Ujjayi Pranayama

Victory Breath (Ocean Breath)

Ud means upward or expanding and Jaya means conquest or success. Ujjayi pranayama is often translated to victory breath because the lungs and chest expand out like a mighty conqueror. Ujjayi breathing is deep breathing with a slight constriction of the throat.

Instructions

  1. Ujjayi breath can be practiced seated or during asana (typically only in vinyasa flow unless otherwise directed).
  2. Begin to deepen the breath and feel the expansion of the chest and ribs as the breath travels up and down the throat.
  3. The inhale sounds like “sssss”
  4. The exhale sounds like “hhhhh”.

Advancing the Practice

Add the retentions starting with antara kumbhaka (retention of inhale) and then move on to bahya kumbhaka (retention of exhale).

Effects:

  • Oxygenates the lungs and blood
  • Brings prana to the tissues
  • Reduces phlegm
  • Reduces chest pain
  • Soothes and tones the nervous system
  • According to B.K.S. Iyengar, “the voice becomes melodious.”

Notes:

  • The breath should be smooth and not jerky or harsh.
  • Avoid over exaggerating the sound of the breath. Keep it smooth, soft and calm.
  • Some compare this breath to the waves of the ocean, rolling in and out. Keep the waves calm and steady not turbulent and stormy.

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.
Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.

Krishnamacharya
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