Today we are sharing a breathing technique taught in our Yoga Teacher Training programs! It is commonly used during yoga practice and meditation. It can also be a great way to start your day, recharge midday, and unwind at the end of the day.
It is the Ujjayi Breath or Victorious Breath. Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) breath creates a sound that helps synchronize the movements with the breath during a yoga practice. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both long and smooth.
Begin by sitting tall and comfortably and you can close the eyes for more focus. Start to take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, start to exhale like you are trying to fog up a mirror. Continue breathing like this. Notice the contraction you are creating in the back of your throat. Half way through your next exhale, begin to close your mouth while still exhaling like you are trying to fog up a mirror.
Now you are breathing only through your nose. Try to keep the constriction in the back of your throat while you breathe. You will eventually create the constriction on your inhales too. If you are straining to do this, keep practicing. Over time, you will create a smooth, relaxed breath.
Your breath should now sound like ocean waves or a bit like Darth Vader breathing. The sound you hear, as the breath moves through your throat, will give you something to focus on other than your thoughts. This helps bring you into the present moment. It also helps you get out of your head and into your body.
See if you can get the inhales to be nice and deep. Try to bring the inhale breath into the low belly area. See if you can get your exhales to be long by slowing your breathing down. Allow your low belly to draw back towards the spine on each exhale.
Begin to let go of other thoughts and focus on the sound your breath is creating. You can do this for ten or more breaths or for multiple minutes. Each time a thought pops into your head, let it go. Bring your awareness back to the sound of your breath. You can also do this lying down or in your favorite yoga pose.
Enjoy your deep breaths and this time spent in the present moment!
Some of the benefits of the Ujjayi Breath are:
- Helps quiet and focus the mind
- Warms your body up from the inside
- Massages internal organs
- Releases stress and tension
- Help relax AND energize your body & mind
- Increases oxygen in the blood
When you are in a yoga class or practicing at home, begin to notice how you can move your body with the sound of your breath. This breath can be used outside of your yoga practice too. This is great for when you are feeling irritated or frustrated. You will notice a decrease in your stress level.
Hopefully you already feel more relaxed after reading this and practicing this breath. Enjoy!
You can also learn more about using the power of yoga to help others as a yoga teacher.