The Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) breath is an ancient yogic pranayama technique that is essentially a mindful way to link breath with movement, typically done during asana practice. Pranayama is the forth of the eight limbs of yoga as taught by Patanjali over 2,000 years ago; which I interpret to mean mindful use of your life force; the breath. Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that means victorious and once you harness your Victorious breath, you quickly understand its power.
- Improved Concentration – Why focus on those nagging thoughts that can wait until after class or what others are doing in class when you are listening to the sound of your victorious breath move you throughout this space and time? You’ll feel more present and aware of your body during your Ujjayi breathing.
- Movement Mediation – Keen focus on your breath will bring a certain level of stillness and peace, yes, even within a flowing asana practice. Soon parts of your practice will develop a meditative quality that keeps your grounded well after you leave class.
- Tension & Stress Relief – With focused breathing the practitioner is able to release tight areas of the body and relax the mind. This works off the mat too. Use it during any stressful situation — I’m about to use mine now since my kids can’t stop arguing while I type.
- Enhanced Endurance – Instill the ability to maintain your rhythm within a vinyasa practice with steadiness and ease of breath.
- Internal Warming and Detoxification – As you constrict the back of the throat and inhale through the nose, the friction of air traveling to the lungs generates interneal body heat. As your body warms from the inside, the body is better prepared for asana practice. This heat also acts as a massaging mechanism for the internal organs that can assist with decreasing phlegm, and strengthening the nervous and digestive systems.
- Seal your lips and start to breath in and out through your nose.
- Take an inhalation through your nose that is slightly deeper than normal.
- Exhale slowly through your nose while constricting the muscles in the back of your throat.
- Keep your throat gently constricted as you Inhale slowly through the nose.
- Continue until the end of practice or until you feel your mind and energy more focused.