Ujjayi is a breathing technique or pranayama that focuses on the energy of the human body, to increase and channel it. It has a strong link with yogic practice, in which it is called “warrior’s breath”. It has the quality of bringing peace and energy to those who practice it.
The breath is a natural act of the body that is often overlooked and simply forget to do it and even more, to spend time with the very act of breathing.
Unfortunately, not breathing correctly and consciously, prevents us from knowing the benefits that this act represents for our physical and mental health; mainly when we combine it with exercises like yoga.
Fans of this discipline know the importance of coordinating breathing with the sequence of the different postures required by this practice for a better quality of life.
In this article we want to nourish you with some tips based on the ujjayi breathing technique and the benefits that you can acquire once you make it part of life.
In this article you can read:
- 1 What is ujjayi breathing?
- 2 Features
- 3 How to breathe ujjayi?
- 4 Internalization
- 5 Benefits of ujjayi breathing
- 6 Mechanical and physiological effects
- 7 Ujjayi breathing and yoga
- 8 Conclusion
What is ujjayi breath?
“Ujjayi” is a pranayama technique that aims to increase, purify and distribute energy throughout the energetic structure of the throat . Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that means “victorious.” For yogis, it is also called “warrior’s breath.”
See also: Learn step by step how to do the warriors in your yoga practice
The term “Ujjayi” refers to the sound of air friction that is obtained by contracting the glottis while practicing inspiration and expiration. During this process, the resistance and the reduction of the air passage give rise to the characteristic sound of “Ujjayi”.
This practice is used in almost all yoga postures and breathing techniques , but can also be performed independently.
This breathing technique is characterized by emanating a little hoarse noise, which is caused by the glottis. Another very special characteristic of this breathing technique is that inspiration and expiration are carried out through the nose, keeping the mouth closed. Additionally, the exercise requires that both inhalation and exhalation must have the same length, the same calm and the same strength. This breathing technique requires concentration, but it is not difficult to achieve.
The constant practice of this technique becomes innate and very natural, which makes us become aware of our breathing. This breathing technique, which also belongs to pranayama, is particularly energizing; This energy is converted into heat and during the practice, abundant perspiration is emitted, by means of which toxins are eliminated to purify the body. This effect is a specific characteristic of Ashtanga Yoga .
How to breathe ujjayi?
The first step in mastering Ujjayi breathing is to practice full diaphragmatic breathing. That is, we breathe deeply, to the point that the diaphragm pushes the stomach to inflate it during inspiration. Similarly, the abdomen contracts to put pressure on the diaphragm and expel all the air from the lungs during exhalation.
The second step and the secret of reaching perfection through the Ujjayi breathing technique consists of the slight contraction of the glottis to restrict the flow of air towards the larynx. Ujjayi allows you to breathe slowly and deeply, reaching even a minute’s breath, without the feeling of being out of air. With this, some internal states of meditation are achieved, each time higher.
To do the Ujjayi breathing practice, follow these steps:
- Sit in the lotus pose or cross-legged, with your hands on your knees, your back straight, and your eyes closed.
- Breathe in slowly, breathe in deeply through your nose, and breathe out slowly through your mouth, releasing all tension.
- Then begin to close your mouth during exhalation, maintaining the same rhythm as your breath. Similarly, release all tension from your body.
Now place your tongue at the back of your mouth; This will help you block your glottis in the throat.
- Once you manage to block your glottis, you will be able to hear a small noise during the exhalation, like a kind of snoring. Keep in mind that the sound has to come from your throat and not from your nose.
- Try to maintain the position of your throat, tongue, and glottis during inspiration. The same noise should occur during inspiration and expiration.
- Expiration is often longer than inspiration, that’s normal at first.
- Now contract your pelvic base and stomach to create more energy. Breathing must be done from the solar plexus.
- Your breathing should not be through the stomach, since it must remain contracted. You also shouldn’t hold your breath.
- Rest in this position and hold the Ujjayi breath for 5 cycles of inspiration and expiration.
- At this end point, you should be able to feel your body temperature slowly rising.
- Perform a minimum of 10 cycles of breaths.
- Relax your neck and breathe naturally for 1 minute.
- Repeat 4-5 full cycles.
- Then you can stop to breathe naturally for 2 minutes.
- Ujjayi should be practiced daily for five to ten minutes.
During the exercise, your concentration should remain on:
- The constant passage of air through the nostrils.
- The brush of air on the glottis.
Benefits of ujjayi breathing
- Mentally, practicing this “Ujjayi” technique brings a lot of peace and tranquility. It is possible to access a state of interiority, without any tension.
- In the realm of energy, “Ujjayi” is exhilarating.
- Purify all energies.
- We change our vibrational frequencies providing more energy and a good mental state.
- We adopt good posture of the spine.
- It promotes all processes of cleaning and elimination of toxins accumulated in the respiratory tract.
- Physically, “Ujjayi” allows to easily expand the breath, which generates benefits on cardiovascular activity, gas exchange, blood parameters, and all metabolic activity.
- Ujjayi breathing is an effective method of stress relief during emergencies.
- After taking a few weeks of practice, it is perfectly possible to use the ujjayi breathing technique at other times where we expose ourselves to stressful situations, whose emotions, we are generally unable to control.
Mechanical and physiological effects
The interest of Ujjayi breathing is to strengthen the muscles of breathing and to enhance pranic healing techniques through gas exchange .
The partial blockage of the glottis translates into an increase in negative intrathoracic pressure during inspiration, which significantly increases the effect of aspiration on the pulmonary venous circulation.
Upon completion, intrapulmonary pressure is increased, which helps maintain the dilation and elasticity of the lungs.
Ujjayi breathing and yoga
In many forms of yoga, each posture-changing movement is linked to inspiration and expiration, so the Ujjayi breath is helpful in establishing a rhythm for yoga postures.
Since the breath is naturally concentrated and leads to an extensive breathing cycle, yoga practitioners can fully concentrate on one movement and one position during inhalation and exhalation.
Inhalation can be considered one of the body’s energy and power developments, while exhalation can serve as a tool in a position of deep relaxation.
Many experienced yogis claim that ujjayi breathing has many benefits. Some believe that the “Warrior’s Breath” helps carry more oxygen in the body and promotes cleansing of the body’s organs through better oxygenation.
Additionally, regular practice can benefit muscle tone in the throat, lungs, and diaphragm.
Whether calm or panting, deep or ragged, breathing always reflects our emotional state. At the interface of the conscious and the unconscious, breathing activity through the ujjayi breathing technique offers us the best way to connect with our mind and body.
“Inhaling, I calm my body and I breathe out, I smile, I live and I recognize all the wonder of the moment.” The great master thich nhat hanh.