Ujjayi Breath

Prana is Sanskrit meaning Breath, the breath of life, vital energy, life force. Earlier today, I asked you to notice your breath as you go about your day. You should continue noticing your breath, whenever you think of it. This is an excellent way to bring mindfulness to your day. Checking in with your breath frequently can help ensure you remember to breath deeply and exhale completely.

While on the topic of breathing, I would like to introduce you to a Yogic breathing technique called Ujjayi breathing. This practice is both calming and energizing. Pronounced “oo-jai“, the Ujjayi breath is commonly referred to as the oceanic breath and is often used in Hatha yoga to help synchronize the breath with movement. The name oceanic breath comes from ashtanga yoga where the breath is described as sounding like ocean waves breaking and receding on the beach. I read somewhere, Ujjayi is translated as “Victory Breath” but I am unable to locate my source for this translation.

This practice has many benefits:

  • Oxygenates the blood
  • Increased energy to the body
  • Detoxifying to the mind and Body
  • Relives Tension
  • Increased focus
  • Creates internal body heat (Energy)
  • Regulates Blood Pressure

Ujjayi Breath Exercise

Sit symmetrically, in a comfortable position with your back straight

Take a deep breath

As you exhale, make the Haaa sound

Try making the same sound when you inhale

Once you have mastered this, try doing it with your mouth closed. Practice this breath with your mouth closed whispering the haaa sound on both inhale and exhale. (Think of fogging up a mirror when you exhale, to get the sensation down, then add the haaa sound)

Slightly constrict your throat in order to continue making the haaa sound while inhaling.

To me, the correct breath sounds similar to like just before a snore. Get comfortable making this sound. Close your eyes, envision waves building and crashing on the shore, can you hear this in your breath?

Just as the sound of the ocean is relaxing to the nervous system, the Ujjayi breath can provide an instant calming effect. Whenever we need to calm overstimulated emotions, we can practice the Ujjayi Breath and instantly be soothed, grounded, centered and focused.

Try to extend your inhale and exhale for 5-counts each

Repeat this process at least three times, taking 5 count inhalations and 5 count exhalations each time.

Notice how your body responds to this type of breathing. Pay attention to how many breaths it takes before you begin to notice a change. How many breaths does it take to calm the oceans of your emotions? How many breaths does it take until you have control of both thought and action? Listen to the ocean in your breath for a few minutes, until you feel yourself relax…

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