What Is Ujjayi Breath And How To Master It?

Ujjayi breath is very confusing if nobody has ever explained it to you. The teacher says use Ujjayi breath, and everybody starts sounding like Darth Vader. I’m going to use this blog to illustrate the point of Ujjayi breath and how to do it. 

Ujjayi breath is a pranayama exercise that we can do while practicing asanas. Ujjayi is translated from Sanskrit to victorious. Some teachers will, therefore, refer to Ujjayi as the victorious breath. It is mainly used during yoga practice to help generate heat within the body, which then warms up the muscles and allows us to move into asanas more freely. The breath is supposed to be both invigorating and relaxing. Another benefit for the yoga class is that it helps to give us a rhythm, which is especially helpful if we are doing a lot of vinyasa’s (breath to movement). In Ashtanga classes, this type of breath is encouraged. There are many other benefits that Ujjayi breath is responsible for. 

  • These include regulating blood pressure
  • Calming the mind
  • Increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood and therefore helping to strengthen the immune system and fight off illness
  • Build energy 
  • And also detoxify the mind and body 

Method Of Performing Ujjayi Breath:

To do this, you must breathe in deeply through your nose, keeping your lips together. With your tongue, you should make a small constriction at the back of your throat. Each time you breathe, it should make a noise like the ocean or Darth Vader. The first time you try this, make sure that you are just sitting comfortably, nice and tall. It may take a bit of practice to get it right; in my experience, it is usually easier on the exhale than the inhale. If you are struggling with this, you can make a HAH sound with your mouth open (like you are trying to fog up a window) then try to copy this sound with the mouth closed. The time that you exhale for should be equal to the inhale time. Remember that this breath should be relaxing, so don’t stress yourself out with getting the sound perfect. It takes practice and patience, and with this, you will reap the benefits. 

You can also use the Ujjayi breath outside of your yoga class. The way we breathe reflects how we feel. For example, when we are stressed out and nervous, our breathing becomes shallow, quick, and shaky. When we are calm, our breath reflects it, becoming smooth and steady. The calming properties of Ujjayi breath help a lot in situations where you may be nervous and anxious. Calming the breath means calming the mind. The rhythmic nature of the Ujjayi breath will also help to focus the mind and block out distractions. It can be used as a type of meditation. The more you practice the Ujjayi breath, the more likely it is to become a habit, and without realizing, you will soon start to calm the mind before the stress kicks in.