Whether you have taken a Heated Yoga class with us or in your own community, you have most likely been cued to breathe your “Ujjayi breath.” Ujjayi breath is considered a type of pranayama. Pranayama is a controlled breath typically used in yoga & meditation. There are several pranayama variations.
In today's blog, we are going to discuss how to begin breathing Ujjayi breath or how to deepen your existing Ujjayi breathing technique!
What does Ujjayi mean?
Ujjayi is pronounced as: oo-jai-ee. Ujjayi originates from the yogic language of Sanskrit. In the simplest manner, Ujjayi translates as “Victorious Breath.” This breath is used to become victorious or gain mastery in alignment with the asana (yoga) practice. When performed correctly, the sound of the Ujjayi breath has been compared to the sound of the ocean, desert wind, & even Darth Vader!
Why is it important to practice Ujjayi breath during yoga?
Ujjayi breath works to heat the body from the inside out. Creating internal heat using Ujjayi breath helps open & warm up the body in a more efficient & controlled manner. The breath also serves to create a meditative quality in your yoga practice. That oceanic sound of the breath is quite audible, when performed correctly, & can aid in keeping your focus on your practice as you listen to the soothing sound of your breath.
This breath also slows down the entry & exit speed of inhalations & exhalations from the body. Ujjayi is performed with a constriction of the muscles at the back of the throat. This narrows the physical passageway the breath is allowed to come in & out of. The slower speed of the Ujjayi breath develops a mental state of “tend & befriend” versus “flight, fight, or freeze.”
How do I create Ujjayi breath in my body?
We’ll begin with some practices breaths first. Our practice Ujjayi breath will work non-traditionally as the inhales will arrive through the nose & the exhales will exit through the mouth. The open mouth exhales will help create an exaggerated sound of Ujjayi breath & also create the throat constriction we are looking to develop. As you exhale, imagine you are fogging a handheld mirror or lenses on a pair of glasses. Really use your throat muscles to create an audible exhale. This action will help you understand how to constrict your throat muscles.
Now, practice the inhales and exhales through the nostrils only. You will continue to practice that throat constriction you just tried out with the open mouth exhales. With the breath only entering & exiting through the nostrils while you are constricting the muscles at the back of the throat you should be able to hear that ocean/desert wind/Darth Vader sound. This is your Ujjayi breath! Try it out, whether you’re brand new to Ujjayi breath or are ready to try on a new perspective with it. We look forward to seeing you (& hearing you!) next time you’re at the studio.