“Ujjayibreath (the yogic science of breath) increases your endurance and makes you feel more energetic. It also improves memory and soothes the nerves”
This particular style of is said to enhance and empower a Yoga practice, with an English translation meaning “to become victorious” or “to gain mastery.”
To create the Ujjayi. breath, one must constrict the back of the throat, similar to the constriction made when speaking in a whisper. Therefore, it is an audible breathe that is often compared to the sound of the ocean. Although there is a constriction of the throat, the Ujjayi. breath flows in and out through the nostrils, with the lips remaining gently closed.
It is important to remember that the key to Ujjayi breathing is relaxation; the action of Ujjayi naturally lengthens the breath. Some small effort is required to produce a pleasing sound, but too much effort creates a grasping quality and a grating sound. Generally, it is the inhalation that presents the greater challenge. So begin by practicing on the exhalation where there is a natural letting go process.
To practice the inhalation, focus on creating a soothing and pleasing sound that is unhurried and unforced. I suggest working on your Ujjayi breathing in a seated, relaxed cross-legged position. Imagine sipping the breath in through a straw. If the suction is too strong the straw collapses and great force is required to suck anything through it. Once Ujjayi breathing is mastered in a seated position, the challenge is to maintain the same quality of breathing throughout your asana practice.
Throughout your practice, try to maintain the length and smoothness of the breath as much as possible. Once you find a baseline Ujjayi breath in a pose that is not too strenuous (Downward Facing Dog for example), endeavor to maintain that quality of breath throughout the practice. Some asanas require great effort, and you may begin to strain in your breath. If you are straining in your breath, you may be pushing yourself too hard in your practice. Use that feedback as a guide throughout your practice—if you start to strain, it may be time to back out of a pose and rest.
Some yogis argue that Ujjayi. should not be practiced in asana (physical postures), and prefer a normal breath. Consequently, some yogis believe the Ujjayi comes natural when the postures are deeply understood, and shouldn’t be focused on until such mastery of asana is attained. Yet, in a Vinyasa style of, the Ujjayi is emphasized as a way to link the breath with the movement, as Vinyasa yoga is based on breath-synchronized. There are several important attributes of this form of pranayama, which declare Why We Ujjayi…
1. Improves concentration in the physical practice. Becoming absorbed in Ujjayi allows the practitioner to remain in poses for longer periods of time.
2. Instills endurance that enhances a flowing practice by lending a meditative quality that maintains the rhythm of the class.
3. It diminishes distractions and allows the practitioner to remain self aware and grounded in the practice.
4. Ujjayi breath regulates heating of the body. The friction of the air passing through the lungs and throat generates internal body heat. It is similar to a massage for the internal organs; as the core becomes warm from the inside, the body becomes prepared for the asana practice. This heat makes stretching safer while the inner organs can be cleansed of any toxins that have accumulated.
5. A focused Ujjayi breath can release tension and tight areas of the body.
6. Additional benefits of Ujjayi pranayama include diminished pain from headaches, relief of sinus pressure, decrease in phlegm, and strengthening of the nervous and digestive systems.
7. Ujjayi tells us when we need to surrender into a resting posture, as the breath should remain as even and smooth in the postures as when we rest. It allows us to practice honesty in our practice, taking a step back to let go of our ego.
8. Ujjayi allows us to practice full deep breaths during the challenges of a physical practice. Therefore, we can stay just as equanimous when faced with the challenges of our daily lives.
When listened to, your breath can be your true teacher, guiding you in a myriad of ways. The ancient yogis realized the intimate connection between the breath and the mind. Hopefully, this makes sense, and you will consider this pranayama in your practice. To better understand and incorporate Ujjayi breathing into your yoga practice, consult an experienced teacher near you.
How to practice :
Ujjayi is especially known for the soft hissing sound the breather makes by directing her inhales and exhales over the back of her throat. To learn how, try this:
1- Inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly through a wide-open mouth. Direct the out-going breath slowly across the back of your throat with a drawn-out HA sound. Repeat several times, then close your mouth. Now, as you both inhale and exhale through your nose, direct the breath again slowly across the back of your throat. Ideally, this will create, and you should hear, a soft hissing sound.
2- This sound, called ajapa mantra (pronounced ah-JOP-ah mahn-trah, the “unspoken mantra”), serves three purposes: it helps to slow the breath down (which is exactly what we want for Ujjayi), to focus awareness on the breath and prevent your min “wandering,” and to regulate, by continually monitoring and adjusting the evenness of the sound, the smooth flow of breath (another important element of Ujjayi).
3- Start with 5 to 8 minutes of practice, gradually increase your time to 10 to 15 minutes. When finished return to normal breathing for a minute or two, then lie down in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) for a few minutes.
Ujjayi is the foundation of many other techniques listed on this site; e.g., ratio breathing, svara yoga, digital pranayama, retention along with the two bandhas. Note that Ajapa Mantra isn’t used when performing digital pranayama.