Yoga is evenness of mind.
“Yoga is evenness of mind” is one of my favorite definitions of Yoga. It’s certainly one of the most helpful definitions for newcomers, especially those who are in search of calmness.
In yoga we cultivate steadiness in our bodies and minds. Even when we’re off the mat, there are easeful ways to cultivate this evenness of mind. Below are two easy breath practices you can do anytime, anywhere to cultivate equanimity but first…
Simply bring your awareness to the breath and notice how you’re breathing. Are there any areas in your body where you’re holding tension? In your abdomen, chest, shoulders, face? If so, just release the holding and let your inhale and exhale become deeper and fuller.
Now sit in an upright, relaxed posture – your spine lengthening up and your shoulders relaxed – and have the intention to practice these two simple breath practices usefully and gently for a few minutes.
Sama means even. With sama breath, we let the inhale and the exhale be the same length – even, steady, continuous. This kind of steady, even breathing is soothing and calms the vrittis, which is Sanskrit for whirling thoughts.
Lengthen the Exhale
Another simple breathing practice for calming the vrittis and cultivating evenness of mind is to make the exhale longer than the inhale. Do this in a way that feels easeful for you, simply lengthening the exhale so it’s a few counts longer than the inhale.
Breathing this way – with a gently lengthened exhale – activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calms the nervous system and quiets the mind.
Let me know how it goes. If these practices don’t work for you, there is a big tool kit of practices to explore. We can do a Skype session and find a practice that’s ideal for you.