Breathing is something we all do, and yet most of us don't give it much thought. But what if you could breathe better? What if you could feel more energetic, deal with stress easier, and even sleep better? It sounds too good to be true but ujjayi breathing can help with all those things. Ujjayi breathing is a type of breathwork that has been used for centuries in yoga practice.
In the previous blog post, we talked about how yoga can help you get better sleep where I briefly mentioned “Ujjayi Breathing” Pranayama as one of the essential bedtime yoga practices. Today we will explore the ancient art of Ujjayi breathing in detail, it’s benefits, method, and meaning.
Meaning of “Ujjayi Breathing”
In Sanskrit, the word “Ujjayi” comes from the word “Ujji” which means “to be victorious”, thus ujjayi means “one who is victorious” and ujjayi breathing can be translated to the “breathe of victory”. Essentially it's an advanced form of breath control that can help you to achieve a deep meditative state when done properly.
Ujjayi Breathing is known by many names including ocean breathing, snake breathing, whispering breathing, snoring breathing, and ujjayi pranayama.
Why you should try it?
Ujjayi Breathing, or "Ocean Breath" is a type of breathwork that can help you relax and focus on your breathing rather than stressful thoughts. It makes you calm by helping you override the thoughts that distract you from your meditative state.
Unlike some other pranayama which has to be done in a seated position, Ujjayi Pranayama can be used while performing asanas. It creates a sound that assists you in synchronizing your movements with your breath while performing asanas.
Ujjayi breathing influences the entire cardio-respiratory system and nervous system. When one performs ujjayi breathing, they make use of the unused capacity of the lungs resulting in higher oxygen transfer. It is like a massage for the internal organs and makes the core warm by producing internal heat caused by friction of the air passing through the throat and lungs. In fact, some Olympic runners are known to include Ujjayi in their training routines for respiratory efficiency and for relieving pre-race anxiety.
Some other benefits of Ujjayi breathing are:
1.It improves concentration
2.It releases tension through the body.
3.It helps with sleep disturbances.
4.It helps in reducing anxiety
5.It helps people suffering from hypothyroidism by improving pulmonary function.
Practicing Ujjayi Breathing
Ujjayi breathing is described as one of the most important pranayamas described in the Hatha yoga Pradipika, an authoritative text on hatha yoga. To properly perform Ujjayi breathing, the breath should be digra (long) and sukshma (smooth), this allows the air to reach all the cells in your lungs.
Here are the steps you need to know to perform Ujjayi Pranayama:
1. Keep your mouth closed
2. Constrict your throat to the point that your breathing makes a rushing noise, almost
3. Control your breath using your diaphragm
4. Try to keep your inhalation and exhalation equal in duration.
To learn these asanas from an expert teacher and practice yoga with the aim to build strength, don't forget to take a look at our schedule for live yoga classes and join in!