Ujjāyī Prānāyāma- victory breath

Ujjāyī (उज्जायी), means “one who is victorious”. Ujjāyī breath means “victorious breath. Also referred to as the psychic breath because of its positive effects on the mind. You might know it as ocean breath as the sound this breath makes is like the water gently lapping against the ocean shores.

Seat

  1. This breath can be performed while moving, standing, walking or sitting.
  2. Sit comfortably on the yoga mat using props or in a chair for seated practice.

Technique

  1. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the sensation of the breath in and out through the nostrils.
  2. Imagine there a small opening or a constriction in your throat where the breath is being released making a soft whispering or hushing sound.
  3. Whisper ‘ha’ with an open mouth to feel the sensation in your throat.
  4. Then close your mouth and continue to produce the soft ‘ha’ sound. This time the sound will not be loud as the mouth is not open, but you should feel the sound being produced in your throat in a soft whisper.
  5. Although there is a constriction of the throat, the Ujjāyī breath, you may also notice passive flow in and out through the nostrils, with the lips gently closed.
  6. This hushing sound you hear on both inhale and exhale isUjjāyī Breath.
  7. One inhale and one exhale of this breath is considered one round. You can begin with 5 rounds. This seated practice is Ujjāyī Prānāyāma .
  8. You can slowly build up your practice to 10-20 rounds. When you are ready to modify or have questions about your practice, please find a yoga instructor who has a long standing personal Prānāyāma practice to guide you.

Practice tips

  1. Breath should be long (Dīrgha), and smooth (Sūkśma).
  2. The sound of the breath should be audible to the practitioner, so you can experience its soothing and energizing effects.
  3. Cover your ears to it hear it louder – noticing that it sounds like the ocean as it reverberates through your head.
  4. Become comfortable with Ujjāyī Breath in a seated practice before using during āsana practice.
  5. The tongue may be placed upward lightly touching the roof of the mouth in Jihva Mudra (tongue seal) or resting lightly in the center of the mouth.
  6. Train the ears to concentrate on the sound of the breath making it a Pratyahara (5th Limb of Rāja Yòga) practice.
  7. Focus on finding a sense of relaxation and harmony than on the effortful performance of the breathing technique.
  8. This breath can be practiced anywhere, anytime.
  9. You may feel dryness in the throat initially. Please hydrate.

When can you use Ujjāyī  Breath

When you’re agitated, angry, restless: Since the this breath is good for relieving agitation, try Ujjāyī  breath whenever you are aggravated or stressed. You may notice a soothing effect.

When you’re nervous or anxious: The slow and rhythmic nature of the Ujjāyi breath is helpful to calm nerves. Next time you find yourself anxious try this breath to soothe yourself.

When you’re tired, lethargic, sleepy: This breath is also energizing, so use it to revitalize your energy and improve your alertness and concentration.

When you’re practicing āsana , poses: Try focusing on Ujjāyī breathing while practicing āsana, pose to help you stay focused as you flow from one posture to the next. Becoming absorbed in Ujjāyī allows you to remain in the āsana comfortably for longer periods of time.

When you perform daily seated practice: Ujjāyī breath is an integral part of seated Prānāyāma, breathing practice. It trains the senses to go inward reducing distractions in order to prepare the mind for meditation.

Benefits

Physical/Physiological

  • reduces postnasal drip
  • clears sinuses, detoxifies the body
  • trains the senses (Pratyahara – 5th Limb of Rāja Yòga) to go inwards
  • increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and is energizing
  • builds internal body heat which relaxes the muscles allowing them to move safely in āsana, reducing the risk for injuries
  • regulates blood pressure

Emotional/Spiritual

  • Calming and soothing, relieves tension and anxiety
  • Quiets the nervous system and calms the mind
  • Diminishes distractions and increases feeling of self-awareness
  • Allows you to remain present and grounded in the practice
  • Prepares the mind for concentration (Dharana – 6th limb of Rāja Yoga)

My Practice

Realizing the deep connection between the breath and the mind, Yogis urge us to practice this breath everyday to help us stay alert, energetic and equanimous when faced with everyday chores or challenging interactions in our daily lives. This is where I need most help – to catch the triggers before they have been activated, and to transform destructive, habituated thought patterns into a constructive ones.
Ujjāyi breath has been an indispensable tool for my health and to manage my behaviors.
  • Because of Ujjāyī Prānāyāma , I have significant decrease in postnasal drip. Along with Dhirgha and Kapalabhaathi Prānāyāma , I am able to manage my seasonal allergies effectively.
  • Ujjāyī allows me to practice deep breaths during āsana, poses and to be mindful through the challenges of a physical (vinyasa – sequencing) practice.
  • Ujjāyī practice has also helped me go deeper in poses with a feeling of surrender. It is a reminder that I am constantly and compassionately guided to perform these movements, and to take a step back and observe my ego in action.
My practice is definitely a work in progress. I rely on this breath to guide me everyday, one interaction at a time.

*************************************

Rama, Swami., Ballentine, Rudolf. M.D. 1978. Science of Breath. Himalayan Institute, Honesdale, PA

3 thoughts on “Ujjāyī Prānāyāma- victory breath

  1. Pingback: surya namaskar abhyasa – yogajivan

  2. Asha

    Always learn something new Mythri, in addition to Yoga.
    Didn’t know that Sukshma means smooth- thought it meant sensitive, delicate.
    Great tips for daily practice.

    Liked by 1 person

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