Breathing is very important in yoga both on and off the mat. The Ujjayi breath is a powerful breathing technique that can be performed anywhere, anytime and definitely during yoga sessions. It is often emphasized during yoga classes as it helps keep the mind focused, in the moment and in a meditative state. It also keeps the body calm, strong and reminds you that you are in control of your practice.
Ujjayi breathing is just one of many different kinds of pranayama techniques. It is known as the victorious breath because the word Ujjayi means victory, it can also mean triumph or success. It is a controlled breathing technique where both inhalations and exhalations are done through the nose with the mouth closed. During this breathing technique the lungs are expanded as much as possible during inhalation, with each inhalation and exhalation being smooth, controlled and of equal lengths. It is a great way to calm down the nervous system and to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels
It is often referred to as the breath that sounds like the ocean and is similar to when trying to fog a mirror. It involves restricting the back of the throat, but the best way to get an idea of what the Ujjayi breath is supposed to be like is to try fog a mirror and while you exhaling close your mouth. You will exhale through your nose instead but you should still hear an ocean sound and feel a slight restriction in the throat. The air should be entering and exiting the nose along the back of the nasal cavity. With time as you master this breathing technique this sound should only be audible to you and not everyone around you.
Next time you are practicing yoga and are reminded to engage your Ujjayi breath, focus on taking a slow deep steady breath in through the nose filling up the lungs as much as you can, hold the breath for a second or two, then as you exhale do so slowly, steadily with control as you empty out the lungs completely. Wait for a second or two before you take your next inhalation and continue the process. You should hear that audible sound with both your in breath and out breath.
Ujjayi Pranayama is a great way to:
The great thing about Ujjayi breathing is that it can be performed at any time. Engage it during your practice when you flowing and especially when holding a challenging pose. It will help you find that strength and focus. Use it to release muscle tension by sending your inhalation to areas of the body that feel tense or tight and while you exhale feel that tension melt away with your out breath. It is a breathing technique that you can use throughout the day if you find yourself under stress or pressure. Closing the eyes and focusing inwards also helps while you do it if that option is available to you. It will help you calm down and re-gain control of your mind, body and emotions.