• 8 July 2014

Ujjayi breathing

Flowing yoga classes, especially done in heated rooms, are very popular. The heat makes the body more pliable and the Ujjayi breath creates the flow. A lot of the classes I attended provided a nice sequence of postures but the heavy breathing was a bit overwhelming… So I thought I would clarify what Ujjayi breathing is really about.

The Ujjayi breathe should be energising, balancing and calming.

It increases oxygenation, builds internal body heat, encourages prana (energy) flow, regulates blood pressure, strengthens the diaphragm, improves concentration and creates the rhythm of the practice. So worth practising correctly!

The inhalation and exhalation are controlled, of equal length and smooth. The breath is gently constricting the opening of the throat so you can control the flow of breath. Like a garden hose, letting pass only a trickle of water. The effort is more mental than physical. At first the breathe might be quite short but as you practice, the breathe will lengthen and you will eventually find your own rhythm to suit your practice.

Practice Ujjayi first on its own then holding asanas then moving from one asana to the next.

Inhalation: imagine breathing through a straw not sniffing, keeping the nostrils relaxed.

Exhalation: imagine slowly fogging up your glasses with the mouth closed.

It should sound like a whisper not Darth Vader when practising on your own and like an ocean when sharing the practice with other students in a class. The sound is for you to hear. Concentrating on your internal sound helps you not to be distracted by external noises, helps you stay present, self-aware and grounded.

The challenge is to maintain the rhythm and smoothness of the breath during the entire practice. When you strain the breath, you strain the body and mind.

I like this demo I found on you tube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRb56apRa40