Get Your Ujjayi On
Friday, January 5, 2018
Ujjayi Pranayama Sanskrit translation: Ujjayi: Victory over Pranayama: Prana – life force, breath; Yama – control, restraint, regulation
Yoga breathing involves powerful diaphragmatic activity and is meant to uplift you. Coordinated yoga breath, one in which inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose, is called ujjayi. Ujjayi breath, also called “the ocean breath” or “victorious breath,” actually makes a sound that you can hear. The sound is similiar to ocean waves flowing in and out. The “ocean sound” is created when the glottis (the opening between your vocal folds) moves as air passes in and out. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm and the inhalations and exhalations should be equal in duration. This control is the purpose of ujjayi and should help to sooth the entire nervous system. Ujjayi breath should be practiced during physical asana, during meditation, or whenever you need to produce a calming effect for your mind/body.
Ujjayi Pranayama can help to relieve headaches and sinus pressure by clearing the lungs and nasal passages. In addition, it improves circulation by flexing your diaphragm and pushing oxygen throughout your belly and body. In fact, a clinical study from the Department of Neurophysiology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India found Ujjayi Pranayama can increase your oxygen consumption during practice by about 50 percent and has proven to be an effective remedy against diseases of the respiratory system.
Quick Tip: Both inhalation and exhalation should be done through the nostrils only. Keep a closed mouth. The inhalation should fill the back of the nasal cavity, as well as the throat. During exhalation, imagine you are saying the word “ha” without the “a,” and feel the breath rubbing against your frontal sinuses as it leaves the body. You should feel a slight friction and release.