Ujjayi Breath Made Simple: A Beginners Journey to Inner Calm

Ujjayi breath is an ancient yogic breathing technique that can help you find inner calm and enhance your yoga practice. As a beginner yogi, understanding ujjayi breath can benefit your practice by promoting physical and mental well-being and grounding you in the present moment. I

The definition of ujjayi breath

Ujjayi breath, also known as “victorious breath” or “oceanic breath,” is a foundational breathing technique used in yoga practice. It involves a specific way of breathing where you constrict the back of your throat slightly, creating a whispering or hissing sound as you exhale through your nose.

Ujjayi breath helps to regulate and deepen your breath, which is vital for any physical or mental activity, especially in yoga. By focusing on your breath, you bring awareness to your body and mind, allowing you to be fully present in your practice.

The audible sound produced by ujjayi breath serves as an anchor, helping to keep your mind focused and centered. It becomes a powerful tool for concentration, bringing your attention inward and helping you let go of distractions. With ujjayi breath, you create a rhythm that synchronizes with your movements, resulting in a harmonious and fluid practice.

Benefits of ujjayi breath

1. Deepens the Breath: One of the primary benefits of ujjayi breath is its ability to deepen and lengthen the breath. By consciously breathing in this manner, you can fully expand your lungs and draw in more oxygen. This helps to improve lung capacity, increase oxygen supply to the muscles, and enhance overall physical performance.

2. Enhances Focus and Concentration: Ujjayi breath acts as an anchor for your attention throughout your yoga practice. By paying close attention to the sound and rhythm of your breath, you can bring your mind into the present moment, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in each pose. This deep concentration helps to cultivate mindfulness, improve focus, and quiet the ever-chattering mind.

3. Calms the Nervous System: The slow and deliberate nature of ujjayi breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. By stimulating this part of the nervous system, ujjayi breath helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and tension in the body. It induces a state of calmness and relaxation, allowing you to release any built-up tension or emotional baggage.

4. Regulates Body Temperature: Ujjayi breath generates heat within the body, which can be helpful in maintaining a balanced body temperature during your practice. This internal heat can also aid in boosting metabolism and detoxification, as well as promoting circulation and lymphatic flow.

5. Builds Endurance and Stamina: The controlled and deliberate nature of ujjayi breath requires you to engage your core muscles and diaphragm. By practicing this breath technique regularly, you can strengthen these muscles and improve your overall endurance and stamina. This can be particularly beneficial during more challenging or intense yoga sequences.

6. Connects Mind and Body: Ujjayi breath serves as a bridge between your mind and body, creating a deeper sense of connection and awareness. As you synchronize your breath with your movements, you develop a profound mind-body connection that allows for a more integrated and holistic yoga practice.

7. Cleanses and Clears the Energetic Channels: In yoga philosophy, it is believed that prana, or life force energy, flows through energetic channels called nadis. Ujjayi breath helps to purify and clear these channels, allowing prana to flow freely throughout the body. This energetic cleansing can lead to increased vitality,improved overall health, and a greater sense of well-being.

8. Enhances Focus and Concentration: The steady and consistent sound of ujjayi breath acts as a focal point, helping to anchor your attention and enhance your focus. By directing your attention to the sound and rhythm of your breath, you can quiet the distractions of the outside world and maintain a deep level of concentration throughout your practice.

9. Invokes a Sense of Inner Strength: Ujjayi breath is often referred to as “ocean breath” because of its resemblance to the sound of ocean waves. By utilizing this powerful breath, you can tap into your own inner strength and resilience. As you breathe deeply and audibly, you can connect with the power within you, allowing it to support you through challenging poses and difficult moments on and off the mat.

10. Deepens the Mind-Body Connection: Ujjayi breath is not just a physical practice; it is also a mindful practice. By bringing your awareness to your breath, you deepen your connection to your body and create a sense of unity between your physical and mental states. This deepened mind-body connection can lead to greater self-awareness, self-discovery, and ultimately, self-transformation.

How to start practicing ujjayi breath?

Starting to practice ujjayi breath is a simple yet powerful step towards enhancing your yoga practice. Here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Find a Comfortable Seated or Standing Position: Begin by finding a comfortable seat on the floor or a chair, or stand with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your spine is straight and your body is relaxed.

2. Take a Moment to Settle In: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to settle your mind and body. Allow any tension or stress to melt away with each exhale.

3. Take a Deep Breath In: Start by taking a deep breath in through your nose. Feel your lungs expanding and your abdomen rising.

4. Exhale Slowly Through Your Nose: As you exhale, gently contract the back of your throat, creating a slight constriction. This is similar to the sound of fogging up a mirror, but with your mouth closed. Allow the breath to flow out smoothly and audibly through your nose.

5. Repeat and Establish a Rhythm: Continue to inhale deeply and exhale slowly through your nose, maintaining the constriction in the back of your throat. Try to establish a steady rhythm and maintain a consistent volume and sound throughout your practice.

6. Focus on the Sensations: As you practice ujjayi breath, pay attention to the sensations in your body and the sound of your breath. Notice how your breath feels as it moves in and out of your body, and how it creates a soothing, ocean-like sound. Let this sound anchor your attention and bring you into the present moment.

7. Practice During Asanas: Once you feel comfortable with ujjayi breath, start incorporating it into your yoga practice. As you move through different poses, continue to breathe deeply and audibly, using ujjayi breath to stay connected to your body and maintain a sense of calm and focus.

8. Gradually Increase the Duration: As with any new practice, it takes time to fully integrate ujjayi breath into your yoga routine. Start by practicing for a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration over time. Eventually, you may find yourself naturally using ujjayi breath throughout your entire practice.

Remember, ujjayi breath is a tool that can support you both on and off the mat. It is a practice that can deepen your yoga experience and bring you closer to yourself. So take the time to explore ujjayi breath and see how it can enhance your practice and help you tap into your inner strength and resilience.

Watch this video with Tim Feldmann find out more about the power of ujjayi breath and how to practice it.

Are you looking for more guidance on your yoga journey? Sign up for Omstars to get access to thousands of yoga classes in the comfort of your own home. Click here to start your subscription. 

Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash