Ujjayi Pranayama (ooh-JAH-yee prah-nah-YAH-mah) is one technique that helps calm the mind and warm the body. When practicing Ujjayi, you completely fill your lungs, while slightly contracting your throat, and breathe through your nose. This breathing technique is used throughout Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga practices.
Ujjayi breath regulates heating of the body. The friction of the air passing through the lungs and throat generates internal body heat. It is similar to a massage for the internal organs; as the core becomes warm from the inside, the body becomes prepared for the asana practice.
Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body. With Ujjayi, there are so many benefits, providing good value for a simple practice. Here are a few benefits you may enjoy:
– Slows the pace of the breath, which is said to improve longevity.
– Cleanses and refreshes the nadis (subtle channels of the body
– Infuses the mind-body with fresh prana (vital life force)
– Promotes mental clarity and focus.
– Enhances memory.
– Bolsters the immune system.
– Improves skin color and complexion.
If you’re having trouble getting the right sound for your breath, try this:
With your mouth open, try exhaling the sound “HAAAAH”—it’s similar to the sound you make when you’re trying to fog up a mirror. Get comfortable with this sound to get the hang of the practice.
Close your mouth and attempt a similar sound, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the in-flow breath, gently constricting the back of your throat as you inhale.
Breathwork is crucial to the state of your mind. Your breath can help work you up or calm you down. Your breath can be a tool for consciousness, if you are tuned in!
The breath is a powerful force: it is the only autonomous system of the body that can also be consciously controlled! The next time you feel stressed, draw your attention toward your breath. Is your breath short and labored? Are you holding your breath? Practice Ujjayi breathing for a moment and note any changes to your mood or mindset.
Allow your breath to guide you, calm you, and move you. Conscious breathwork will improve your yoga and meditation practices – and give you an option when you feel overwhelmed. Your breath is the connection between your mind and body – and vice versa. Create union between your breath and body – on and off the mat – and watch positive transformation unfold.