Sit in a comfortable position, preferably in one of the meditative asanas2. If at this stage you find these meditative asanas uncomfortable you can sit in a chair or against a wall with the feet outstretched. The essential thing is that the spine remains erect. If necessary, wrap a blanket around you if the atmosphere is cold. Close the eyes.

Start to practise yogic breathing3.

Try to make the movement ofthe abdomen and the chest as rhythmical as possible, so that as you inhale there is a wavelike motion from the abdomen to the chest and as you exhale there is a wavelike motion from the chest to the abdomen. Don't strain but try to breathe as deeply as possible, expelling and inhaling the maximum amount of air. Keep your eyes closed throughout the practice. Continue in this way for a few minutes. Now you will begin the practice of samaveta pranayama. At the end of inhalation, hold the breath for a second or so, without straining. Then breathe out. Your breathing should be as slow as is comfortable.

Exhale as much air as possible and then inhale. Again hold the breath for a short time and then exhale. Continue in this way for as long as you have time.

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