Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that means “one who is victorious;” so Ujjayi breath means “breath of victory” or “victorious breath.” This is because the technique brings a sense of uplifting, power, and confidence to the practitioner.
Integrating Ujjayi pranayama into your practice will deepen your experience both on and off the mat.
Whether you’re just starting out on your yoga journey or are an advanced practitioner, the Ujjayi breath is a powerful technique that you can use to transform your practice and deepen your experience both on the mat and off the mat.
Ujjayi breathing is quite unique because unlike some other forms of pranayama, or breathing exercises, it can be used during your moving asana practice, as well as whilst seated – adding a new dimension to your yoga practice.
To do Ujjayi breath, close your mouth and breathe deeply through the back of your sinuses. As you do so, gently contract the muscles at the back of the throat. Doing so will create the rhythmic, calming sound of ocean waves, or Darth Vader sound if you are a fan of Star Wars, which sooth and focus the mind.
Benefits of Ujjayi breath
Ujjayi Pranayama is both energising and relaxing as it sends fresh oxygen throughout the body. When practiced correctly it will create internal heat and give you an uplifting boost of energy. It’s also used to increase the flow of prana (life force energy) in the physical body. This form of pranayama creates friction in the throat which causes the breath to sound like ocean waves crashing on the beach. A focused Ujjayi breath can release tension and tight areas of the body.
You will notice that this type of breathing produces a sound. The purpose of It is that serves as a focal point during your practice, settling the fluctuations of the mind and bringing more awareness to the internal body, mind, and spirit. Thus, Ujjayi increases concentration while reminding one to surrender and find ease throughout the practice.
Additional benefits of Ujjayi pranayama include diminished pain from headaches, relief of sinus pressure, decrease in phlegm, and strengthening the nervous and digestive systems.
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.
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 your practice. The ancient yogis understood the intimate connection between the breath and the mind.