Want to unwind and invigorate your mind and body at the same time? An ancient yogic breathing method known as Ujjayi could be the trick. Learn how to breathe appropriately and put it into practice.
What is Ujjayi Breathing?
Ujjayi Pranayama, commonly known as a breath-control method, is a gentle, whispering breath characterised as victorious or ocean breath. It’s like the sound of wind through the woods or waves crashing on the shore.
In its etymological context, “Ujjayi”, pronounced as oo-jai) is derived from the Sanskrit prefix “ud” and the suffix. “Ujji” is a Sanskrit term that signifies “victory.” “Ud” denotes “bondage” or “binding,” but also “upward” and “expanding,” implying a sense of empowerment and upliftment. “Jaya” represents “victory” or “acquire by conquering.” Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word meaning “victorious”; thus, Ujjayi breath translates “victorious breath”.
The enlargement of the abdomen and chest throughout this style of breath boosts one’s ego in a way that reminds one of a triumphant warrior. It can also refer to the process of mastering something. Ujjayi pranayama is about breaking free from enslavement on a more significant or more profound level.
Since the flow of air in the glottis (throat) mimics the sounds of ocean waves, Ujjayi breathing is also described as “the ocean breath” in yoga. The breathing technique is suitable for students of all levels, from beginner to expert, as it increases body heat and promotes relaxation. In a way, the Hatha yoga practice is enriched, empowered, and deepened.
How to Practice Ujjayi Pranayama
The classical Yoga literature Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes Ujjayi as one of the most fundamental pranayamas. Unlike many other varieties of pranayama, which are generally done in a sitting position, Ujjayi breath can be used in conjunction with asana practice. It helps us combat exhaustion, tension, and negativity by allowing more prana, or life energy, to permeate our system. We can experience tranquil, concentrated, powerful fighters practicing yoga with this breath on our mats. As you shift into your yoga postures, treat each breath with regard and accept it as an honoured guest.
The Ujjayi breathing exercise is done in three steps and with three distinct hand movements in the yoga physical practice to move prana or life force towards the lower lobes, middle lobes, and upper lobes of the lungs fully expanding and utilising both lungs.
Ujjayi is made by gradually restricting the opening of the throat to produce some obstruction to the air passage. The sound of crashing waves flowing in and out is created by pulling back the breath as you begin breathing and lightly pushing the breath out as you exhale against this resistance.
Benefits of the Ujjayi Breath Technique
Ujjayi has a balanced effect on the general cardiorespiratory system, relieves aggravation and impatience, and aids in the present-moment relaxation of the body and mind. There are numerous benefits to practising breath control with each yoga poses, making it a worthwhile investment. Practising the Ujjayi breath can provide you with several advantages:
It increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood.
It generates internal body heat.
Tension is relieved
Allows prana to circulate freely.
It controls blood pressure.
Assists yoga practitioners in maintaining a steady rhythm during their practice.
It generates energy.
Detoxifies both the mind and the body
Presence, self-awareness, and meditation traits are all enhanced.
How Does Ujjayi Breathing Help Your Vinyasa Yoga Practice?
Provides Timely, Helpful Feedback
Listening to the body came before smartwatches. The earliest feedback device was, in fact, breath. It will inform you if you are working too hard or not hard enough if you pay heed to it. It will also show you how calm you are and how much work you’re investing into your exercise. For example, if you’re panting and gasping, you’re probably overworking yourself. The ability to practice Ujjayi in a smooth, continuous manner is our test in yoga.
Brings You Back to the Present
Focusing on your breath takes you into the present moment. Breathing is always done in real-time. For this reason, it is utilised as a meditation tool in which the objective is to be attentively present. Your asana practice can become a “moving meditation” if you use Ujjayi breath.
Relaxes the Mind
Calming your mind is as simple as managing your breath. People know this intuitively because we say things to “take a deep breath” when stressed. Yoga students have recognised the mind-body connection for millennia.
Stabilises the Body
The Ujjayi method causes your glottis to contract. Leslie Kaninoff, Yoga Anatomy, explains how this prompts your body to spend extra muscular effort and develops a “sort of backpressure throughout the abdominal and thoracic chambers.” It provides a stabilising impact that can help support the motions in a flow yoga practice.
Regulates the Nervous System
Ujjayi has a calming influence on the nervous system since it stimulates your vagus nerve. It reduces anxiety and may have a beneficial effect on depression.
4 Easy Steps Into the Basics of Ujjayi
Close your eyes and sit tall, shoulders loosened away from your ears, like in the Easy Pose (Sukhasana). To get ready, start by becoming aware of your breathing without attempting to control it. If you’ve been breathing through your nose, begin inhaling and exhaling through your mouth.
Pay attention to the back of your throat. Proceed to tighten the back of your throat, often called the glottis or soft palate, on exhales, gradually restricting airflow. Assume you’re misting up a pair of eyeglasses. A gentle hissing sound should be heard. When you’re satisfied with the exhale, try applying the same throat tension to the inhales.
Close your mouth and commence breathing through your nose once you can control your throat on both inhalation and exhalation. Persist in toning the throat in the same way you did when your mouth was open. This is ujjayi breath, which makes a noise as it enters and exits the nostrils.
Begin to use this breathing practice in your exercise now. Adopt an ujjayi inhale if our yoga instructors instruct you to shift on an inhale. Recall this breath and use it whenever you need a little more help sustaining a pose.
Breathe Deeply and Freely Into Your Vinyasa Practice
When combined with the Ujjayi breath, Vinyasa yoga can help the body and mind in several aspects, notably physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual. Keep in mind to take things slowly. As you improve your breath control, rely on your previous experience. Employing the practice in our leading yoga centre Singapore, you will begin to express your mind as you rest and breathe intentionally but naturally.