Breathing is one of the most important aspects of tristana and of yoga in general. The fundamental technique of yogic breathing is called Ujjayi breath, or “victorious” breath. Ujjayi breath is the foundation for many pranayama techniques, as well as an important practice on its own.
Benefits of Ujjayi Breath
Ujjayi breath slows down and lengthens both your inhales and exhales. It increases lung capacity and helps increase the supply of oxygen to the muscles to help with the movements we do in yoga. It is a point of concentration for the mind that aids us in the practice of pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses). This breathing technique also keeps the mind steady and calm, especially when poses get challenging.
Practice of Ujjayi Breathing
Ujjayi breathing is done by drawing the breath in and out through the nose while slightly constricting the opening of the throat where air passes through the glottis. Although the air does enter and exit through the nose, most of the awareness and sensation is in the throat. That is why ujjayi is sometimes known as throat breathing. The friction of air through the glottis (in the throat) produces an ocean wave-like sound. This sound is known as ajapa mantra, the unspoken mantra.
Practice ujjayi breath first in a comfortable seated position. Try to equalize the inhalations and exhalations. Once you have mastered ujjayi breath while seated, you can start to use it in your asana practice. Synchronize your movement with the breath. During the asana transitions, regulate the breath to match the movement, but allow the breath to flow calmly and with ease. Strenuous or choppy breathing means that you need to back off, either with the physical body or with the attitude of the mind.
Ujjayi breath can be practiced off the mat as well. It is an excellent way to relax, calm the mind, and alleviate insomnia.
Thanks for reading! To learn more about Ujjayi breath and how it can be used in our practices and our daily lives, please join us for a yoga retreat or yoga teacher’s training at the Doron Yoga and Zen Center in Guatemala.