Ujjayi is a particular style of pranayama that is also known in Sanskrit as “victorious breath”. This is because Ujjayi breath is a method through which lungs, ribs and chest are expanded fully, similar to that of a victorious warrior.
It brings the practitioner a multitude of health benefits – it is known to help people who suffer from high blood pressure, chronic stress, heart disease insomnia and depression.
It is also often used during asanas. When slightly constricting the throat, a heat develops from inside and makes the body more flexible, During the physical practice, it also helps to improve concentration, as well as reduces distractions and allows the practitioner to remain self aware and focused in the practice.
The basic steps of Ujjayi are:
– Sit up straight
– Relax the shoulders, face and throat
– Keep the body straight and head straight
– Keep the mouth closed at all time. Only breathe through the nose.
– To create the Ujjayi breath, constrict the back of the throat, similar to the constriction made when speaking in a whisper.
– Upon inhalation, the chest comes out, the ribs open and stomach comes out.
– Upon exhalation, the stomach comes down, the ribs close, and the chest falls.
Some key things to take note during the Ujjayi breathing:
– The sound does not have to be too strong, but just audible to the practitioner.
– Inhalations and exhalations should be equal in duration, long and deep. For example, if you inhale for 10 seconds, try to exhale for 10 seconds too.
– The breaths should be as slow as possible.
– Although there is a constriction of the throat, the Ujjayi breath flows in and out through the nostrils, with the mouth remaining gently closed.
Practicing ujjayi breathing during asanas provides the strength to master each and every asana. One can also practice ujjayi outside of the yoga asana practice, as it brings the body into a very relaxed mode and helps relieve stress levels.