Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Vishama-Vritti Mean?

Vishama-vritti is the name of a type of pranayama that is considered an intermediate exercise. It is often described as a practice of uneven breathing, or unequal ratio breathing, where either the inhalation or the exhalation is made longer. When the inhalation is lengthened, vishama-vritti is considered to be an energizing pranayama. When the exhalation is lengthened, it is considered to be relaxing.

Vritti refers to the fluctuations of the mind, which yogis believe may be calmed through pranayama practices.


Yogapedia Explains Vishama-Vritti

Pranayama practices such as vishama-vritti are often thought of as even more powerful than asana practices. It is important when first learning pranayama to practice vishama-vritti gently and without strain.

Vishama-vritti is often described in contrast to its alternative ratio breathing technique, sama-vritti, in which the inhalation and exhalation are made to be exactly the same length. Considered a more basic pranayama, it is recommended to master sama-vritti before attempting vishama-vritti.

A common approach to vishama-vritti is to work toward a ratio of 1:4:2:1, which refers to inhaling for one count, retaining the breath in for four counts, exhaling for two counts and and retaining the breath out for one count. Retaining the breath after an exhalation is not recommended for beginners and should be worked up to gradually.

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